CONNECTIONS

An Edelman perspective on making meaningful
employee connections that deepen engagement,
build trust and accelerate business performance.

DECEMBER 2014

FIVE STEPS TO WINNING AN INDUSTRY AWARD
BY KELLEY FITZGIBBONS, SENIOR ACCOUNT EXECU TIVE, EMPLOYEE ENGAG EMENT

Your team put in the work, wrapped up the project
and received kudos from the CE0. So now what?
After weeks or months of living and breathing a
program, it is important to step back and reflect on
your work, your results and what you learned. A good
way to do this – and simultaneously recognize your
team’s successes – is to submit your work for
communication industry awards.
Beyond the recognition, there’s another benefit to
entering award programs: doing so can set the stage
for even greater achievements in the future. When the team knows they will nominate a
program for recognition once it’s complete, they are more likely to design a plan with a
results orientation from the outset.
As you’re creating this strong foundation, here are five steps to pursuing industry honors:
1.

CREATE A CALENDAR.

From Silver Anvils to Gold Quills, there are numerous communication awards programs,
each with their own submission deadlines and criteria. To help you decide which of the many
options to pursue, start by developing a calendar of programs, associated timelines,
categories and costs. Research which awards best fit your work and that you have a solid
shot at winning – and be sure to research past winning entries. For example, some
programs, such as the Melcrum Awards, are most appropriate for efforts focused exclusively
on internal communications and employee engagement, while the PRWeek Global Awards
are an option for international, multi-stakeholder undertakings.
Once you’ve got a good list of possibilities, prioritize which awards to pursue. Socialize this
with colleagues to avoid unintentionally pitting your team against others from elsewhere in
the organization. Then, appoint someone to create and manage a project plan for each
submission and pay close attention to upcoming deadlines.

2.

TELL A GREAT STORY.

A strong submission tells a story about the program, explaining why it was undertaken, how
it was developed and executed and what happened as a result. It is helpful to first do a team
“data dump” to surface all materials, plans and outcomes from the project. Then, start
refining a narrative and pulling out the strongest nuggets to support it. The good news is that
once you put in this work for one submission, your core narrative can be repurposed for
other awards.
3.

ALLOW MORE TIME FOR REVIEWS THAN YOU THI NK YOU NEED.

Be sure to factor in ample time for review by your stakeholders, who are likely focused on
other priorities and may need multiple gentle nudges to share input. Build in time for a
colleague who did not work on the program to provide a fresh perspective. Ask them to
specifically look for: points that are unclear to outsiders; company-specific phrases or
acronyms to clarify for third-party audiences; the degree to which results are aligned with
objectives; and any areas where they started skimming the content - and pare down
accordingly. Judges must sift through numerous entries, so the clearer and more concise
you can be, the better. Finally, do a thorough check to make sure your submission meets
entry requirements. Some programs have strict parameters for word count and formatting,
which can result in disqualification if not followed.
4.

FOCUS ON MEANINGFUL METRICS.

This is intuitive, but tangible, quantifiable results can be hard to nail down for
communication programs. Participation and usage figures are a start, such as the
percentage of managers using a communications toolkit or the number of people who
referenced your program’s hashtag. Better still is pointing to shifts in behavior, such as
increasing the percentage of plant workers who follow safety procedures after an awareness
campaign.
Revisit the goals you set before your project kicked off. Compare data – such as survey
scores on awareness, attitude and action – gathered after the program ended with
benchmarks set before it began. Use the difference between past and present to quantify
the changes the program created. Even if you have 15 remarkable metrics, pick those that
best fit the context of the entry and support the overall story you are telling. Avoid citing a
metric simply for the sake of a good number, and show how it achieved your objectives.

5.

GET CREATIVE WITH SU PPLEMENTAL MATERIALS .

While the written narrative forms the foundation of your submission, bring your story to life
with supplemental materials. Perhaps you could illustrate your program’s success visually
with an infographic, a PowerPoint-based animation with voiceover narration, or – the cherry
on top with enough time and budget – a 90-second video case study with stakeholder
testimonials. Keep in mind that you might also repurpose such content for your internal
communication channels or share with leadership.
There is no secret formula that guarantees an award, but a thoughtful approach to planning,
storytelling and metrics can take you one step closer to the winner’s circle.
ABOUT US
Edelman Employee Engagement helps organizations accelerate business performance,
delivered by highly engaged and trusted employees. We do this by making meaningful, trustbuilding connections — connecting employees with the company, connecting employees with
each other, and connecting employees with the outside world. We have a global network of
employee engagement specialists who can develop engagement strategy; deploy the tools
and processes to deliver it; create the multimedia channels and content that support it; and
design the insight mechanisms to measure it. For more information, visit us
at ee.edelman.com or follow us on Twitter at @EdelmanEE.