Awards Season Primer: Why Some Great Programs Miss the Mark for Recognition

January 2, 2014

The award-entry season is here. We spend untold hours compiling award entries — and too many of them are out of the running even before the judges evaluate them.

What does it take to win awards?

Foremost, you need a winning idea that you have brilliantly planned and flawlessly executed, which delivers measurable results. But great work alone does not win awards. You need an award-winning entry.

Having evaluated thousands of award entries at the Chapter and national levels, here is one judge’s advice on turning your amazing program into an amazing — and winning — entry:

  1. Follow the rules. Read the rules carefully and make sure that your entry conforms.
  2. Make it easy for the judges to find and see your supporting materials. If your summary references a plan or a memo or a piece of creative, then give the judges a hint where to find it in your array of attachments. Limit the number of attachments or exhibits, and clearly mark the most important stuff.

  3. Be sure that your results match your clearly stated goals and objectives. Failure to align objectives and results undercuts the credibility of the entry. No matter how striking the creative is, if you cannot show a correlation between why you did it and what you accomplished, then you do not have a winning entry.

  4. Ask yourself if you are vying for a PR award. The entry should indicate the implementation of a PR strategy as a prime element, if not  the element that is crucial to achieving your goals. While an advertising campaign may have succeeded in driving traffic to a museum, if it was the only tactic employed, then you did not engage in public relations. Integrated communications campaigns make it tough to pull out the PR effects, but you need to find a way to do this if you want to win a PR award.
  5. Write in the active voice. If your entry says, “The media were contacted and were invited to attend,” then should the judges assume that you did the contacting and inviting? The point of entering an award program is to garner recognition for your work, so why not take credit for it directly in your summary? Your entry will be much more engaging, interesting — and winning — if you use the active voice.

  6. Don’t wait until the day before the deadline to start preparing your entry. Misspelled words, poor grammar, incomplete sentences or paragraphs, or missing attachments tell a judge that you really don’t care about your entry. And if you don’t care, then why should anyone else care?


2014 Deadlines for PRSA’s Awards

Silver Anvil
Early Deadline: Feb. 7
Final Deadline: Feb. 21

Bronze Anvil: April 5


John J. Moscatelli, APR, Fellow PRSA
John J. Moscatelli, APR, Fellow PRSA, consults via JJM Communications LLC, and is an adjunct PR professor at Rowan University. He is a retired U.S. Air Force public affairs officer and a former PR firm GM and COO. Email: jjmoscatelli@gmail.com.


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