As a busy public relations and marketing executive, your plate is full. You’re putting out fires that range from writing a speech for the ribbon-cutting, to managing social media timelines, to planning that next event to bring in potential customers. And you may or may not find yourself called upon to write award submissions for your company or leaders within your company.
Do you proactively seek out these opportunities for recognition? If not, why not? If it’s because the investment of time into writing a submission can be significant, and nothing you write ever results in a win, it’s time to take some steps to change that.
Here are a few proven steps to take to help turn that nomination into a win:
1. Before you commit to writing the submission form, get buy-in. Whether you’re asked by an internal client or senior leader in your company, or you’ve identified an award to go after on your own, make sure you’ve either got all of the information you need to write it or you’ve got the support of a colleague who can inform you. Need to know your company’s revenue and debt information? Better have access to someone in finance. Need to know what shaped the career choices of your COO? Get buy-in from their boss or mentor. The best intentions for an award nomination can be quickly derailed if you can’t get the information you need to write it.
2. Be detailed. Vague, half-hearted or uninteresting answers aren’t just boring and frustrating to write, they’re boring and frustrating to read too. And the judges won’t give your nomination much consideration. Be sure to take a few minutes to read all of the questions and make sure you have (or know where to get) detailed answers to each.
3. Tell a story. This is a big one. Award-worthy companies and individuals are often overlooked by judges because the nominator has stuck to solid – yet uninspired – adjectives. “Jack is the absolute best to work with.” “Acme Manufacturing is more advanced and poised for the future than any other in the market.”
You may (or may not) know that these statements are true. If you do know, then stop and ask yourself “why?” And if you don’t know why, ask others. Why is Jack so great to work with? What makes Acme more poised for the future than any other?
Here are examples of storytelling answers:
• Jack is great to work with because he often takes the time to make sure his employees get the mentoring and support they need, allowing them to leave work early for family commitments and connecting them with professors at the local college to discuss course offerings relevant to their career paths.
• Acme is more poised for the future because the company has invested almost $1 million in technical training for new high school grads, creating a pipeline of future workers while competitors struggled to find skilled workers.
4. Get others to join in. If more than one nomination is allowed (and it frequently is), recruit others in your company to also write nominations. They don’t have to work in communications, in fact, sometimes it’s better if they don’t. The perspectives of someone in operations or out in the field can really beef up a nomination.
When I was helping to recruit others to write nominations for my CEO, one of the operations directors volunteered to write one as well. She wrote of a time when her division was under construction, with hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of equipment newly delivered and waiting for installation. A water pipe broke, and she received late night notification that her equipment was in danger of being damaged. She lived far from work, and but when she made it in to figure out what to do next, she found the CEO running a wet vac in high heels, working hard to save the equipment.
But I never would have gotten that great story if I’d tried to micromanage the process. It’s ok if a non-marketer’s nomination isn’t a shining example of great writing, and you don’t want to intimidate someone who may already be uncomfortable about trying to write a nomination. Just let them tell it in their own words (and perhaps offer to proof read it for glaring errors).
So how do I know these tips work? Because over the past 10 years, I’ve written more than a dozen award nominations, and have won accolades for my company or clients around 90 percent of the time. Give them a try, and I hope they work as well for you.