Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Storytelling Key to Winning Awards

By Celine Thomasson, APR

Having submitted entries for professional awards and also serving as a judge for competitions, I have a few tips to improve your award entry.

Project summaries or narratives make or break an entry. Focus on a specific problem. Describe that problem clearly and quickly. Talk about how you went about solving the problem. Wrap up with a resolution. A compelling narrative will document opportunities that arise suddenly or describe unanticipated obstacles. If the project summary does not convey the essential story then all the flashy collateral materials are for zilch.

The presentation of collateral materials or work samples is like creating a scrapbook. It is the tactile content that supports the summary. Embellish with notes, photos, samples, and clippings. However, if you can’t secure that key chain or promotional item in the binder it would be better to include a high quality photo. Video, web, or any type of electronic materials should be included but unless the award category is specifically for this type of production don’t count on the judges to see it. A better idea would be to print samples of web content. Your website will change from the time of the project until the competition deadline. If the web content is an important part of the strategy, be sure to print or save as you go along. Finally, include only those pieces that are the most critical or best showcase your work.

Give your story a powerful ending by including photos and testimonials. The evaluation narrative is necessary but often dry. I judged an award submission that included handwritten notes from children who had participated in the event. It was a small but powerful touch to bring the entry to a close.

You be the judge! There is no better way to gain insight into how to submit award entries than to volunteer to judge competitions.