Skip to main content

Ten top tips for writing winning award entries

Written by Claire Scaramanga

This Monday the third series of the hit BBC show “The Sheriffs Are Coming” started and has reached over 30% of the viewing public – quite an achievement!

This article has been assigned the following categories: Tips,

The show has been shortlisted for the Broadcast Awards 2014, which is very exciting. Whilst Scaramanga was not involved in the entry for that award, we have prepared several other award entries for The Sheriffs Office, being shortlisted as a finalist for every entry and winning Enforcement Team of The Year 2013 and the Credit Excellence Awards 2013.

We have also prepared – and won – many other award entries for our clients.

With the most recent win for The Sheriffs Office, the organiser made this request: “I would like to use your application as part of a guide for applicants in 2014 of how it should be done.”

So I thought I would share with you my ten top tips for writing award winning entries:

1. Answer the question

It may seem blindingly obvious, but it is worth taking the time to think about exactly what they are asking for and making sure you answer it. If you feel you must include information that hasn’t been asked for explicitly, ensure that you make it relevant to what the judges want to know and makes your case stronger.

2. Follow the “rules”

If the judges have set criteria such as number of words or format of the entry materials, stick to these. Ignoring them will at best antagonise them, and at worst will get you disqualified.

3. Think about the competition

Consider who else might be entering – the finalists from previous years should give you a fair idea – and think about what their arguments for winning could be, then make your entry stand out more.

4. Structure your argument

It can be all too easy to chuck everything in and hope something sticks. Instead, find your three or four compelling arguments and place all your points and evidence within these. The key headline points will help the judges instantly grasp your reasons for why you should win and will have more impact – people remember headlines more than lots of detail.

So, tell them what you’re going to tell them (your headline arguments) – tell them (the detail and evidence) – tell them what you told them (your headline arguments).

5. Give evidence

Support your case with evidence – facts, figures, reviews, the more independent and impartial the better. Customer testimonials are also good – if you don’t have any, make getting them your first job, as sourcing and sign-off can take time.

6. Don’t copy and paste

You may have written previous entries, but resist the temptation to simply copy and paste chunks from other documents. It won’t flow properly and probably won’t be quite right in terms of the questions being asked for this entry. If you do copy sections from other documents, edit them thoroughly to make sure they work in this.

7. Avoid jargon

Even if your judges are from your industry, try to avoid jargon and meaningless “management speak” as much as possible. If you use three letter acronyms (TLA), write them in full the first time.

8. Check for typos

Thoroughly proof your entry and ask someone else to check it too.

9. Be the judge

When you have finished, put yourself in the place of a judge and read your entry with a critical eye. For each point made, ask yourself “so what” to make sure you have got right to the heart of what makes your entry worthy of winning. Then think about where you can make it stronger.

10. Give yourself time

Preparing award entries takes time. You may need information for several different sources, you may need some visuals or other supporting materials prepared, and you will need the entry to be approved by the client (or your manager if you are in-house). And don’t forget to allow time to review and ask those “so what” questions!

And finally, don’t miss the entry deadline!