Award season is pretty much over – replaced for many people by Christmas party season.
If 2019 wasn’t your year, if you’re fed up with coming second or if you don’t like smiling through gritted teeth you might want to read on.
I’ve been a judge for some financial services awards for a few years – and I’ve written plenty of award-winning submissions over the last decade. My company still does it for clients today.
This is what I, and I imagine many other judges in financial services, tend to look for.
Be brief. Like me, a judge will have a busy day job, and we usually do it to offer something back to the industry. So judging is often an evening or weekend task. And going over the word count, waffle and dull corporate speak all make that job harder. We’ll do our best to mark you fairly – but in a close call, late at night, brevity and readability will always beat waffle and obfuscation.
Answer the question. It’s remarkable how many award entries avoid giving straight answers. Some submissions are a brain dump of everything the writer knows about the topic, others simply restate the question, or just cut and paste relevant material from their own website. That gets marked down. A simple and straightforward answer gets marked up.
But avoid answering questions by referring to other questions. The chances are that your judge is filling in an online form – just like you. If more than a few responses say “please refer to Q2 above” then cross-referencing becomes time-consuming and irritating. And from that point on, a judge might be looking for reasons to fail your organisation rather than reasons to pass.
Examples. The two most powerful words in communication are “for example”. We love client case studies, data, trend analysis. Give us a sense of what makes this submission different by bringing it to life.
Personality. And talking of bringing things to life, what we really like is some sense of personality – human or corporate. So that means real-life things and not a cut and paste from the corporate brochure.
Also, if your company has been involved in a major scandal this year, please be aware that sometimes a judge might think beyond the award submission parameters. It’s how the world works. So, a great product from a poorly-behaving company might get overlooked.
The other thing is that it doesn’t hurt to research what makes a good entry – from reading the “what we’re looking for” guides on the award submission website to simply asking the organisation handling the process. Hardly anyone does the latter and I find that baffling.
Good luck next year!