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BEST PRACTICES FOR
WRITING AND SUBMITTING
AN AWARD-WINNING ENTRY
WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO WIN AN AWARD?01
WHAT ARE COMMON PITFALLS TO AVOID?
AND BEST PRACTICES TO FOLLOW?
WHAT ARE JUDGES LOOKING FOR?03
02
Learn How To:
• Prepare a stronger award entry
• Identify (and act on!) what judges are looking for in a winner
• Make everyday PR programs and tactics even better
• Provide what the judges are looking for – and ensure your entry
meets all the criteria
5
Why Enter Awards Competitions?
• Award competitions are expensive and time consuming, so why do
we enter them?
• Clients like to know the work they pay for is “award winning”
• It makes us feel good to receive validation from our peers that
our work is top notch
• New business prospects want to hire winners
• New employees want to work with winners
• It helps raise our brand profile
• The process keeps us up to date in capturing our programs (have
case studies written and results documented)
• Awards look great in your office lobby!
How to Win
• A solid entry focuses on:
• Strategic writing
• Framing the assignment and merchandising the results
• What made this particularly challenging?
• Research, objectives and results
• Quantifiable results tied to business objectives, not just
media impressions
Surefire Ways to Turn Winning Work
Into a Losing Entry
• Ignoring the instructions
• Exceeding length, format, request and guidelines for
supporting materials
• Sending your boilerplate case study
• Different awards measure different things
• Sloppy copying and proofing
• If you don’t care enough to make it look great, why
should a judge think it’s great?
• Not putting ourselves in the judges shoes
• Too much info, inside baseball, boring writing
• Being overly tactical
5
Before You Begin
• Take the time to carefully read the award criteria and categories
• Review previous winning entries
• Choose the right category
• Think about who/what else will probably be entered in those
categories
• Is this really award worthy?
So, what’s a great program?
IT’S MULTI-DIMENSIONAL
• Variety of tactics
• Creative, out-of-the-box thinking
IT HAS SIGNIFICANT BUSINESS OBJECTIVES
• Goes beyond “raising awareness” to shape
perceptions and affect behavior
IT DELIVERS AN IMPORTANT OUTCOME
• Backed up by measurable results
9
FOCUS ON THE
TWO-PAGE
ENTRY!
First Step: Clear Your Mind
• Step out of client mode to write a good award entry – you know too
much about your client and everything is obvious to you
• Start by writing an outline
• What did the client ask you to do?
• What were the inherent challenges of the assignment?
• What makes this different from the other good – even great –
work you’ve done in the past?
• Could this be classified as a “me too” program?
✓ Compelling story and business challenge
✓ Effectively addresses required four sections,
with measurable goals and results
Research Planning Execution Evaluation
Picking Your Best Work
Strategic Entry Writing
• Nothing is obvious
• What was the assignment?
• What were the inherent challenges of this assignment?
• What were the environmental factors that created unforeseen challenges?
• What makes this different from the other work you have done in the past?
• Start with a compelling title
• Don’t just call your entry “Category 1, New product launch”
• A catchy title draws the judges in before they even begin
Situation Analysis
• Equivalent to the lead of a news release
• Who, what, where, why, when, how
• This is the place to provide background information or context; set up the
objectives and results
• Did the competitor launch a similar product the month prior?
• Did several of your clients’ peer companies recently go out of business?
• Were union negotiations upcoming?
• Was legislation being discussed that would impact your client or issue?
• Was there a management change?
• It must pass the “So what?” test: good work on run-of-the-mill
assignments don’t usually make the cut
• Again, it’s all in the presentation of the facts – sell the judges!
Objectives
• Remember what your initial conversations were about: don’t get bogged down in
the tactics
• Work backwards from your results…without being obvious
• Think about the clients’ business goals: the clips are a means to an end
• Objectives can be to prevent something or achieve something
• Make sure you have something to demonstrate success on a business objective:
driving sales, retaining key employees, growing market share, etc.
Basis of your campaign: why you did what you did
• Proves need for program
• Creates benchmarks
• Provides data to develop smart objectives, strategies and tactics,
and to identify target audiences
Research Planning Execution Evaluation
The Role of ResearchResearch
Research: Putting your best foot forward
If you did this… Then it’s called…
Called a few reporters or analysts to learn about the issue Conducted perception interviews with key industry media
Called a few reporters, did some internet research and
read some reports
Primary and secondary perception study
Key influencer perception study
Peer company analysis
Spent a few afternoons meeting with different executives at
the client’s location
Executive survey - internal
Met with some client executives and called an
acquaintance in the industry
Industry-wide executive survey
Met with an employee who worked on something similar in
the past
Historical review and identification of key elements of
success
Show and summarize “cause and effect” of primary
and/or secondary research
• Conducted consumer focus group that revealed
90 percent of target moms use the internet to
research products before making major
purchases, meaning the program needed a
strong online component
RESEARCH: JUDGE’S TIP
PLANNING
Demonstrates what you set out to do
• Defines measurable, quantifiable objectives
• Defines key strategies
• Identifies target audiences
• Identifies specific PR budget
Research Planning Execution Evaluation
Planning
Focus on objectives that have meaningful numbers and
outcomes – beyond “create awareness” or “build buzz”
• Contributed to a 10% increase in sales for XYZ product in the first six months
of the launch
• Increased social media engagement by 17% across all key platforms within
Q1
• Reduced negative share of voice by 50%
• Drove 34% more foot traffic at ABC Tradeshow & Conference
• Achieved 90% employee retention, following corporate merger
• Helped secure passage of XYZ legislation based on public outreach campaign
PLANNING: JUDGE’S TIP
Shares what you actually did
• Summarizes tactics/elements of plan
• Shows how they worked together to reach your objectives and target audience
• Highlights creativity
• Ties into research and planning
Research Planning Execution Evaluation
Execution
Strategy vs. Tactics
• STRATEGY is the “big picture” – the overall plan, how the campaign
will achieve organizational goals and objectives. It involves deciding
who the important publics are and which of them will be the
recipients of your messages (i.e., “target audiences”).
• TACTICS are activities specifically created and selected to reach
specific and measurable objectives. Tactics are the actual ways in
which the strategies are executed, e.g., newsletters, media
coverage, seminars, trade shows, advertising, website, and any
other tool that target audiences actually are exposed to.
Public relations is about strategy,
and how tactics integrate into that strategy.
Strategy
• Can be combined with discussion of the tactics, but should never be confused
with tactics
• Choosing a lead reporter to offer an exclusive to set the tone is a strategy
• Securing a WSJ exclusive is a tactic
• Securing a USA Today exclusive to drive “day of” TV coverage is a strategy and a
tactic
• This is the place where all of your smart thinking can be highlighted
• Refer back to your research, objectives, situation
• Since we needed to attract new customers, we knew that targeting xx media
wouldn’t be enough
• With the goal of increasing market share by 3% in mind, it would take more than
just publicity: we needed xxx
• Because six similar products had been launched in as many months…
• With a new, unknown CEO at the helm, establishing credibility was critical…
Logically execute the execution section!
• Organize tactics under each strategy according to timing,
program phases or audience
• Explain the why, how and what behind tactics – give rationale
and add “color” to bring tactic descriptions to life
EXECUTION: JUDGE’S TIP
Proves how you know you succeeded
• Shares results against stated measurable objectives
• Shows how PR affected any change, behaviors or actions
• Highlights any next steps
Research Planning Execution Evaluation
Evaluation
This is where the rubber meets the road: if you’ve done the set up correctly, this part should be
as easy as copy and paste!
• Copy your stated objectives from the planning section directly into the evaluation section
• Update with your results, showing exactly what you set out to do and what you did
EVALUATION: JUDGE’S TIP
Objective: Increase sales by 10% in top 10 markets
Result: Increased sales by 20% in top 10 markets, doubling our goal
Strategic Entry Writing
and Aesthetics
• Making it look good counts
• Use color for impact and interest…but be selective
• Re-read for typos, grammar
• Re-read for content: Do results match the objectives? Have you
set up the situation analysis correctly?
• Have an experienced person who WASN’T INVOLVED WITH THE
PROGRAM read your entry to make sure they “get it”
• Keep it to the page requirements: exceeding the length
requirement can disqualify you
27
5
At the end you’ll be able to:
• Prepare a stronger award entry
• Identify (and act on!) what judges are looking for in a winner
• Make everyday PR programs and tactics even better
• Know what the judges are looking for – and be able to make sure
your entry meets all the criteria
THE SECRETS
OF JUDGING
The judges can’t (and don’t) read everything
Make your supporting materials skim-worthy
Supporting Documentation
• Include your best media hits and an executive
summary – not every single hit
• Think about the objectives, and present results
appropriately: Did a major placement result in 100,000
new web downloads? If so, say it!
• Document key items cited in the two-page summary
• Less is more: Include key documents supporting
success, claims and tactics
• Help judges navigate back-up information: Clearly mark
items, highlight key points
What Happens During
the Judging Process
• Judges review 2-page summaries to eliminate entries or keep them in the
running
• How to kill your entry:
• Don’t include all elements or business results
• Submit your entry in the wrong category
• Present non-measurable objectives
• “I’ve seen this before, so what…”
• Score remaining entries against 4-step process with full binder or pdf of
support materials as back-up
• Discuss top vote-getters to name winner/runners-up
BE A GOOD STORYTELLER
• Framing the assignment and merchandising the results are key
• Research, objectives and results are critical
• Results must be quantifiable and tied to business objectives…not
just clips
• A well-crafted story ensures all criteria connect
• Showcase smart, strategic thinking in situation/audience analysis,
research, objectives, execution evaluation
• Outline measurable objectives and results
32
QUESTIONS?
@PRSANJ

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How to Write and Submit an Award-Winning Pyramids Entry

  • 1. 1 BEST PRACTICES FOR WRITING AND SUBMITTING AN AWARD-WINNING ENTRY
  • 2. WHAT DOES IT TAKE TO WIN AN AWARD?01 WHAT ARE COMMON PITFALLS TO AVOID? AND BEST PRACTICES TO FOLLOW? WHAT ARE JUDGES LOOKING FOR?03 02
  • 3. Learn How To: • Prepare a stronger award entry • Identify (and act on!) what judges are looking for in a winner • Make everyday PR programs and tactics even better • Provide what the judges are looking for – and ensure your entry meets all the criteria
  • 4. 5 Why Enter Awards Competitions? • Award competitions are expensive and time consuming, so why do we enter them? • Clients like to know the work they pay for is “award winning” • It makes us feel good to receive validation from our peers that our work is top notch • New business prospects want to hire winners • New employees want to work with winners • It helps raise our brand profile • The process keeps us up to date in capturing our programs (have case studies written and results documented) • Awards look great in your office lobby!
  • 5. How to Win • A solid entry focuses on: • Strategic writing • Framing the assignment and merchandising the results • What made this particularly challenging? • Research, objectives and results • Quantifiable results tied to business objectives, not just media impressions
  • 6. Surefire Ways to Turn Winning Work Into a Losing Entry • Ignoring the instructions • Exceeding length, format, request and guidelines for supporting materials • Sending your boilerplate case study • Different awards measure different things • Sloppy copying and proofing • If you don’t care enough to make it look great, why should a judge think it’s great? • Not putting ourselves in the judges shoes • Too much info, inside baseball, boring writing • Being overly tactical
  • 7. 5 Before You Begin • Take the time to carefully read the award criteria and categories • Review previous winning entries • Choose the right category • Think about who/what else will probably be entered in those categories • Is this really award worthy?
  • 8. So, what’s a great program? IT’S MULTI-DIMENSIONAL • Variety of tactics • Creative, out-of-the-box thinking IT HAS SIGNIFICANT BUSINESS OBJECTIVES • Goes beyond “raising awareness” to shape perceptions and affect behavior IT DELIVERS AN IMPORTANT OUTCOME • Backed up by measurable results
  • 10. First Step: Clear Your Mind • Step out of client mode to write a good award entry – you know too much about your client and everything is obvious to you • Start by writing an outline • What did the client ask you to do? • What were the inherent challenges of the assignment? • What makes this different from the other good – even great – work you’ve done in the past? • Could this be classified as a “me too” program?
  • 11. ✓ Compelling story and business challenge ✓ Effectively addresses required four sections, with measurable goals and results Research Planning Execution Evaluation Picking Your Best Work
  • 12. Strategic Entry Writing • Nothing is obvious • What was the assignment? • What were the inherent challenges of this assignment? • What were the environmental factors that created unforeseen challenges? • What makes this different from the other work you have done in the past? • Start with a compelling title • Don’t just call your entry “Category 1, New product launch” • A catchy title draws the judges in before they even begin
  • 13. Situation Analysis • Equivalent to the lead of a news release • Who, what, where, why, when, how • This is the place to provide background information or context; set up the objectives and results • Did the competitor launch a similar product the month prior? • Did several of your clients’ peer companies recently go out of business? • Were union negotiations upcoming? • Was legislation being discussed that would impact your client or issue? • Was there a management change? • It must pass the “So what?” test: good work on run-of-the-mill assignments don’t usually make the cut • Again, it’s all in the presentation of the facts – sell the judges!
  • 14. Objectives • Remember what your initial conversations were about: don’t get bogged down in the tactics • Work backwards from your results…without being obvious • Think about the clients’ business goals: the clips are a means to an end • Objectives can be to prevent something or achieve something • Make sure you have something to demonstrate success on a business objective: driving sales, retaining key employees, growing market share, etc.
  • 15. Basis of your campaign: why you did what you did • Proves need for program • Creates benchmarks • Provides data to develop smart objectives, strategies and tactics, and to identify target audiences Research Planning Execution Evaluation The Role of ResearchResearch
  • 16. Research: Putting your best foot forward If you did this… Then it’s called… Called a few reporters or analysts to learn about the issue Conducted perception interviews with key industry media Called a few reporters, did some internet research and read some reports Primary and secondary perception study Key influencer perception study Peer company analysis Spent a few afternoons meeting with different executives at the client’s location Executive survey - internal Met with some client executives and called an acquaintance in the industry Industry-wide executive survey Met with an employee who worked on something similar in the past Historical review and identification of key elements of success
  • 17. Show and summarize “cause and effect” of primary and/or secondary research • Conducted consumer focus group that revealed 90 percent of target moms use the internet to research products before making major purchases, meaning the program needed a strong online component RESEARCH: JUDGE’S TIP
  • 18. PLANNING Demonstrates what you set out to do • Defines measurable, quantifiable objectives • Defines key strategies • Identifies target audiences • Identifies specific PR budget Research Planning Execution Evaluation Planning
  • 19. Focus on objectives that have meaningful numbers and outcomes – beyond “create awareness” or “build buzz” • Contributed to a 10% increase in sales for XYZ product in the first six months of the launch • Increased social media engagement by 17% across all key platforms within Q1 • Reduced negative share of voice by 50% • Drove 34% more foot traffic at ABC Tradeshow & Conference • Achieved 90% employee retention, following corporate merger • Helped secure passage of XYZ legislation based on public outreach campaign PLANNING: JUDGE’S TIP
  • 20. Shares what you actually did • Summarizes tactics/elements of plan • Shows how they worked together to reach your objectives and target audience • Highlights creativity • Ties into research and planning Research Planning Execution Evaluation Execution
  • 21. Strategy vs. Tactics • STRATEGY is the “big picture” – the overall plan, how the campaign will achieve organizational goals and objectives. It involves deciding who the important publics are and which of them will be the recipients of your messages (i.e., “target audiences”). • TACTICS are activities specifically created and selected to reach specific and measurable objectives. Tactics are the actual ways in which the strategies are executed, e.g., newsletters, media coverage, seminars, trade shows, advertising, website, and any other tool that target audiences actually are exposed to. Public relations is about strategy, and how tactics integrate into that strategy.
  • 22. Strategy • Can be combined with discussion of the tactics, but should never be confused with tactics • Choosing a lead reporter to offer an exclusive to set the tone is a strategy • Securing a WSJ exclusive is a tactic • Securing a USA Today exclusive to drive “day of” TV coverage is a strategy and a tactic • This is the place where all of your smart thinking can be highlighted • Refer back to your research, objectives, situation • Since we needed to attract new customers, we knew that targeting xx media wouldn’t be enough • With the goal of increasing market share by 3% in mind, it would take more than just publicity: we needed xxx • Because six similar products had been launched in as many months… • With a new, unknown CEO at the helm, establishing credibility was critical…
  • 23. Logically execute the execution section! • Organize tactics under each strategy according to timing, program phases or audience • Explain the why, how and what behind tactics – give rationale and add “color” to bring tactic descriptions to life EXECUTION: JUDGE’S TIP
  • 24. Proves how you know you succeeded • Shares results against stated measurable objectives • Shows how PR affected any change, behaviors or actions • Highlights any next steps Research Planning Execution Evaluation Evaluation
  • 25. This is where the rubber meets the road: if you’ve done the set up correctly, this part should be as easy as copy and paste! • Copy your stated objectives from the planning section directly into the evaluation section • Update with your results, showing exactly what you set out to do and what you did EVALUATION: JUDGE’S TIP Objective: Increase sales by 10% in top 10 markets Result: Increased sales by 20% in top 10 markets, doubling our goal
  • 26. Strategic Entry Writing and Aesthetics • Making it look good counts • Use color for impact and interest…but be selective • Re-read for typos, grammar • Re-read for content: Do results match the objectives? Have you set up the situation analysis correctly? • Have an experienced person who WASN’T INVOLVED WITH THE PROGRAM read your entry to make sure they “get it” • Keep it to the page requirements: exceeding the length requirement can disqualify you
  • 27. 27 5 At the end you’ll be able to: • Prepare a stronger award entry • Identify (and act on!) what judges are looking for in a winner • Make everyday PR programs and tactics even better • Know what the judges are looking for – and be able to make sure your entry meets all the criteria THE SECRETS OF JUDGING
  • 28. The judges can’t (and don’t) read everything Make your supporting materials skim-worthy
  • 29. Supporting Documentation • Include your best media hits and an executive summary – not every single hit • Think about the objectives, and present results appropriately: Did a major placement result in 100,000 new web downloads? If so, say it! • Document key items cited in the two-page summary • Less is more: Include key documents supporting success, claims and tactics • Help judges navigate back-up information: Clearly mark items, highlight key points
  • 30. What Happens During the Judging Process • Judges review 2-page summaries to eliminate entries or keep them in the running • How to kill your entry: • Don’t include all elements or business results • Submit your entry in the wrong category • Present non-measurable objectives • “I’ve seen this before, so what…” • Score remaining entries against 4-step process with full binder or pdf of support materials as back-up • Discuss top vote-getters to name winner/runners-up
  • 31. BE A GOOD STORYTELLER • Framing the assignment and merchandising the results are key • Research, objectives and results are critical • Results must be quantifiable and tied to business objectives…not just clips • A well-crafted story ensures all criteria connect • Showcase smart, strategic thinking in situation/audience analysis, research, objectives, execution evaluation • Outline measurable objectives and results