8 Tips for Winning A Communications Contest Award

Winning a communications award is a great way to boost your self confidence. It’s validation of the quality of your work and lets others know you are a superior communicator. It can also boost your career.

Years ago I lived in Los Angeles and applied for a job at a major company. I didn’t hear back from the hiring manager. In the meantime, I won a writing award from the local IABC chapter.

I sent a short note to the hiring manager to let her know. She called me the very next day and we scheduled an interview. Long story short, I was hired for the job!

I have won more than 25 communications and public speaking awards during my career. And perhaps more importantly, I have also volunteered many times for local IABC and PRSA chapters to judge awards entries from other chapters.

So I have a good feel for what contest judges look for when evaluating an entry, and what a communicator can do to improve her or his chances of winning an award. Here are my top eight tips:

1. In most contests, your entry write-up constitutes half of your total score. So spend at least five hours drafting your write-up. Show it to at least two other professionals for proofing.

2. You must be able to show that you had specific objectives in mind before you implemented your project (and the more measurable they are the better).

3. You must be able to document results for the project you‘re entering, as well as explain how you measured those results.

4. Use the same categories in your entry write-up that are used in the contest application form. This makes it easy for the judges to find what they need to when scoring your entry.

5. Read the contest rules carefully to avoid disqualification. Make sure you enter the appropriate category and do not exceed the page limit for the write-up.

6. Make sure you label your entry clearly so the contest organizers and judges know which category you’re entering.

7. If your entry has some type of interesting graphic image or photo associated with it, put it on the cover of your entry binder, along with an interesting headline. Use your binder cover to help “sell” your entry to the judges. Think of the way cereal companies use eye catching graphics and text on the box cover to help convince shoppers to buy their product. Don’t let the opportunity slip to market your entry in a similar fashion to the judges.

8. Save yourself time and money by only entering a contest with award-winning caliber work. Don’t bother entering if you did not:

          A. Set specific objectives.

          B. Measure your results.

          C. Meet or exceed your objectives.

And here’s one last tip. If you’re fortunate enough to win an award, don’t be bashful about your achievement. Let your manager know. Send an item to your company’s employee newsletter and a news release to your local paper. Who knows? It just might wind leading you to your next job!

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