You may be familiar with the idea of writing a cover letter to apply for a job. Writing an award application is similar, but it requires additional skills. Award applications are like short stories where you have to describe your company's culture, history, and achievements in several hundreds of words, or less.
What is a pitch-perfect award application? It is about nominating your company for an industry award by providing key information about what makes them worthy of the nomination.
The purpose of this article is to share best practices on how to write award submissions that are memorable, stand out, and put the right light on your nominee.
1. Start with a hook:
The award application is about your company's journey. You need to start the story with why you are applying for an award and where you want to go from there. It should be engaging enough that it captures readers' attention and make them want to read more about what comes next in the story of your nominee's success. For example, the hook can be the founder's Cinderella Story, securing a big investment round, getting a major client, or an innovative approach.
2. Make it relevant:
This might sound trivial but you can't just use your boilerplate in your application. It needs to align to the award program and category you are applying for and the question you are answering. Make sure that your application relates to the award you are applying for and show how your response is in line with its criteria.
3. Sell yourself as an industry leader:
Think about what makes your company unique and different from others in the field and showcase these qualities, highlighting your strengths while also acknowledging areas where you need improvement or where there are things to learn from other companies (especially when comparing products). You want people reading your submission to feel like they have just come across the next best thing in your industry.
4. Keep it simple:
It is important to use simple, clear language that makes sense to a broad audience of readers and reviewers, even if you are an expert in your field or company. Think about what kind of information they would need to make an informed decision about nominating you (the subject matter experts will still read the submission thoroughly), and try not to include too much superfluous information in your submission. It is wise to have a look at who evaluates the application - judges from your field? General SMEs? Public vote? You should write your application accordingly.
5. Keep it honest:
In the US, most award committees are governed by rules that prohibit offering a cash prize in exchange for winning an award or announcing their intention to win an award (known as "posturing"). This means that applicants must be careful not to create any impression of trading on your company's good reputation - you can do this by mentioning strengths and past successes in an unbiased way.
6. Keep it fresh:
Don't submit the same application year after year - give people a reason to vote for you!
7. Back it up:
Prove that your company has impacted the industry positively: Include numbers, statistics, and quotes from customers. It is also beneficial to list awards won by past employees or your company.
To sum, award applications should be written carefully and with the intention of showcasing your strengths without trading on your company's good reputation. Keep your audience in mind, don't sound like everybody else, leave your mark.