It’s not. Creating an effective communication award submission is a process that should not be rushed. But these tips will help you stay focused and on track as you prepare your entry.
Tip #1: Remember that you are telling a story
Having judged several hundred entries over the past two decades – from IABC Gold Quill and PRSA Silver Anvil to local awards – I can tell you that the best entries, the ones most likely to be selected as winners, are the ones that tell their story effectively. These are the entries which draw the judges in, provide insight into the author’s organization and clearly define the problem and how the author solved the problem through good communications.
Realize that is it highly unlikely that the people judging your entry work in your industry, so you’ll need to provide some context for them. Fine-tune your story by telling it to friends and family members who are not coworkers, pay attention to the questions they ask, and then adjust your story accordingly.
Tip #2: Give yourself plenty of time
Don’t sabotage yourself by waiting until the day before the deadline to start working on your entry. That will never end well.
Instead, start several weeks out by preparing a preliminary draft. Create a rough draft – perhaps using bullet points instead of paragraphs – without regard for length or flow. Just answer the questions or address the key points requested in the call for entries. Then put the document away for three or four days and take advantage of that time to fine-tune your story as described above.
Now you can revisit your initial rough draft and “edit ruthlessly”, ensuring that you are making the best use of the two to four pages allowed to tell your story. Once you are done with this draft, put it away for a couple of days and focus on gathering samples and supporting documentation.
About a week before the deadline, pull out that draft and create your final entry, deleting unnecessary information, adding references and noting attachments and supporting work samples. The end result will be a polished, well-crafted document that reflects your professional talents.
Tip #3: Proofread, proofread, proofread
In addition to reducing your stress level, having your entry ready about a week before the deadline allows time for proofreading. Do NOT skip this step.
Remember that your entry will be read by senior-level communicators, many of them acknowledged leaders in their field. Believe me when I tell you that they WILL notice every typo and your inadvertent use of “they’re” instead of “their” will be commented upon.
Ask one or two of your coworkers to review your entry – paying particular attention to details such as headers and footers, attachment references and punctuation – before you print off your final entry.
Once you’ve conquered your first big communication awards program entry, you’ll find that it’s easy to adapt the document to other programs. So don’t stop with just one; take full advantage of the time and effort you’ve put into this entry to create a template entry to be used for other programs later in the year.
- Helpful Hints for Submitting Your Communications Awards Program Entry (rinkcomms.net)
- Get Ready for (Communications) Awards Season (rinkcomms.net)