Four Tips for Writing Award Nominations That Win

“And the award goes to…”

This phrase has been engraved in my mind since I was a kid and first watched the Academy Awards. I dreamt about being a movie star someday, or even a singer, and receiving what I thought was the highest recognition anyone could ever receive. However, here I am, 20-some years later, working in public relations and writing this blog post about those dreams.

While I may never win an Oscar or a Grammy, I do get to help craft meaningful award submissions on behalf of my clients. In fact, I typically draft at least one award nomination each month. Crafting award submissions is a fun and creative way to break from our typical routine of media pitching and can sometimes create just as much value as a media hit. Awards help businesses or individuals build their street cred. It’s one thing to say you’re the best in XYZ, but it’s another to have an award showing that others also believe you’re the best.

Every award win is ultimately up to the judges, but below I’ve outlined some best practices when drafting submissions on behalf of clients.

Do your research.
How many times have you heard us say that before? But with award opportunities, this is insanely important. We typically begin research for the following year in the fall and continue researching opportunities throughout the next year. During this phase, you will need to think big, sometimes small, and always outside of the box.


Things to include in the calendar:

  • First, check and see if your client has already received awards in the past. Doing this first is a great starting point and can potentially help you start an initial list of new opportunities.
  • You should also research what awards their competitors have won in recent years. Seeing this list can help you realize an additional area of awards you might have never thought of applying to.
  • Additionally, use key words during the research phase. If your client is a retailer, use search terms like “retailer awards” or “best places to shop awards.”
  • Lastly, ask if there are any awards your client wants to apply to. They know their industry the best and there might be one they’ve had on their mind for a while. 


Create a calendar.
Once you’ve completed the initial researching phase, you should then move into creating a content calendar. Having a calendar can ultimately be your saving grace when it comes to organizing all upcoming opportunities. Typically, we’ll create an internal calendar for our team to reference throughout the year. We’ll put all of our initial opportunities in the calendar and then organize from there. If it’s helpful, you can always share this calendar with a client via Google sheets.

A quick glance of what that calendar can look like is below: 

Things to include in the calendar:

  • Month
  • Opportunity name
  • Cost
  • Submission deadline
  • Status
  • Other helpful columns you could include: Who’s handling (you vs. client, you vs. another team member), “about” section, link to receipt and more


Outline all details.
Now that you’ve done your research and created a content calendar, next it’s time to outline the award details for your client. Every client is different, which means there will be a different process for each one. Find out which process they prefer to establish a proper protocol moving forward. Different processes include sending all opportunities via email once a month, sending individual opportunities via email as they arise, share a Google sheet that will notify every time a new opportunity is added, and more.

Things you could include in your outline:

  • Name of opportunity (linked to website)
  • Deadline
  • Cost
  • About the award
  • Anything you might need in order to complete a submission (additional information, supporting materials, etc.)


Create a draft before submitting.
Now it’s time for the fun part – create a draft version of the entire submission! I’d recommend doing this whether you’re drafting a nomination for your client or even yourself. Most applications allow you to view all questions and criteria before submitting, which is a great practice to have when drafting a submission. Creating a draft allows you to create comments or variations of the nomination before you send it to your client for approval. This also limits the back-and-forth questions you might have while working on the nomination in real-time.

Once you have all the questions from the award included in the draft, it’s time to actually start drafting the content. Over time, submitting award nominations for a client can get easier and quicker if they have preapproved messaging. In the meantime, get creative to see what type of messaging sticks with the judges and which submissions lead you to award-wins.

After the draft has been approved, it’s easy peasy from there on out. You can take the approved messaging and paste it into the online submission and voila! Make sure to always forward on the submission and/or payment confirmation to your client as well.

We can’t promise any Oscars nominations, but we can secure some award wins for you. Think your business or organization could use help with drafting submissions? Or need help in other areas, too? Check out our services page or reach out to Lauryn Gray (lauryn@dittoepr.com) for more information!

Public Relations vs. Marketing – What’s the Difference?

There are a lot of blurred lines when it comes to public relations and marketing. They intertwine so seamlessly that it can be easy to mistake one for the other. Often times when I tell others I work in PR, they’ll usually respond with something along the lines of “oh, so like, you do marketing?” This is usually when I take a deep breath and go into a “well…” explanation.

 

When I was first deciding on what career path I wanted to take in college, all I knew was that I would have to end up taking business classes if I wanted to major in marketing. Which meant math. *Gulps.*  I ultimately chose the public relations route, which I quickly realized was actually pretty similar to marketing. So, what exactly is the difference between PR and marketing? While both industries use similar methods and tactics to achieve results, they ultimately have separate end goals. Let’s take a look.

 

DEFINITIONS

  • Public Relations: PRSA defines public relations as a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics. PRSA goes further on to say that PR is about influencing, engaging and building a relationship with key stakeholders across countless platforms in order to shape and frame the public perception of an organization. At Dittoe PR, we pride ourselves on our proven successes with media relations (i.e. Columbus, Aardvark Straws, Western Golf Association, Stericycle Environmental Solutions and more). Not only do we focus on building relationships with media, but we help build the reputation of our clients’ brands, too.

 

  • Marketing: On the flip side, marketing is the action of promoting and selling products or services, including market research and advertising. It’s the process of teaching consumers why they should choose your product or service over those of your competitors.

 

GOALS

  • Public Relations: The goal of PR is to help create awareness and trust for a business or brand. As PR professionals, it’s our job to communicate with various audiences to help generate overall awareness and make others believe in the brand. Building this foundation can help a business build brand recognition within audiences and stand out against its competitors. Our goal is to create a trusted relationship with all of our audiences.

 

  • Marketing: The goal of marketing to create a demand for products or services. Marketers help generate demand in audiences by triggering a response and then directing individuals to a product (or service). A marketer’s goal is to eventually create an interested buyer.

 

TACTICS

  • Public Relations: This is often where the lines get blurred. PR and marketing use very similar tactics and methods for different end results. PR professionals rely on media relations efforts to create relationships with media members. Building these relationships can help to create awareness of a business, brand and/or product. We often used earned media efforts, meaning we don’t pay for a mentions or spotlight features; instead, media members will write a story or mention you in a roundup piece, often times solely because a relationship has already been built.

 

  • Marketing: Marketers often used paid media efforts to achieve their goals. Again, this is where things can start to intertwine, because many marketers will end up using tactics PR professionals use with media. It’s just as important to create meaningful relationships with media members. However, marketers will spend advertising dollars to generate overall demand in a product or service.

 

Bottom line: PR uses media to create awareness; marketing uses media to generate demand.

 

Ultimately, when used together, PR and marketing are a force to be reckoned with. When used properly, PR and marketing can encourage people to tell each other about a new restaurant, trust that the restaurant has good food, visit the restaurant and finally buy a meal.

 

Think your business or organization could benefit from public relations? Or interested in hearing more about our full list of services? Contact Lauryn Gray at lauryn@dittoepr.com today.

How to Stand Out During Your Internship

What brings you joy?

 

Ever since binge-watching Tidying Up with Marie Kondo on Netflix at the beginning of the year, I’ve been asking myself that question in every aspect of my life. Before Marie Kondo, I actually already used this phrase with my friends somewhat jokingly when approached with a question: “Vanessa, should I buy these new shoes?” “Well, will it bring you joy?” But now, it’s taken on a whole new meaning.

 

Digression aside, one of the things that brings me the most joy in life is Dittoe PR’s internship program. As a former Dittoe PR intern myself, I remember how incredibly amazing my own experience was. While there were several perks to the internship, what made it truly impactful was the real-life agency experience I gained while still being a college student. This group of strangers brought me onto their team and almost instantly trusted me to help handle their day-to-day tasks – were they crazy? I’m not sure. But now, a few years later, I help lead our internship program and these strangers have become my work family (and yes, I can confirm they are a little crazy).

 

Every semester, it’s my goal to make sure our interns have the same experience I was afforded as a DPR intern. While we’re known for holding our interns to a high caliber, we believe this will help you in the long run. Our interns walk away feeling like they’ve gained the tools and lessons they need to become a PR professional. In fact, many of our current staff members started at Dittoe PR as interns. So, what is it that we look for in an intern? And what can you do to become a stand-out intern? Below I’ve scrounged up some tips and tricks I think will help any student stand out from the crowd, at a PR internship or elsewhere.

 

Take all the notes and ask all the questions.

This is probably the biggest piece of advice I can give all interns. Especially in PR, it’s imperative to take notes. Come to every meeting with a pen and paper and be prepared to write everything down. This shows that you’re not only prepared, but attentive, too. We also love when interns ask questions – we want to make sure you have a good understanding of each task at hand. And don’t be afraid to ask the daring questions, like “what if we did it this way?” or “have you thought of it this way before?” Questions like that will surely knock our socks off.

 

Treat this like a real job.

We hope you see this opportunity as more than just another college credit hour or another entry on your resume. Treat this internship like a real job because, well, that’s what it is. A real job. We give our interns real projects with real deadlines with real expectations. Forget the fluff projects you’ve had at other internships – at Dittoe PR, each intern is plugged into a dedicated account so you can see the ins and outs of how an account team works. Our goal is for you to walk away feeling like you have worked in a true agency setting.

 

Own your mistakes and grow from them.

We all make mistakes – from interns to senior account managers, it’s going to happen. The best thing you can do is to own that mistake and grow from it. Instead of dwelling on what happened and having it affect your confidence, look at each mistake as a learning opportunity. We don’t expect you to get everything right the first time, but we do hope to see you improve little by little over the course of your internship.

 

Maintain a “first-day” attitude.

I have to admit, I didn’t come up with this point on my own, but this one has really stuck with me. We all want to make a great initial impression – we usually do this by dressing professionally, taking notes, arriving early, participating in extra activities, etc. But don’t let complacency get in the way. While we’re a pretty laid-back bunch, remember to stay professional throughout your internship. Just because you start to feel comfortable doesn’t mean you can start to slack off in other areas. Treat every day like it’s your first day.

 

Ask for feedback.

The only way you can grow is if you ask for feedback. While we try to give feedback on projects in real-time, we often get bogged down and can let this crucial step fall to the side. But by taking this extra step and asking us for feedback shows that you care and that you want to improve. I can guarantee if you ask someone for feedback, you’ll receive it.

 

Integrate yourself with the team.

We truly see our interns as an extension of our team and not just interns. We love when interns join us during activities outside the office – lunches, book clubs, house warmings, etc. This allows our team to get to know you on a more personal level and help build deeper connections. It also shows that you want to be a part of our team. It doesn’t go unnoticed, and it’s a small act that can go a long way.

 

Think you have what it takes to be a DPR intern? We’re now accepting applications for our 2019 summer internship program through Feb. 15. To apply, send your cover letter, resume with references and three diverse writing samples to Vanessa Staublin at vanessa [at] dittoepr.com.