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The Art of Award Entries: A Judge’s Guide

Author image Published by Olivia Wright
Published Date 15.01.2024

The opportunity to announce winners at the 2023 UK Social Media Awards was an amazing experience; the hours of reviewing entries and discussing with other judges were brought to life when you could see the anticipation in the room from nervous introductions on arrival through to the reactions when the winner’s name was announced. It was truly a privilege to be involved, and I’m delighted to be back judging entries for another year.

As a judge the responsibility is high. We have standards and criteria to agree to, but we also know what it means to receive an award and the impact that can have on individuals and organisations over the next 12 months and more. The process of judging entries is rigorous. We need to spend time understanding the awards criteria, the scoring requirements and reading the entries.

There is an art to writing an award entry, and from a judge’s perspective that mastery comes through when you are reading multiple documents against a looming shortlisting deadline.

Here are a few entry-writing tips to help you capture attention and win points:

1) Provide context. Award entries can only be judged using the information provided. We may or may not have an awareness of the entering organisation or campaign. (If we have any association with the entry, we opt out of judging so there is no conflict of interest or bias). It’s really valuable for entries to provide details as if there is no prior understanding of the product/service or industry. Even when word counts are limited it’s so useful to provide the judging panel with context so that they truly understand what you were seeking to achieve, and why it should win an award.

2) Answer the questions. No doubt you’ve heard this since the days of sitting exams at school, and it sounds obvious, but it always happens! Sometimes a question gets missed out completely which means a score cannot be given, and that could be a whole 10 points! Each question on the entry form requires an answer, and it’s very difficult to assess against a single-sentence response. Look carefully through the judging criteria when preparing your entry and allocate your word count across the questions.

3) Share your uniqueness. A judge is looking at lots of entries (sometimes 30 or more) so they are looking for entries that stand out when giving their marks during the pre-judging stage. We know the value of winning awards and so take the process seriously; not only are we judging against set criteria, but we want the winners to be ‘award-winning’ and to be proud to announce that name on the night. The Global and UK Social Media awards are all about recognising outstanding achievements and innovations in the world of social media marketing, so demonstrate what is outstanding and innovative within your entry. Think beyond the obvious challenges such as time and budget. Show the judges what was unique about your work.

4) Be SMART. If there’s something I specifically look out for in an award entry, it’s objectives. And I want them to be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-related). When we’re pre-judging entries we’re asked to provide feedback, and this is usually the topic I address as requiring more detail. An award entry tells a story, and if you can start with clear objectives, it guides a judge through the following questions and through to a clearer understanding of the results information.

5) Demonstrate long-term impacts. I love to see the wider impact of an award entry, particularly when it’s people-related. For example, previous entries have included information showing how success has led to increased business for an agency. We’ve seen how ways of working such as process changes have positively impacted internal culture. If there’s an opportunity to show how your award entry has longer-term impacts beyond the immediate campaign timeframe, please share and get us excited about being able to recognise you as an award winner!

The judging panels for the Global and UK Social Media Awards await your 2024 entry. I’m excited to see behind the scenes of the great work that’s happening in our industry and to hopefully announce your name at this year’s awards ceremony!

About the author

Luan Wise is a chartered marketer and Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing (FCIM). She delivers social media support to individuals and organisations across the world via consultancy and training. Luan is a course instructor for LinkedIn Learning, a lead trainer for Meta and an award-winning author on the topic of social media marketing.

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