Since I joined The Yardstick Agency’s copywriting team, award entries have become my bread and butter.
I’m not sure how this happened, if I’m totally honest. One day, a client I’d never worked with needed an award entry writing on a short deadline, and I was the only writer available for the job. Luckily, I managed to pull it off with great success – and 18 months later, I’m regularly handed entries to write on behalf of a wide range of clients, from one-person firms to entire advice networks.
I’d like to say that the reason the award entries I write tend to go the distance is because I’m a once-in-a-generation super-genius. Unfortunately, this is not the case.
Indeed, it’s the following of six meticulous rules, rather than my Shakespearean levels of writing prowess, that have propelled the entries I write into shortlists and winners’ envelopes.
If you want to enter awards that could help your business stand out from the crowd, you may not know where to start. Frankly, the entry forms are often rather confusing, complicated, and time-consuming.
But as we all know, winning an award could take your company to new heights – so if you need help writing the all-important entries required, I’ve got your back.
Here are six simple tips that could help you write a winning award entry.
1. Provide evidence for every single claim you make
Awarding bodies are looking for two key components: impressive claims, and evidence to back them up.
Most people can complete the first task relatively easily, yet the second part is where you’ll turn the judges’ heads.
Every time you make a claim in your award entry, you MUST back it up with evidence. Figures, statistics, screenshots, links – all of these can be provided, either in the entry itself or in the supporting document that is usually requested alongside the written form.
Make this evidence both accessible and abundant, and you’re on the right path to impressing the board of judges.
2. Cut the fat, then go back and cut it again
Most (but not all) entry forms provide a word limit with each question, often sitting between 200 and 300 words.
At first glance, it may feel impossible to summarise and justify all your firm’s achievements in only a few hundred words.
But after writing several of these entries in the last year, I’ve found that the word limits are a blessing, not a curse. They force you to do one essential thing: cut the fat, then go back and cut it again.
Have you written a long, rambling paragraph listing all the processes your firm has implemented recently? Turn it into a stack of bullet points (but be careful of the formatting – more on this in step six).
Have you used three words where you could use one? Then just use one! Hint: “the ways in which” can be replaced with “how” in 99% of cases. You can thank me later.
To put it bluntly, the judges are interested in a concise presentation of information, not your life story. Keep it snappy, and you’ll stay within the word limit pretty easily.
3. Talk through the questions with the right people
The successful award entries I have written at Yardstick all have one key thing in common: before writing, I sat down with a senior person from that firm and went through the questions on a call.
This takes time, yes. Nobody has the time – I know. But without top level insights, your award entry is likely to be vague, and may lack the little details that only a senior employee or founder would know about.
If your firm employs several people, it’s crucial to take the time to dive into the questions with those who can provide the best input.
Making time for this often-overlooked step can help you write a stand-out entry full of top-level insights that may reward your firm with a seat at the table.
4. Dig out your thesaurus
Nobody wants to read a boring entry, so one of the easiest (and word-efficient) ways you can spice up your writing is by using a thesaurus.
Don’t believe me? Take a look at this sentence from an award entry.
“As a firm, technology became very important to our development in 2022, so we invested a lot in this area.”
There’s nothing wrong with this sentence at all, but you’ll probably agree that it doesn’t exactly “pop”.
However, if I run two key words and phrases in the sentence through an online thesaurus, here’s how the sentence could look.
“As a firm, technology became fundamental to our development in 2022, so we invested substantially in this area.”
By having a thesaurus open during the writing process you could unfreeze your writer’s block, producing an entry that’s not only concise, but reads interestingly too.
5. Read the entry aloud to yourself (yes, really)
Once you have written your award entry, read it out.
You can do this verbally, or if you use Word, the “read aloud” function (while maddeningly robotic) will help you:
- Pick out typos and grammatical clangers you’ve missed (I always find at least three)
- Hear the entry in an objective light
- Notice where you’ve repeated yourself
- Listen for a consistent tone of voice.
I never used to include this step in my work, but now I never send work to a client without asking Word to read it to me first. Trust me on this – reading entries aloud will save your skin time and again.
6. Get to grips with the quirky online entry forms
Now that your entry is written and ready to go, make sure you get to grips with the quirks of the online award entry forms.
For instance, I learned the hard way that bullet points written in Word are often counted as “words” in an online entry form, meaning the very end of your entry could be cut off when you paste your writing into it.
To solve this, simply use asterisks as bullets. It looks neat, and these aren’t normally counted as a word, provided you don’t put a space between the asterisk and the first word in the sentence.
- So, instead of a point that looks like this…
*You’d write one that looks like this.
Similarly, the line breaks in your entry might be removed by the form, so you may need to go through and enter them manually once you have pasted your entry in.
These quirks can be frustrating, but they’re usually easy to get around. If in doubt, contact the awarding body directly for help completing your form – just make sure you do so in plenty of time before the deadline.
Need help writing those all-important award entries? We’ve got you covered
Writing award entries doesn’t have to be difficult, but if you need help making your firm stand out on paper, we’ve got you covered here at Yardstick.
If you’d like us to write an entry on your behalf, or simply offer advice for entering them yourself, email email@example.com or call 0115 8965 300 today.