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10 steps to writing a winning award entry

29 January 2019

So, the categories have been announced for the PFM awards… and the deadline will be here before you know it. Winning industry awards isn’t just a matter of luck.

If you’re going to spend time and money entering an award scheme, then it’s worth planning it properly and producing the best entry you can.

Over the past eight years, Magenta has helped many clients to reach the winners’ podium. Here’s MD Cathy Hayward’s 10 steps to writing a winning award entry…

There are dedicated award programmes for the facilities management sector and you should certainly consider these. But also think about the impact you’re trying to make. Do you want to raise your profile in a particular sector?

It might be worth looking at awards for service in that sector - healthcare or education, for example. Are you working outside of the UK? Consider entering a European or global award programme.

It’s surprising how many entries are received by awards organisers that don’t meet the entry criteria. Many awards have time criteria – for example, a project must have been started or completed within a certain timeframe.

Check your entry is eligible. Some awards will require “counter-signing” of entries by clients. Make sure you have complied. Some awards organisers are sticklers for detail, so check maximum word counts and format stipulations.

You might want to win the ‘Best Company’ category but so do lots of other people. It’s good to be ambitious but another strategy is to improve your chances of making the shortlist or winning by entering less popular categories.

For some awards you can ask the organisers which categories are oversubscribed, and which are struggling for entries. You might also want to check category sponsors. Do you want to receive an award from a competitor smiling through gritted teeth!

Possibly the most crucial decision. Don’t opt simply for your latest or biggest project. Think carefully about whether you have a good relationship with your client and the depth of material you’ll need to put together a winning entry.

Not all award categories involve clients but where they do, you want them signed up to the idea. Ideally they should want to win the award as much as you.

Explain to them how winning the award will enhance their profile as well. This will make it easier to get cooperation when it comes to putting the entry together and getting it signed off.

Awards judges have to read a lot of submissions – yours needs to stand out. So don’t simply list facts, provide a compelling narrative. Explain how your work was part of a wider initiative to improve performance, reduce costs or rationalise locations.

Provide some context - tie your project into your client’s mission or objectives. Take the reader along the timeline – from conception to implementation; from pilot to full roll out. Make it personal – add quotes and feedback from staff, customers, visitors, etc. But also provide a summary of the key features and achievements.

Many awards entries fail to score well because they don’t back up their claims. If your new helpdesk system resulted in a “major improvement in customer service” then provide the KPI or survey data that shows this.

If you achieved “significant cost savings” then quantify them or at least give the percentage reduction in costs. Include simple graphics to make the point.

Even if the submission doesn’t require images you’ll almost certainly need them should you make the shortlist or win so be prepared. Many submissions are let down by poor photography and lacklustre design.

Don’t forget to book the awards dinner and think carefully about who you invite. It might be an opportunity to recognise members of the team who seldom get accolades. Check who’s providing the entertainment just in case there are sensitivities.

You can make the most of your entry from the moment you make the shortlist. Issue a press release, publicise it internally, on your website, through social media and in newsletters. If you really want to get ahead of the game, write your winner’s press release before the event.

That way all you’ll have to do is drop in the judge’s remarks and you can enjoy the celebrations safe in the knowledge that you won’t be up at 6am trying to write sparkling copy with a hangover!

Magenta is an award writing specialist with an in-depth knowledge of the leading service and industry awards.

To download our guide to writing a winning award entry, click here. Or email Cathy Hayward on if you’d like our support and quote #MAWARDS to qualify for a 10% discount.

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