Words by Chris Green
The last quarter of the year is always a busy time in any business sector. The so-called “Golden Quarter” might be a key trading period for many, but it is also a feverish period of activity and excitement – it’s IT awards season!
While awards programmes and ceremonies can be found all across the year, Q4 in the technology sector sees an abundance of them, led by one of the biggest and most prestigious on the calendar – the UK IT Industry Awards, a joint production between Computing Magazine and BCS – The Chartered Institute for IT.
Awards are an important part of the business world. It’s not about ego, or superficial branding. It’s not about having a nice row of trophies in your company’s lobby. It’s about validating, celebrating and telling a wider audience about the amazing work that people have done within your organisation.
Doing award-winning, or at least award-nominated work is a major boost for your organisation, your employees, your customers and your partners. When everyone thinks they may be creating or involved in award-winning activity, it can be a source of immense physical and mental support for your efforts. No question, that makes doing the hard work feel all the more worthwhile.
This year, the UK IT Industry Awards recently held its annual shortlist day in Manchester, and Bright Bee clients were in attendance. Where many award programmes rely solely on a written entry, what sets this particular programme apart is the shortlist day. The companies and individuals shortlisted in each category are asked to come along to a judging day and supplement their entry with an in-person presentation and Q&A with a small panel of judges. Each individual award has its own mini panel of judges, each dedicated to identifying a winner and a runner-up in that category. It is the combination of the written entry, and the ability to add a real human face, voice and emotion to the entry that often makes the difference.
It is one thing to write a good award entry that says we are amazing, that our widget is the best, or that our project changed a business for the better or improved lives. However, being able to also articulate the emotional importance of why something is worthy of recognition by its peers is something else.
Nevertheless, we must not dismiss the importance of that written entry and all the effort that goes into writing it. After all, it is the first, and often the only thing that will convince a panel of judges that you deserve recognition for your achievement.
When entering any technology-centric award opportunity, here are a few tips to help you approach the task of creating an entry that will convey your story:
– When writing an entry, the key is to be thorough. Don’t skimp on the details about the actual activity you are entering for, but avoid spending too much time talking about things not directly related to it.
– Avoid jargon. This is not a marketing document, but rather an impassioned story told honestly from the point of view of the people actually involved in the technology, project or working practice. As much as possible, let people tell the story in their own words, rather than applying corporate terminology or a communications style guide.
– Don’t forget to measure the results. In most technology award scenarios, such as a project, a technology or an innovation award, you need evidence of success, change, benefit or difference. These proof points will support your argument that the work and accomplishments deserve recognition. It’s actually easy to overlook these metrics when telling your story, but don’t – they are essential to a useful award entry.
– Consider the rules. For instance, award entries often have word counts, so be mindful of this when writing your entry. It can be hard to separate good entries when shortlisting candidates, but ignoring and overshooting a word limit will give judges a clear reason to eliminate you from consideration.
Award entries have other uses. Often, a good award entry will also be the basis for a useful case study for your business. It means the effort and time that goes into writing it can have dual use, supporting your award efforts as well as being useable as a PR and marketing tool later on.
Chris Green is Bright Bee’s Head of Content. An experienced journalist and communicator, he has served as a judge on a wide variety of business and technology awards judging panels over the last 20 years.