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6 tips for writing winning award entries

By Marjorie Comer

burst-521042-unsplashSubmit better award entries by drafting better PR plans

For some, entering a public relations program for a recognition like the Silver Anvil, Image Award, or Radiance Award can be daunting. In my PR career, I’ve written multiple award entries and, while the first one seemed overwhelming, I was hooked from the start and hungry for more.

In order to draft an award-winning entry, you must begin months in advance with a PR plan. When you have great PR plan as the foundation, an award entry is much easier to write as you can simply borrow from your plan. Here are six ways to improve your award-entry efforts and begin winning.

1. Do your research.

Research is a key element to an award entry. I find, however, that it’s often pretty skimpy in the situational analysis portion of an entry. Research is important, though, because it tells the audience what you used to develop key messages. As a PR firm, we often do much more research than we realize when winning business, onboarding clients, and preparing PR programs. Why? Because it's easy. We don't think of it as research. Keep track of your notes and use them for research. Not all PR programs have the resources (time and budget) to have formal and primary research. That's OK. Simply note such and share what research you did.

2. Use SMART objectives.

The objectives you use in your PR plan and award entry should be SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time bound). Objectives that you should avoid include general statements, such as “raise awareness of an issue” and “increase followers to our social media channels.” Having SMART objectives means truly drilling down to the specifics, like “increase awareness of product X through 100,000 impressions of earned media coverage featuring product by Dec. 30, 2018.” By having SMART objectives, you can measure if you’re successful in your PR campaign. In our PR plans, we recommend numbering each SMART objective to better correlate with evaluation and to make it easier to draft the two-page award summary.

3. Evaluate your objectives.

Once you establish SMART objectives, there’s now a measurable way to let your client and the judges know you met your goals and the campaign was a success. When entering an award, take the numbered objectives and turn them into results. By numbering them and answering each question, you can make sure you don’t miss anything. It also makes it easier for the judges to go back and read the objectives that correlate with each outcome.

4. Use support material to highlight.

The support material is important to an award entry; however, don’t use it as a dumping ground to show every item related to your campaign. What were the highlights? Where did you see the most success? Your support material should spotlight how you achieved your objectives. If your entry is for successful social media engagement, then it’s necessary to show the posts and analytics to support that success. Keep in mind that creativity and innovation can impact the score as well as if the support materials reflect a suitable audience.

5. Include your budget.

Often companies overlook budget in an entry – and in a PR plan. Be sure to document the budget and if the end results justify the budget.

6. Insider tip.

After working in the industry for several years, a big insider tip I recommend is to review the judges' criteria for the award as well as the evaluation forms before creating a PR plan and in advance of submitting your entry. Doing so allows you to know exactly what the judges expect and how much they are scoring each section. When drafting the plan, think of the client as an award entry judge and follow that criteria as a checklist to write your plan.

If you’ve followed these six steps when creating your PR plan, then you should be able to copy/paste most of it into your award entry form. Keep in mind that many award entries are strictly two pages. Download How to Fire Your PR Firm if your PR firm isn’t creating the optimal PR plan for your company.

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marjorie-comer-portraitClients love Marjorie’s work ethic, speed, and diligence. She has worked with Axia Public Relations since October 2011. Marjorie graduated from Rockhurst University with a Bachelor of Arts in communication and loves to cheer for her hometown Kansas City Royals. Learn more about Marjorie.


Featured photo by Burst on Unsplash 

Topics: PR tips, awards, PR planning

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