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7 Tips to Help Your Firm Win More Awards

We know that PR firms love winning awards and telling people that they’ve won awards, so we think our readers will be very interested in today’s “tips and tools” guest post courtesy of Kevin Swanepoel, president of The One Club. The Club, a non-profit organization created to champion and promote excellence in advertising and design in all its forms, produces events like the One Show, One Show Design, One Show Interactive and One Show Entertainment.

Here’s the golden rule for winning an award: make sure your work is great. Simple enough — but even if you have the best product, service or creative work in the world, you can trip up your entry with practical mistakes that delay or taint a submission that might have been a winner. Consider the following tips in order to give your submission the best chance of winning:

1. Avoid the “Shotgun” Approach:  This may sound strange coming from someone whose organization thrives on a large pool of awards submissions, but submitting an entry for all categories under the sun won’t improve your chances of winning and may weaken them instead.  Some entrants believe that if they submit their work for consideration in six categories, their chances will improve sixfold! The reality, however, is that judges are people who are susceptible to desensitization and annoyance.  If they see a good submission in the correct category once, it’s fresh and original.  If they see it five more times, it becomes trite and even overbearing.

2. Choose Categories Wisely:  Take your time, do your homework, and make sure that you’re submitting the work for the right category. Carefully read the criteria and conditions for each category before settling on the one that’s right for your submission rather than making the choice on impulse.

3. Submit Early:  You’re busy, I know — it’s tough to take the time to get a submission right, but it behooves you to put things in motion well before the submission deadline. Many awards programs are accommodating and will grant extensions if you’re really pressed for time, but this does not equal putting your best foot forward. Last-minute efforts are always fraught with unforeseen complications: technical difficulties with an online submission, prolonged delay when submitting physical work, etc. Also: if you have questions, the organization handling the awards submissions has less power to do so as deadlines approach.

4. Less Is More (Get to the Point!):  The One Show Awards has a category for two-minute videos (among many others, of course). Some entrants disregard that parameter and submit videos well over the 2:00 limit, which can be irritating to judges who are sequestered in a room watching hours upon hours of video.  Be direct and get to the point quickly. More is not always better.

5. Avoid Clichés and Superlatives: You don’t know how often people use the phrases “first ever,” “best ever” and “one and only” until you’ve reviewed thousands of awards submissions. So please be specific: what exactly makes your work unique, timely or well-executed? Proclaiming yourself to be the absolute best can have an adverse effect — the merits of your work should be self-evident. In a similar vein, avoid fixating on the accolades and publicity your work has garnered and let the work speak for itself.

6. “Dress” for the Award You Want: If you’re submitting digital work, make sure you’re submitting the highest quality, highest resolution possible.  When reviewing work for One Show Awards, we use state-of-the-art equipment that can make poor-quality images or videos stand out even more. If you’re submitting something physical, mail the physical component; don’t submit an image as a digital proxy. In other words, don’t scrimp, because every detail influences the judges’ impressions of your submission.

7. Know the Digital Cycle: Traditionally, you’re given one opportunity a year to submit for an award. But the awards cycle has evolved thanks to the digital age. For example, we accept submissions for our digital and new media program One Show Interactive each quarter because the new media world changes so quickly.  Avail yourself of evolving submissions structures to make sure you get your work in front of judges while it’s still fresh.

I can sum it all up in one sentence: remember that judges are people.  I think there’s an assumption that the awards submissions process is automatic – a well-oiled machine that spits out winners. We maintain exacting standards at One Show, but while our judges are leaders in their industries, they are also human beings. So try to make it easy on them (and yourself).

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