In attempting to reveal that King Claudius murdered his father, Hamlet intones, “The play’s the thing wherein I’ll catch the conscience of the king.” Ever since Shakespeare penned these words, finding the “hook” that gets a specific audience’s attention has for public relations professionals been akin to the search for the Holy Grail. This is particularly true when making submissions for industry recognition.
In the process of making an award’s short list – and hopefully winning the prize – getting clients to understand what makes their submission stand out from the pack involves some education. It’s not uncommon for a client to say something along the lines of, “What is wrong with giving judges a bulleted list of our accomplishments? Isn’t that how we establish gravitas?” Actually…not so fast.
Boring is the enemy of award-winning. Bospar has successfully produced award-winning submissions for clients and ourselves. The secret is to tell a compelling story and not merely recite the “facts.” Generally, when I write an award submission, I assume the judges are reading the same type of dry copy from everyone. “Who was that again?” is likely a common refrain.
One technique I like to use is opening with a question that links back to accomplishments. A provocative question like “So, what was the inspiration for your solution?” can be an attention- grabber. The point is that it be simple and pithy. And, unlike most entries, which are eye-numbing blocks of text, a short, engaging question pulls in the reader and is memorable.
I also recommend using humor. A funny anecdote can be enticing. It encourages judges to read on and is likely to be remembered. Our experience is that, in most cases, what judges are deciding on is not the quality of the person or company but the quality of the submission. Being memorable from first line to last is key.
Finally, numbers and brief testimonials can seal the deal. Whether it’s people, growth figures, customers, or other success metrics, judges want to see validation of success.
The bottom line is that submissions need to be memorable. The “kings” need a good story that lingers in their collective consciousness.
Blog post by Tom Carpenter