How to Master Award Submissions

Award at Bospar

Deloitte Fast 500. Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies. Inc. 5000. CNBC Disruptor 50. Forbes 30 Under 30. If you are in tech PR, you have probably heard your clients talk about these awards and the importance of winning them.

However, if you’ve worked on these submissions, you know how time-consuming they are: you iterate on drafts, get the client to review and approve, and then submit the nomination (usually the hour before the deadline). And, of course, many of these deadlines happen at the same time of the year; many happen on the same day.

If you’re looking to become an award-winning (pun intended) PR pro, here are a few best practices for navigating awards season.

A (Fast) Company’s First Award Submission Is the Most Important

If you’ve been through awards season, then you know the importance of the first award submission you work on with a client. The first submission is the most time-consuming, but it’s also the most valuable, because you can recycle the messaging in future submissions.

After a while, you’ll be able to recall questions and answers from previous submissions that you can tailor and repurpose for others. This is especially helpful when you get an email from a CEO expressing interest in an award that is due that same week!

Intake 5000

Whether with a proper messaging session or hours spent reviewing and researching company materials, knowing your client’s messaging will ensure consistently accurate award submissions. This is especially important when dealing with company information like revenue numbers, growth percentages or other company metrics. There’s nothing worse than an awards team representative reaching out to verify the information on your submission because it doesn’t match their records. So, take the time to get all the correct details.

‘CNB See’ That You’re Collaborating With Your Client

Clients are busy. Sometimes they only have time to send feedback in the form of Google doc comments.

But award submissions are often extremely detailed, and you’ll need to find time to collaborate with your client for your submissions to be successful. Plan to be on the phone regularly throughout awards season, talking through submission details, deadlines and actions needed. Additionally, hearing first-hand how an executive talks about their company will give you good insights, metrics and colorful anecdotes that you otherwise wouldn’t know about.

Reviewing Your Work ‘30 Under 30’ Times

This step is very important, especially for those lengthy submissions. Make sure everything you submit has had a thorough copy edit. Sloppy sentences and grammar and other inconsistencies can eliminate a company’s submission from consideration.

The award submission process can be tedious, and sometimes you spend hours on one question. By the time you’re done,  the answers start looking and sounding the same. So, re-read and review and have someone else look them over with a fresh set of eyes before you submit. 

Deloitte Forget Organization!

Keeping track of deadlines is obviously an important part of the award submission process.

First of all, make sure you keep a log of all awards you have applied for, will apply for, did or didn’t win, and/or passed on for the year. I find that a simple Excel grid is sufficient, and I keep mine updated with important notes so that when the client asks (and they will) if they should pursue an award, I can remember why we did or did not pursue it last year.

It’s also important to set calendar reminders for all important dates so that you can alert your client whenever an important announcement will happen. Bonus: this will  also make you look great and on top of things.

Lastly, keep a folder of all submission documents, images, case studies  and other materials, so you don’t waste time sifting through emails to find them next year. You’ll thank me for this tip when you are minutes away from a deadline and need to find a client’s logo.

Sometimes you can’t avoid having four submissions due and running around with your hair on fire to get them all submitted on a Friday night. But these tips will make awards season easier and will set you up for success.

Making Award Submissions Stand Out

Submissions Advice at BosparIn 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.