So, you’ve made a resolution to submit your work to a communication awards program in 2012. That’s the easy part. Now you have to figure out what and how to enter.
For a first-timer, submitting an entry to a professional awards program can be an overwhelming prospect, which is why I’m happy to offer some helpful hits.
1 – Choose your awards program. There are plenty of communications awards programs out there, and some are less prestigious than others. However, the awards programs sponsored by the two leading professional associations for the communications industry – the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC) and the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) – are generally acknowledged as the best in class. In addition to the global IABC Gold Quill and national PRSA Silver Anvil and Bronze Anvil awards programs, these associations have local or regional awards programs sponsored by local chapters.
2 – Read the rules and guidelines. Each awards program has its own rules governing eligibility. Some programs limit entries to work produced in the prior year, others allow multi-year programs; some are very specific about the length of the entry, limiting them to two pages and others are more lenient about length. To avoid being disqualified on a technicality, make sure you read and adhere to all the rules and guidelines contained in the call for entries.
3 – Choose your program or work sample carefully. Remember, this is an opportunity to have your work judges by industry leaders, so limit your submissions to your best work samples and your most effective, innovative programs.
4 – Ask for clarification, but allow for plenty of response time. In most cases, the call for entries will include a contact for additional information or clarification. Don’t be embarrassed to reach out to that contact if you don’t understand the guidelines or need some additional information to complete your entry. But realize that most of these programs are managed by volunteers who have full-time jobs and lives and don’t expect to hear back within two hours. Two days is probably more realistic.
5 – Line up friends and co-workers to help critique your drafts. As you pull together your entry, you will find that it’s easy to get short-sighted, that you miss obvious omissions. There are great benefits to be found in recruiting a second, third or fourth set of eyes during the draft stage of your entry, especially if one of those extra sets of eyes was not involved in the program. He/she can help keep you on track and ensure that you are telling your story in an effective and compelling entry.
Any other tips from seasoned awards program participants and judges? Sound off in the comments below.
- Get Ready for (Communications) Awards Season (rinkcomms.net)