And the Award Goes To…

February 5, 2010

The awards season is upon us, and it’s not just for those in Hollywood. The PR profession has a plethora of plaques and trophies to pursue, with many competitions calling for entries during the first quarter of the year.

I’ve been fortunate to win a few in my career (with apologies to Sally Field, “you like me, you must really like me”) and frequently judge the annual Publicity Club of Chicago (PCC) Golden Trumpets awards. So, in the spirit of sharing this experience, here are several ideas that can help an awards entry sparkle – and score points:

  • Work “backward” when preparing the narrative. Most entries require copy that describes goals, research, tactics and results in that exact order. Logically, you figure, let’s start detailing goals and proceed from there. Instead, look first at the program’s outstanding results, and prepare your outline from the bottom up. Tactics and strategies then will effectively illustrate how the results were achieved, and goals will be in total synch with results.
  • Present the goal or challenge dramatically. Award winners often are programs that overcome great obstacles. Position that with attention-grabbing copy. When PCC awarded us best program of the year for “Revive Wacker Drive,” we first posed the question: “How can you possibly make a disruptive road construction project appealing?”
  • Highlight third-party testimonials. Don’t just toot your own horn. Sprinkle in program endorsements from media, customers and other target audiences the program influenced. For example, an entry we’re developing now will quote an editor asking our client, “How can we work with you to promote the future of manufacturing?”
  • Write creatively. Copy need not be stilted or stuffy just because it’s an award entry. Tell your story with flair and passion. Judges will enjoy reading the entry – and pay even more attention to your work.

Good luck! I look forward to seeing you at the podium!