By now, you should have found an award you want to enter, as a team, individually or as a firm. You've analysed the criteria, looked up the previous winners and you're feeling pretty confident about your prospects.
So, first things first; read the application pack thoroughly and ensure that you have all the information you need to hand. You may be asked to supply basics such as turnover, profit, employee numbers - as well as an email address and telephone number for the lead contact. Don't fall at the first hurdle by failing to provide these basics or getting them wrong.
Next up - the nitty gritty - also know as demonstrating how you, your team or your firm meet the award criteria. At this point, you should check that you do meet these. If you don't, think seriously about your prospects of success and if necessary, dump the entry.
Now everybody writes differently, but a little strategic thinking can go a long way. Consider writing an 'award plan' or 'road map' to ensure that you properly deal with each of the criteria. Back up each point with facts and figures where possible.
Be excited about the entry - invite the reader to take a metaphorical ride with you, illustrating your successes, and the reasons you deserve to win. If you have a great writer in your team - utilise their skills. If you struggle with this sort of thing, and (being honest with yourself) just don't have the ability to write creatively - outsource. There are plenty of PR firms and freelance writers who will help you out and you don't have to blow the budget. In fact, you are likely to spend less getting an award drafted than you would lose in fee-earning time if you were to struggle on alone.
Once you're happy that your entry meets all of the criteria, carry out some further basic checks:
- Word count: don't exceed this. The judges will have enough work to do already so don't make it harder for them - they'll hate you, and they may disqualify your entry
- Spelling and grammar: it's obvious but check, check and check again.
- Style: Print the entry and read it out loud - this may sound like bonkers advice but it enables you to gain a different perspective and is likely to throw up a few areas requiring attention
Once you're happy with the entry - submit it - making sure you follow the submission guidelines: if they say email, don't post it. If they don't ask for supporting evidence, don't send it.
And - last but by no means least - don't miss the deadline...
By Victoria Moffatt
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