“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!

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