What do a pig, a Tokyo townhouse and a kidnap plot have in common?
It may sound like the opening line of some obscure joke but for the last few weeks I’ve been living and breathing these three concepts whilst completing three entries for the Queen’s Award for Enterprise, the world’s most prestigious business award.
I can’t deny it’s been a hard slog and a huge relief to get the entries in, working in my role as a senior consultant for awards specialists Awards Intelligence. But it is always fascinating to get to know the inner workings of successful companies (one client this year had turnover of £75m) and be trusted to write the entry that will give their business the best possible chance of winning.
What makes this award submission so difficult?
The variety of the businesses involved (this year I submitted entries for a rural sustainability company, an architect and a security firm) demands in-depth research and versatility on my part.
Each submission is around 7,000 words, which may sound generous enough but when you discover the sheer amount of information that the judges require you soon realise why it’s so difficult to compile the entry.
There are very strict word counts for each section. If the maximum allowed to describe a company’s world-leading innovation is 500 you can’t go a word over.
And the entry needs to shine. My job is to tell a story and keep the judges agog from beginning to end.
It’s vital to get it right first time. If you miss deadline, you can’t enter for another year – by which time turnover might have dipped, rendering the company ineligible.
How can you / your company learn from this?
Most companies only get one stab at the Queen’s Awards. Every word counts which is why they invest in experts to create the best submission they can. Not every company has the budget or scope to enter awards at this level but that doesn’t mean they can’t learn from the Awards Intelligence approach to award entries.
Here are my award writing tips to make your entry compelling, and they apply as much to everyday copy for your website or brochure as they do awards.
1 You need strong financials and you need to extract every last boast from them e.g. increase in turnover and profit over the last year, over the last five years, compared to competitors, exceeding forecasts. Think of ways to dice the figures to illustrate in multiple ways how successful the company is.
2 The human element is vital – use human examples throughout: rather than a dry “training course”, talk about what people learn with colourful anecdotes.
3 Add context to show why what they have achieved is important e.g. growing kidnap threats in a climate of terror; crisis in UK farming as incomes plummet.
4 Use lots of testimonials to tell how the company has made life better, use emotive language and explain the impact made.
If this has inspired you and you are thinking about entering your company into the Queen’s Awards – here a bit of background:
The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise are the world’s most prestigious business awards, carrying the imprimatur of the Queen, given only to companies or individuals who are outstanding in their field. Winning and putting the logo on products brings the winners prestige, increased reputation and of course improved sales.
The awards take place annually and are announced to coincide with the Queen’s birthday. In 2015 the success rate in the Innovation and Sustainable Development categories was 1 in 10 (the competition is that tough), but I managed a 100% success rate with 5 entries.
Fingers crossed for the announcement of the winners in April 2016, when my work over last few weeks should reap rewards.