Go for gold – how to write award applications

We’ve written and polished lots of award applications for clients over the years – we know what works. Here’s our top tips for writing an application that stands out.

Writing an award-winning application in 10 steps

  1. READ AND DON’T RUSH. Read the whole application form before you start writing. What do they say about the category and the criteria? Note the adjectives and language they use. Think about your angle. Make sure you answer the questions they are asking.
  2. LOOK BACK. Look up past winners and see what approach they took to the award. Look through your own testimonials and reviews for examples you can use. You might get inspired!
  3. TELL A STORY. An interesting award submission connects dots to tell a bigger story. Maybe you have a unique take on what the award means. Has something amazing happened or have you overcome a challenge? Create an ongoing story that shows up throughout your answers.
  4. DRAFT OFFLINE. Accidently hitting the submit button is all too easy. Draft in Word or Google Docs: you’ll have access to proper proofing tools and you can share it for feedback before you send.
  5. DON’T BE A ROBOT: AI-powered language tools (like ChatGTP) are good at some things. Writing text people remember isn’t one of them. Use tools for brainstorming or rephrasing, but never ask them to write anything important from scratch.
  6. BE YOURSELF. Stuffy business writing is deathly dull reading. Find it tricky to write as you speak? Try dictating your answers into speech-to-text to see how you would say it in person. Don’t get too formal – let your enthusiasm for what you do shine though.
  7. BACK IT UP. Support your award story with quotes, examples and stats. Personalise it with a human story or make it specific with a number. Meatloaf once said 96% of people would read anything for love. (Yep, this is a complete lie but it’s fun to read, right?)
  8. LET IT SIT. Re-read it the next day or the next week. You will spot errors and come up with some better ideas.
  9. WATCH THE WORDCOUNT. Get to the point fast and use bullet points if you need to. Online editors like Hemingway can help you to turn waffle into snappy reading. Keep things short.
  10. GET IT PROOFREAD. Hire a professional, ask your co-worker, bribe a family member with tea and biscuits, do what you have to – just make sure someone else has checked the details before you hit send. Spelling or grammatical mistakes look sloppy and distract from your story.

Now you’ve written your application and sent it off, what comes next?

Keep a copy – using and reusing award applications

Don’t hit submit and discover it’s gone into the void. Hang on to that good stuff!

It might be two days, it might be two years but I can guarantee at some point you will say “I wish we had a copy of what we said”. Past applications handy for everything from end-of-year reports to project tenders to media interviews to your “About Us” webpage.

If you’ve always wanted to put your business forward for an award, but been intimidated by the application process, consider this your wake-up call.

Win or lose, awards’ nights are a fantastic opportunity to take stock of the incredible things you’ve done and showcase them for the recognition they deserve. The Awards nights are a low-cost high-visibility way to network and elevate your business – and also often a lot of fun to attend!

Award-winning Irish website writing

Here’s an example of how well this method works: Red Rock Writing took recently home the award for best small business website at the Cork Digital Marketing Awards. 🥳

Thanks to putting ourselves out there we had a wonderful night, sharing stories and ideas with some of Cork’s best businesses. Our sincere thanks to Cork Chamber, who created and organised the awards, and to digital design experts, Spéire, who sponsored and judged our category.

You can see how well getting your application in works out so give it a go – you have nothing to lose, and everything to gain.