and the winner is…

Twice this year I have had the opportunity to be a judge on some prestigious awards in the marketing and communications industry. I give my time because I get a lot out of it. I see some first class work. I see some inspiring work. I see some places I would love to work. I find the perspectives of the other judges interesting. I meet people I would like to hang out with. Above all, I learn a lot.

One of the things I do learn is how not to submit an entry for awards. Some are so on brief it is awesome. Their credibility is immediately apparent. Unfortunately, some are so off brief that you have to question their motives. Here are my tips on submitting awards.

To me, if the entry document says there are four criteria of equal weighting for an award, I would probably do an entry putting the same emphasis on the the four criteria. Some do – some don’t. My advice? Present in the format of the criteria.

In a previous role, I had a design task that needed doing. One of the selection criteria was examples of previous work. Well, just about every applicant decided to put some claim on a particular piece of high profile work. As the project leader, I then had to spend a day checking on the bond-fides of the claims made on the previous piece of work. My question was simple, what was his or her role? It was quite revealing. It exposed a lot of people for claiming work on a project that they had only a minor involvement in. As Shania Twain use to sing… “That don’t impress me much…”.

The same with awards. Judges are not dumb. They’re there because they are usually quite experienced and knowledgable. If you did a one day “PR stunt” to launch a new line of product, don’t say or imply it was ‘responsible’ for a ten per cent lift in overall sales for the year. Don’t say your $100k below the line campaign changed perceptions by ten per cent. How much was the above the line spend on the same campaign? $3 million. The app was downloaded how many times? Oh really. You get my drift. Likewise, don’t claim or imply credit for a creative idea that wasn’t yours. There’s a big difference between implementing a recycled or imported idea to rightfully claiming credit for something the intern at staff drinks on a Friday night came up with. My message is simple. Break out what you did and claim credit for what is rightfully your intellectual property. If you implemented locally or modified a global idea, then say so. There’s no shame in that.

I like the POSE model – paid, owned, shared and earned media. Where did the overall strategy and creative/message come from? Where did the tactics for each element of POSE come from? What were the measurable outcomes and return on investment for each of the POSE activities. Marketing and communications is all about changing behaviours. What behaviours did your activity change over what period of time, for what benefit and at what cost?

I was a big fan of the TV show, CSI (Las Vegas). I loved Gill Grissom’s advice to his junior CSI when investigating a crime – “follow the evidence”. That’s what’s I do on a project or judging awards – follow the evidence. And the winner is… Structure, integrity, ownership and desired results.


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