Every year the judges are asked why particular entries fail to make the shortlist, but it is just impossible to go into detail with every single one.
As Maria in the Sound of Music once said (and how can you argue with Julie Andrews?): "Let's start at the very beginning. A very good place to start".
The one common theme most entries have when they fail to make the shortlist is that they just do not address even the most basic requirements of the judges. This is fundamental when crafting an entry.
Every single category has a detailed set of criteria already written out - almost like a recipe - which if followed to the letter, will at least produce an entry that ticks judges' boxes. Please do read those before starting an entry. They can be found here.
Below are some reminders of must-haves in an entry:
- Entries must be UK-based - it is amazing how many cite global figures and never mention the UK once. We appreciate that some firms don't break figures down into regions, but by making no effort to describe its UK operations, then it just doesn't make the grade. This is particularly the case with vendor entries.
- Case studies and testimonials - these are of the utmost importance in entries - if you don't have a case study and testimonials to back up claims and demonstrate to the judges how your solutions or services actually benefit customers or partners, then it is a bit of a poor show.
- Please explain WHY you are entering a particular award and put your company and the entry in context - don't assume the judges know everything about your company - tell them about it and explain why you think you should win.
- Please include stats and numerical facts to back up claims; demonstrate growth and achievements with actual figures - anybody can pluck random figures from the air, but actually backing them up stands you in better stead to make that shortlist.
But don't just stop there. Even though you may have ticked all the criteria boxes - think about making your entry really stand out to the judges. This are the extra details that really make a winning entry.
Have you included a personal element in the entry? Have you talked about your people and the character of the business? If not, why not? People are THE most important attribute a company has, so why are you not giving them credit?
Formatting the entry will also be very well received by the judges. Entries don't have to be fancy PDFs or videos, but at the very least some spacing, some pictures and some bullet points laid out in a word doc instead of blocks of frankly unappealing text, would just make the entry more pleasurable to read.
PDF or video entries are also welcome - but don't just send a video of one person droning on in corporate speak in front of a camera - include your teams, inject some humour and personality - show the judges why you deserve this particular award. And again, with videos, don't forget the basics: facts, figures, testimonials and case studies.
However fancy the entry may be - if it doesn't cover the basic requirements, then it will not make the shortlist and certainly won't win.
Finally, a couple of things to avoid.
Attachments - please, for the love of Cod (deliberate typo there), do not attach reams of documents to an entry - the judges simply will not read them. Don't attach testimonials separately - at least one needs to be in the main body of the entry.
Long entries - please, please stick to the word count. The judges are becoming stricter on how much of an entry they will read. If it goes over 1,000 words, they will not read it and could miss really crucial information that has been buried away under a pile of unnecessary prose. The same goes with videos. Keep them short. Any longer than five minutes and you risk the judges hitting the stop button.
Corporate speak - avoid it like the plague. Write as if you were speaking to the judges in plain English. Do not use marketing ‘puff' words either - they will actually lose you points.
To conclude, this may seem like a strict set of requirements, but they really will ensure the entry you submit stands a good chance of being shortlisted and ultimately lifting a coveted award.
Best of luck and we look forward to reading your efforts. The hard work that goes into many entries is very much appreciated, but the judges can spot the ones that have been rushed through at the last minute. It really isn't worth entering if you don't have time to put the effort in.
To enter the awards, click here.
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