I know it’s June and we are just months out from completing the 2017 state awards program, and then I even turned around and asked you to help me judge awards for West Virginia (gasp!); so WHY am I here talking about awards… again? Simple. To keep you thinking about the awards process!

While things are (relatively) fresh on our brains I wanted to share with you some insight I’ve gained seeing the awards process from every angle. And while I may be referencing PRCA awards, I’m certain the information carries over to all award entries.

  1. No excuses. Start now.
    The awards happen every year. It’s not a surprise. The deadline may change each time but we all know it’s roughly going to be around the same time each year, barring any major changes to the conference. So why wait until you find out the actual deadline? Start now. Start when you start your project. The entry follows the process of your project so write each section as you go. Doing this can serve as a sort of checks-and-balances to make sure you are doing those vital parts (RPIE) of your campaign/publication/event and not just deciding things on your own.
  2. Don’t stress the small stuff.
    Categories matter but really, not so much. There IS a category for everything! If you can’t find the right category for you then your category is “potpourri.” Problem solved. I know this may seem like such a small thing but sometimes the small things turn into a big hurdle and an excuse to not do something. Don’t let it stop you!
  3. Answer everything. Completely.
    One of the biggest mistakes I see is people not fully answering the questions on the entry. It’s great that your campaign, event, brochure, etc. is absolutely AH-mazing but, if you don’t TELL your story in your entry the judge isn’t going to know it. The awards process isn’t just about the final product. It’s about the steps you took to get to the final product (Remember RPIE?). And tell all. The judge isn’t familiar with your company or organization or the event so don’t assume they know who/what you are. Rather, assume they know nothing and tell them.
  4. Be specific.
    Don’t just say you did research, tell what research you did. Was it formal or informal? What was your response rate on the survey? Who did you interview? Etc.Don’t just say your event was a success. HOW was it a success? In measurable terms.
    Don’t just say “we increased awareness.” HOW did you do this and how do you know you did it?
    Be specific. Be detailed. Remember, the judge only has the information you give them, don’t leave anything out. 
  5. Spell-check is your friend!
    ALWAYS put your entry in Word and use spell-check. This one simple step can go a long way. Just do it.
  6. And it doesn’t hurt to use your colleagues either.
    Ask someone to critique your work. Preferably someone not connected to the project. Arm them with nothing more than your entry (complete package of what you will enter in the system – narrative and any supporting documentation), along with the judging criteria. Ask them to review your entry as if they were the judge.
  7. Serve as a judge yourself.
    Don’t shy away from judging just because you’ve never entered. You are still a professional. You’ve got expertise. You’ll get to see the other side of the awards coin and see for yourself what other professionals are doing right and what they can improve on in their entries.
  8. It’s okay (encouraged actually) to double dip!
    Use PRCA and SPRF awards programs to continue tweaking your entry and your process! The PRCA Medallions typically take place in the beginning of the year and the SPRF Lanterns later in the fall. You can enter both and one is not dependent on the other. PRCA and SPRF use the same award management system – OpenWater. So, you can enter PRCA’s Medallions then use the feedback from the judges to edit your entry and re-enter the same submission for SPRF Lanterns (or vice versa) as long as your work falls within the time frame specified for each awards program. The deadline for SPRF awards is July 28, 2017. For more information on this program visit: http://sprf.org/content.php?page=Awards.

As always if you have any questions about any part of the process please feel free to reach out to me, or others who have entered. Most people are willing to help; and since each entry is judged independently and not against the other entries it’s not really a competition but rather a chance for you to have your work reviewed by colleagues.

Happy awards writing!
-Penny

Questions|Comments|Suggestions: Contact 2017 Awards Chair Penny Hatcher at phatcher@soearth.com.