Five ways to make your next award nomination a winner

Industry awards are great for recognition, brilliant for morale and good for business. But, to be successful, entries need to be part of the daily workflow and not an afterthought. Easier said than done? Yes. But, absolutely critical, as Director of Think Intelligence, Jackie Scully explains…


We’ve all missed an award entry deadline. How quickly the date appears – and then disappears – forcing us to spend more time negotiating an extension rather than gathering the facts.

But, as recent award winners at memcom 2017 – picking up five trophies including Best Print Membership Magazine and Agency of the Year – I have one big piece of advice. Start now. Right now.


Why? Because writing an award entry is about more than filling out a form and writing a citation. It is, most importantly, about doing great work. Great work speaks for itself and it really is something worth celebrating.


Before you call a meeting and tell your team to start being ‘award-winning’, here are a few tips to make that awards process fulfilling and not just time-filling.

  • Start the process the year before – not the night before: imagine what your entry could say before you start on a project and look for data and effectiveness from day one. Then, it won’t be just your entries that improve. We can all learn something from the process.
  • Think of your entry as a good story, not a business plan: I’ve judged so many awards and the entries I remember are those that recognise there’s a human at the other end who will appreciate a good story. No one wants corporate speak. They want to get to know you. And, remember: business as usual does not an award win. All good stories need an angle, so make it memorable.
  • Think outcomes, not outputs: what you do is only relevant if you set it within the context of why you’re doing it. Solve problems, overcome challenges – and then write about them. And, don’t be afraid to talk about the bits that failed (if all your projects go to plan, then please tell us your secrets!). Every failure is a chance to demonstrate valuable learnings.
  • Measurement gets results: evidence is everything, but it’s worth remembering that success is only success if it is based on what you defined as success in the first place.
  • Get the business on board: entering awards takes time and money. It’s a business decision, so decide what awards will add value to your organisation, get senior buy-in, and then give each entry the time it deserves.


And one for luck…


  • Enjoy it: Celebrate the entry (thanking people for their contributions). Celebrate the shortlist. And hopefully, you should soon be celebrating that win. Bring the organisation along for the ride and they’ll be more likely to support you when the next request for information comes along.


So good luck (although not too much luck as we do want to keep winning awards)! We’re so proud of the awards we win for our clients.

If you’re keen to understand more about what makes an effective professional membership communication, then look out for our latest Re:member research report, out in the autumn. The survey (via Survey Monkey) is open for another two weeks, so if you would like your organisation to be included in the findings, then head there now

And, if you’d like to read more about industry insights and trends, then visit the Thinking blog on Think’s brand-new website 


Interested in entering an award? Entries to the memcom 2018 awards are now open. Please sign up to our newsletter to receive the latest MemCom news.

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