How to: the art of writing winning award entries

Winning an industry award is possibly the biggest pat on the back there is.

But with so many awards ceremonies in the business events industry, for emerging agencies, it can be difficult to know where to start or even how to write an entry that will get them shortlisted.

So we spoke to Cecilia Law, senior marketing manager at creative communications agency, DRPG, about how to navigate the awards scene and the key to writing a winning entry.

Does winning an industry award add value to an event agency?

Entering awards has its value, it acts as a platform to showcase your work, regardless of the size of the agency, so, therefore, winning awards or even just entering is testament to the creativity and skill of work that has been put into a project.

Also on the other side, it’s a good PR opportunity for maximizing visibility, not only for the brand but also for the client you’ve done the project for. It’s a good content generator that you can always link back to your expertise and your services.

More than anything, it builds trust and credibility among your clients because the work that you’re doing on their behalf is award-worthy, so it builds confidence among them that says ‘we can deliver for you’.

Does winning an industry award make an agency more reputable?

Yes and no. It depends on the type of awards that you go for.

The trade magazine awards are well respected and well-known to all event agencies, so winning one would be an accolade for them.

But if you’re entering an award that no one has ever heard of, one that doesn’t really have visibility among your competitors, it might not add that much value or help the agency profile.

What awards should event agencies be aiming to receive?

It depends on what the event agencies specialise in.

As I mentioned, trade magazine awards are well respected and if you’re a member of an association, such as EVCOM, it’s really valuable to be recognised among your peer network.

However, speaking from a specialism expertise point of view, if you are a very creative agency, winning a D&AD award would be of more value to your company than say, winning an exhibitions stand award.

What would you say is the formula for writing a winning award entry?

I know the word is overused but ‘storytelling’ is a big thing. The context, doing your research, painting the picture as to why your solution, whether it be an event or activation, helped the client.

The first part of that storytelling is essential because, without context, you’re just jumping straight into a conclusion of a plot and not taking the judges on your journey.

You want to let the judges understand what the client’s situation was before you offered them your solution and then illustrate how the solution satisfied their objectives and built on brand awareness.

It’s your first time entering an award, what type of event do you enter?

If you’re an event agency just starting out in award entries, you need to be realistic about what it is that you’re entering.

For example, if you decide to go for a certain scheme, look at the previous winners as a temperature check for whether your project is of the right level and calibre to be entering that scheme.

What advice would you give to an agency entering an award for the first time?

Always identify the relevance of that scheme to your business and also your audience.

It’s important to substantiate the storytelling with facts, stats and testimonials. Always give the evidence and provide a testimonial from a client, because it’s proof that you’ve delivered for them and they’re happy with the project.

It’s also good to use media like pictures and videos, but be careful what pictures you use. You don’t want an empty space in an exhibition, but one that is full of people and engagement. It’s those kinds of details that will help evidence your entry.