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08 Jan 2014


How to write an award-winning entry

With the entry deadline for 2014 Spark Awards just around the corner (February 19), we know you’re all diligently working away, crafting eloquent entries that will dazzle our judges. Or…maybe you haven’t even started thinking about it yet.

Well, whether you’re putting the final touches on your entry or just getting started, we wanted to share a few tips and tricks to developing an award-winning entry so you can be #WINNING at the ceremony on April 16. Here’s what we think you should keep in mind as you write:

  1. You have a story – tell it. Beyond the facts, figures, stats and data, there’s always a story to tell – so do it. After reading dozens of entries, the judges’ eyes start to glaze over. Telling a compelling story that’s easy to read and entertaining will make your entry memorable.
  2. Clearly outline your goals and measureable objectives. When it comes to writing out your measureable objectives, remember to be S.M.A.R.T. – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Time-bound. A well-written objective should always identify who is involved; what the desired outcomes are; why the project was implemented, when the outcome will occur; and, how progress will be measured. We would hate to see a great entry disqualified or score lower than it should because of the lack of supporting evidence of its success.
  3. Results, results, results. This is probably the key factor judges use when deciding if the entry they’re reviewing was successful or not. As noted above, it’s so important to clearly outline your goals and measurable objectives – but to follow-up on those, you have to then show clear results that meet or exceed those goals and objectives.

I know, I know. Many of you reading this right now are saying, “We don’t have any hard data to back up our results, but it was a really successful (campaign) or (brochure) or (etcetera).” Sure, data is always important, but don’t forget or dismiss other ways to show results to judges:

  • Soft metrics – those intangible indicators that show the value of your work. These are things like relationship building, raising brand awareness, increased visibility, etc.
  • Outputs – measuring the number of brochures distributed, for example, is a basic output that can speak to the number of eyeballs on a material developed. While it doesn’t provide perceived perception of that material, it still gives us informed feedback.
  • Anecdotes – don’t underestimate the power of anecdotes from your target audience. Sure, they’re not quantifiable and you can’t generalize them across your entire audience, but they still show results of how a campaign or material is being received in the market.

As a final tip, it’s always helpful to understand exactly how a judge is going to grade your work, right? Well Happy Birthday, Merry Christmas and more, because this year the board has included the official 2014 Spark Awards Judging Form in the Entry Packet posted online. Be sure to review this form to best understand how your entries will be judged.

Best of luck to everyone submitting this year! We’re looking forward to reviewing!

For more information on the 2014 Spark Awards, please contact Emily Easley, 2013 – 2014 Spark Awards Judging Chair.