Our Marketing Director, Anna Dalziel, and Group Creative Director, Paul Gascoigne, discuss the art of crafting winning award-entries with The Drum....
Agencyland awards increase credibility and profile, boost talent attraction and retention, and even give new biz teams shiny new accolades to eulogize about.
Whatever the reason for entering (for us creatives it usually tops the job description), crafting winning entries is as challenging as creating the work in the first place. Submissions cost time and money, so how can the chances of success be tipped in the direction of making the effort worthwhile? All it takes is committing to a few hard-learned rules:
Never enter just for the sake of entering. Choose wisely by honestly answering whether there is a compelling story. What’s the insight that led to the idea? Do the results prove it worked? All awards judge with differing criteria, but if your answers don’t provide a point of difference, you’re wasting your time.
Fantastic work can score a big nothing simply because the judges didn’t get it. Put yourself in their cynical seats and assume they know nothing of the thing you poured your life into. Avoid alienating jargon; clearly and simply explain things to them. Highlight why any of it matters, and if it doesn’t matter, get rid of it.
Aim for meaning to aim for greatness
Convince judges that the work surpasses rather than makes the grade. Make a judge mouth “Wow!” (ideally more than once) by hitting them between the eyes with the one thing that makes it different. Give a clear narrative that helps them understand why that difference is important with who, what, why, where and when.
One size does not fit all
Never copy and paste entries. All awards and categories are judged differently, so digest criteria to figure out what’s being looked for and craft accordingly. Identical entries over multiple categories suggest you don’t care about winning, so why should the judges?
Think far ahead
Crafting entries takes time. Invest in professional film and photography at the project’s outset and think about how to capture the story that will convince judges the work deserves their recognition. Invest in time for an experienced writer to compose entries – specifically one that has crafted several wins.
Less is more
Simply get to the point. Judges complain of entries that are so complicated they take repeated reading to grasp the agency’s point. Spoiler alert: judges don’t like second readings. Make films short and punchy – pick one hero still image that gets the idea across, supported by tightly edited contextual images.
Be you to be different
Stand out with personality. For Agency of the Year style categories, show in no uncertain terms what you stand for. Rather than tediously list what you’ve done, infect judges with the passion and pride of your people to demonstrate how and why you’ve achieved greatness.
Apply and respect the process
Stick to the word count. Hone and edit what you say. Think in news headlines and tweets. Put results front and center and secure client testimonials to verify them. Appoint an internal awards team for process and consistency. Approach awards entries as you would a new business pitch; as they learn more, they’ll win more.
Losing is winning
No one can win them all, but anyone can learn from everything. If entries repeatedly fail, compare them against winners to understand why. It may be more work, but it will improve the quality of future entries and also improve the quality of the submission.
Scream from the rooftops
If you don’t shout and celebrate wins, there is no point doing it in the first place…