How to Write Winning Award Nominations
By Chance Shay, Senior Communications Strategist
“You play to win the game.” As a sports enthusiast, this is one of my favorite quotes. When it comes to organized sports, if you’re not playing to win then what’s the point? The same thing goes for submitting award nominations. To make sure you’re helping your organization get the recognition (and buzz) it deserves, here are the four key elements to writing award nominations that win.
1. Focus on the category: There are a ton of award categories, which means your award nomination needs to emphasize how your product/service/organization is outstanding in that specific area. If the award category is about innovation, focus on how your widget solves a problem in a new way or how it created a new class of products. Many organizations make the mistake of writing award nominations that explain how fantastic their product is in a breadth of ways. Instead, focus on how fantastic the product is as it pertains to the one category. This will help reduce wordiness of a nomination, better hold judges’ attention and gives them everything they need to know to evaluate your product without having to dig through the nomination for it.
2. Write for the criteria: All sound awards programs lay out criteria against which nominations will be judged. Use those criteria as an outline for your nomination. Make sure you clearly and succinctly address each aspect of the criteria within the context of the larger category. If pricing isn’t part of the criteria and your widget doesn’t have a price point benefit, don’t distract from what’s remarkable about the widget by mentioning its price. Also, don’t get lost talking about the widget’s features. Instead, discuss features in terms of the benefit they provide- feature A makes the product more reliable, feature B allows it to solve the problem faster, feature C relieves a pain point that’s a barrier to entry for a wider audience. Judges don’t care as much about what the widget is as they do about what it achieves.
3. Use figures: Anyone can add superfluous adjectives to an award nomination to make it seem more impressive than it really is, but numbers don’t lie. Include data on how successful the product launch was, figures on the number of times it solves a problem, or show metrics that illustrate the benefit of the widget. If the figures included in your nomination are bigger and better than that of competing nominations, it doesn’t matter how much a competitor embellished on their nomination description. Use stats to your advantage.
4. Make a good first impression: Set the tone for which your nomination will be judged with an opening statement that clearly conveys why your organization deserves to win the award. Assume the judge will only read the first sentence of your nomination. What MUST they know and understand about the widget? Build your opening statement around that and be sure to showcase the passion your organization has for what the widget achieves.
Bonus tip: Incorporate visuals! Depending on the award program size. Judges may have to sift through hundreds of nominations and can get cross-eyed looking at block of text after block of text. Use visuals- from infographics to product marketing photos- to show them how awesome the widget is, rather than just tell them. For nominations that don’t allow you to upload and send visual files, incorporate links to online-hosted visuals within the nomination text itself. Sure, not all judges are guaranteed to click the links to see the visuals, but it will give your nomination the edge for those that do.
The point of submitting an award nomination isn’t to say you’ve nominated your organization for an award. The point is to win the award, tell your audience about why you won the award, differentiate your organization from competitors and boost sales or fundraising. By following these four (or five) tips, your nominations will be better positioned to help you win, and that’s what it’s all about.
Need a little help winning attention or awards for your organization? We are all about achieving wins for our clients. Let us know what a win looks like for you, and we’ll let you know how we can get you there. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to start the discussion today.