Any PR expert will tell you that helping their clients to win business awards is part of their daily routine – it improves the client’s reputation and creates many opportunities for positive coverage.

But what they won’t tell you is that entering and winning awards are tricky processes involving jumping through many hoops.

With award hosts receiving a substantial amount of entries for each category (a regional news publication recently told me that they receive around 150 entries for their business awards), it’s important that your submission stands out amongst the fierce competition.

One of the key ways to do this is to tell a great story throughout your entry. You should have a consistent narrative that flows across your answers to the different questions asked. Whilst it can be difficult to do this in very few words, it’s important that you build up a strong and cohesive impression of the company.

I could write endlessly about the best ways to win business awards, but the following five top tips are the ones that I’ve found to be most important:

1. Plan ahead

Whilst my clients and I have still been successful in crafting winning submissions at the eleventh hour, you increase your chances if you can plan a submission well in advance of the deadline. This will give you time to:

  1. evaluate the submission criteria
  2. insert accurate and up-to-date figures
  3. get permission from any clients that you mention (if necessary)
  4. seek feedback from other staff members
  5. check the submission multiple times

2. Tailor the submission

Recruiters and employers often bemoan the amount of applications they receive that are clearly cut-and-paste jobs, and the same is true with award submissions. Using the same sort of language in different applications is inevitable if you want to accurately describe the business, but make sure each question has been specifically addressed.

3. Take an outsider’s perspective

As with any writing, it’s vital that you consider your audience – the awards panel. What knowledge could you expect them to have? What industry terms would they find difficult to understand? Which projects are the most interesting to someone outside the industry?

4. Think about your progress

This ties in with my earlier point about telling a story. Award panels love to read tales of companies innovating in their industries, implementing better processes and investing in their staff/equipment, as well as about companies starting local and going global. Although using figures (e.g. turnover increases) can be a great way to show evidence of progress, the panel will also want to read about your current procedures and your plans for the future.

5. Consider the next step

Whether you win or not, it can really help your future award submissions if you ask for feedback about what appealed to the judges and what fell flat.

If you do win, think about all the opportunities for positive press and shout about your win from the rooftops – or rather, from social media, your website and in email shots.

Win or lose, don’t rest on your laurels – get crafting your next submission!

Check out my earlier article – top tips on writing a winning award submission,