With the deadline of free entries for the Credit Awards ending today, Fred Crawley explains how best to write a winning entry.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. After months of me sneering at businesses ham-fistedly disguising adverts as news, do I really have the gall to spend this month talking about one of my own firm’s events?
Well, yes, I do. But in my defence, this isn’t going to be an advertisement. Because you already know about the Credit Awards: Grosvenor House, bow ties, eerily circular pieces of beef - it’s something of a landmark fixture.
What you perhaps don’t know, however, is how to win at the Credit Awards - and we’re not FIFA, so the answer isn’t to sponsor them.
Below, I’m going to use the most depressingly ubiquitous format in journalism - the numbered list - to tell you how to write a sure-fire winner of an entry. Obviously, it will also help if your company is the best in its peer group, but that bit’s up to you to sort out.
One of the most familiar complaints judges have about awards entries is that they present standard practice, or the meeting of regulatory requirements, as something extraordinary. When listing your company’s achievements, make sure they are things that really stand out from what your peers are doing.
I’ve done quite a lot to refine the entry process for the 2017 awards, and part of that - you’ll be glad to know - has been to reduce the amount nominees have to write. Next year’s awards entries will only allow for about 700 words of evidence - about the same as this article. As such, prioritise dense delivery of facts above flowery language, and don’t be afraid to resort to bullet points.
On the subject of brevity, figures are quite often the most efficient and memorable way to make a point. Where you are able to back up your statements with financial results or other metrics, they are going to make much more of an impact on judges.
Even where numbers aren’t available, hard facts are a lot more useful than vague sentiments. An awards entry stating that a business “puts customers at the heart of everything it does” may be making the right noises, but if it doesn’t give any practical examples of how it puts customers at the heart of what it does, it has wasted its words.
Please. We’ve been through this. Seriously speaking though, marketing copy is always best avoided in awards entries. Not only does it tend to be fairly wasteful in terms of word count, but it tends to fall flat with judges who have hundreds of entries to read, and who want to rapidly be able to identify and digest the facts in an entry.
In fact, it’s encouraged. Some of the most compelling awards entries I’ve ever read have been businesses talking about how they used to do something badly, and improved it. The honesty and pragmatism involved in telling that sort of story tends to impress judges more than companies which claim to have pretty much always been perfect at what they do.
This one might be a bit of a tall order - we are journalists after all. But it’s a serious point - time after time, companies leave out details of their most impressive achievements, because they worry we will siphon the information from their awards entries and publish it in Credit Strategy. We will not do this. If you mark information on a nomination as confidential, the only people who ever read it will be the judging panel - and even then, judges with any potential conflict of interest will remove themselves from discussions.
Here you can find a webinar I conducted discussing all of my top tips for writing an award winning entry.