How to make an award entry stand out

We’re often asked by clients about the value of awards and if winning still really matters. There are lots of cyber security awards to enter which can demand a considerable investment in time and resources, so are they still a worthwhile way to boost brand profile or to stand out from competitors?

As a platform to showcase excellence in cyber security to your customers, investors, partners and future employees, there’s little to rival the kudos of an award win. Whether it’s for outstanding project work for a customer or an innovation in a new technology, an awards win is independent recognition of your achievements.

But the value of awards goes beyond this and even the process of putting an entry together can bring something of real value to your company. It gives you the opportunity to work with different teams to build your submission, to understand more about your partners and customers by gathering testimonials, and you’ll collect facts and figures that could be used to inform future product development, marketing or channel strategy.

There are, of course, some pitfalls to avoid. To help you build a stand-out entry, we’ve distilled some of the key tips shared on-line, and via recent webinars, on what the judges are looking for when whittling down hundreds of entries.

Read the awards criteria

This is a bit like the advice we all had at school about reading the exam question, which holds true for any awards submission. First and foremost, check that your entry fits the criteria and carefully read the questions. The advice from one judge discussing the recent Computing Awards was also to treat this like a job application so you need to impress upon the judges why you’re the right ‘candidate’ for this specific award.

Avoid the marketing hyperbole

This is a common theme across award entries and most guides will stress that you cut out any phrases laced with the dreaded ‘marketing fluff’. Make sure the copy is original and tailored for each award entry. Be sparing with words and keep the submission crisp, clear and non-generic. Judges are primed to spot anything that is obviously a ‘copy and paste’ from a marketing brochure.

Back up your claims

One of the basic rules of thumb is that you need to back up your assertions with hard evidence. To even be considered for the shortlist for the key awards, customer testimonials, facts and metrics are an absolute must-have. It’s not enough to describe why the project or product is amazing, you need to have third-party endorsements and facts to substantiate your descriptions. If you’re putting the case forward that your team goes ‘above and beyond’ provide some concrete examples of why, and how, they did this to add some colour and credence.

Inject your award entry with personality

If you’re writing about a company, project or a team, it should truly reflect what stands out about them; the culture and personality should shine through on the page. This is where it’s particularly helpful to put yourself in the position of the judges tasked with reading hundreds of entries and ask what would make our entry stand out? Is it anodyne and a bit ‘safe’ or have we done justice to our work and offered some examples of our creativity, innovation and the business impact that will rise above the competition?

Creative presentation

Increasingly, awards are actively encouraging submissions which include videos or graphics to support the written entry. You’ll need to check the guidelines for any awards entry carefully but, if the rules allow, look for ways to deliver your submission that will communicate your message more creatively than a standard written entry, alone.

Keep it real

One of the most telling tips for awards entries this year has been for submissions to reflect how the COVID crisis has impacted businesses. Perhaps there are some examples of how your company has shown real innovation and creative thinking to support your customers during the crisis? Think about how you, and your team, have stepped up to the many challenges this crisis has brought.

Be selective

An awards submission takes time. We’d advise you to carefully research the awards that matter most for your company, that are respected, credible and sought-after and then make a balanced judgement that you can deliver something that will impress the judges. Avoid the ‘vanity’ awards which ask for a fee in return for inclusion in their ‘exclusive’ brochure. To help you, we’ve put together a list of the Top 10 Industry Awards that we think are well worth considering.

Start your preparation for these as far in advance as possible so that you have enough time to pull together the best examples and evidence of your company and its achievements.

And finally, go for it, and good luck!

If you would like more information about entering awards, please contact info@eclat.co.uk

Author

Winning a cyber security award is amazing

Cyber Beat podcast episode 13 – Aligning your PR and marketing with your cyber security channel

Five more top tips for powerful cyber security PR and marketing research