PRSA East Central District Diamond Awards Due Date Approaching

The East Central District of PRSA will hold their 34th annual Diamond Awards soon, and the deadline for submissions is September 19, 2011 (with a late deadline of September 26). More information is available here:

Six Tips to Craft a Winning Awards Entry

So, you want to write a winning awards entry but are not sure where to start. Don’t worry. You’re not alone. Many pr professionals struggle to boil down their efforts into a concise, thorough summary with supporting documents.

With East Central District’s Diamond Awards season upon us, read these six tips to crafting a winning awards entry before you even hit “save as” on your summary Word doc.

1. Think Metrics

Without metrics, how is success defined? Strong entries start by identifying measurable goals and objectives and end by demonstrating their wins and shortfalls. Judges need to clearly understand what you set out to do (e.g. improve readership by 10%; raise $25,000; sell 1500 more tickets; increase Facebook followers by 20% in 3 weeks) compared to what was achieved.

While qualitative data is acceptable, hard numbers demonstrate this best. Stating that you “received several emails saying how great the music was at the event” frankly won’t cut it. If you must use qualitative results, do what you can to show how this was purposefully - even scientifically - gathered (e.g. fill-in-the-blank evaluations).

2. Don’t Assume

Keep in mind the judges do not have any history with your entry topic. Do not assume they will fill in the blanks. When writing, pretend you are explaining your logic - why you did what you did - to a stranger on the street. Keep it pithy and to-the-point - like the 30-second elevator pitch you may have seen on TV. Double check your explanation does not have any gaps by asking a colleague (preferably not from your organization) to poke holes in your entry.

3. Share your Challenges

Don’t count out your entry if your project did not reach the set objectives. Rarely is there a clear path to any goal. In fact, the twists and turns along the way often create heart in an entry. Take advantage of explaining the challenges showing how you adapted to changing circumstances and re-directed your project to accommodate them.

4. Enter the Correct Category

While it may seem simple, all too often excellent entries are entered in the wrong category. To avoid this embarrassing blunder, write your entry to make a case for achieving the category objective. For instance, Brand Management entries should demonstrate how your campaign helped your organization or client manage their brand. If you are not clear on the correct category, seek advice from the chapter or committee organizing the awards.

Also, be careful to enter into the correct division - for-profit, non-profit, government, etc. While you may work for an agency, if your entry is on behalf of a non-profit client, make sure you enter in the non-profit division.

5. Know the Criteria

The devil truly is in the details. Make sure you understand and follow the limitations and restrictions for things such as font size, page count, and supporting materials. It might seem tedious, but the last thing you want is to get disqualified for a silly oversight. Take the time to triple check your entry before shipping it for judging.

6. Check out the Competition

One of the best ways to improve your summary is to get inspired by reading past winning entries. Model their flow and format, modified to meet your unique entry. Like when you are conducting research for a new project, learn what the judges liked in past years and adapt those characteristics into your piece. Ask colleagues if you can read their winning award entries, or check out Anvil winners on PRSA National’s website.

Many of these ideas were adapted from PRSA’s Anvil Podcast series. For more information, download or stream the shows on PRSA National’s website.