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!

Eric Kokonas Named Partner at Dittoe Public Relations

We’re pleased to announce that Eric Kokonas has been named a partner at Dittoe Public Relations. He is also Vice President of Strategy.

Eric Headshot_DPR

In his six years at Dittoe PR, Eric has secured powerful national media coverage for some of Indy’s biggest tech companies, most promising startups and other top marketing tech companies. He has earned placements in outlets such as Mashable, TechCrunch, the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and WIRED – just to name few.

Also on the long list of his accomplishments is his inclusion in the inaugural class of TechPoint’s Tech 25 in 2015.

Though he works tirelessly, Eric is no shortage of fun. He brings an abundance of wit and wisdom to the agency, providing daily leadership and an expansive knowledge of the tech media landscape. In fact, his colleagues are quick to recognize him as innovative, sarcastic and dedicated.

We are so lucky to have you on our team, Eric. Thank you for your commitment to Dittoe Public Relations and each of our clients.

Eric Kokonas Named to TechPoint’s Tech 25 Inaugural Class

Innovative. Sarcastic. Dedicated.

These are all words we would use to describe our Vice President of Strategy, Eric Kokonas. After this week, we can add award-winner to the list.

Today, Dittoe PR is pleased to announce Eric has been selected to join the inaugural class of TechPoint’s Tech 25, a prestigious designation for 25 tech builders, creators and other individuals who are critical to building organizations in the local tech community, but very seldom get the recognition they deserve.

In true Eric fashion, his initial reaction to receiving the good news was filled with humility.

“Here I am, being acknowledged for an award that I never thought I had a chance at, and you know that’s not me
trying to be modest. I honestly didn’t think I would even be considered for this. But it really means a lot to me that you guys think I’m deserving of it.”

Eric KokonasEric will be recognized for his achievement at the 16th Annual Mira Awards on May 2 and featured on TechPoint.org prior to the awards ceremony.

As an agency that loves to support one another, we couldn’t be more proud of Eric. In his six years at Dittoe PR, Eric has worked diligently to secure powerful national media coverage for some of Indy’s biggest tech companies, most promising startups and other top marketing tech companies. We can say with certainty that Eric knows the tech media landscape better than anyone and consistently lands stories for clients in Mashable, TechCrunch, the New York Times, The Wall Street Journal and WIRED – just to name few.

In fact, his fervent fan base doesn’t stop within the walls of Dittoe PR. Taulbee Jackson, CEO of Rundown and former client of Eric’s, couldn’t say enough great things about his work ethic or efforts.
“Eric – you changed the course of Raidious, made the city of Indianapolis look amazing in the national spotlight, and you’ve made better lives for all of our employees and their families – along with influencing the thinking and approach of marketers across the globe. Eric made a mark on history, and the ripple effects will continue forever,” Taulbee said.

Tech 25_2015_FacebookCongratulations, Eric! We can’t wait to cheer you on next month when you accept your award and watch you continue to help many of our state’s best and brightest tech companies achieve greatness through your tireless PR efforts. Whether you are developing a strategic PR plan, crafting targeted media pitches or cooking gourmet waffles for us, your dedication to your craft, our clients and Dittoe PR fully demonstrates why you are so deserving of this award.