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Awards season: how to impress the judges

You need to remember three simple rules, says Pink Key Consulting’s Richard Pink.

The festive season is upon us and it’s very much party season as well. My cholesterol level and liver have reliably informed me that the promises I made to them were not worth the paper I forgot to write them on, and my head has already disowned me on a couple of mornings.

With parties in mind, it reminds me very much of the celebrations that ensue mid-year at the various award ceremonies we may attend; especially since, with the year drawing to an end, a number of award entry pages are well and truly open.

This, in a totally non-contrived way, brings me to the second part of the ‘How to win an Award’ blog I started last month.

If you recall last month we covered grammar, spelling, jargon and objectives, but what else?

You might think that your campaign was brilliant, and it really doesn’t matter how you write it up, as its brilliance will just shine through – it’s a big mistake.

I’ve judged awards for many years, I’ve chaired awards panels and I now run one of the largest awards programmes in the promotional industry, and if I know one thing, I know this – judges have no time.

Don’t get me wrong, people who asked to judge, by and large, are honoured to take the role on, and they take their role very seriously. However, in the same way that the most difficult bit of going to the gym is actually walking through the door in the first place, the toughest bit of judging entries for awards is actually picking up or opening the first entry – because you know its going to take time to do it properly.

This is why, whether the judge is given a month to mark or a week – they will do it on the last Sunday morning sat in their PJs.

So when you begin to craft your entry I want you to imagine this poor soul – they have had four weeks to do it and now they have to get it nailed as the deadline is Monday morning . I want you to be their friend and apply these simple rules.

  1. Look at the criteria that your entry is being judged against, the one PJ boy is looking at – and write your entry to those criteria. It’s asking for 10% only on the creative? Then don’t write 500 words explaining how you made it look gorgeous if 50% of the marks are allocated to results. Write your response in the order the criteria asked for it, so its dead easy to follow.
  2. Use bullet points – don’t try to embellish it, your poor weary judge won’t have the time or patience to read all the flowery prose you’ve added to make it read like Wordsworth wrote your entry. If it was as good as you think it is – it doesn’t need embellishing, just say it – clearly – and our judge will thank you. If that means you come in well under the word count, so be it, it just means your campaign spoke for itself.
  3. Bring it to life – add visuals, let the judge see how great it was, old fashioned as it may seem, a picture will always tell the story better than the words can. By all means include a video, BUT – don’t make it more than one minute long – when your judge has another 25 entries to go through the last thing they need is to be watching the awards equivalent of Ben-Hur.

That’s it – remember to do your entries nice and early so you’re not rushing at the deadline stage, as this is never going to be your best work.

Happy Christmas one and all and a Happy New Year!

Richard Pink is md of Pink Key Consulting – an agency specialising in licensing and promotions. He can be contacted on

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