Professor Jim Macnamara has run a successful measurement company in Asia before becoming one of the world’s leading authorities on evaluation. He has seen it from both sides – as an awards entrant and as a judge.
In this article, Jim shares his 10 Top Tips on Writing Winning Evaluation Award Entries.
1. Read the guidelines carefully – and read them again before you start writing
It is very easy to write what you think is important and miss key requirements of the award category that you are entering. Look closely at the key words of the criteria and ensure you provide what is requested. For example, if a criterion is ‘show evidence’, you must give empirical data or other proof points – not simply explain what you did.
2. Be brief and to the point
Recognise that the judges are busy and are reading many entries. So come to the point. Put your biggest and best points up front. Grab their attention. They are human beings and they may be jaded from reading many applications. So make it easy for them by setting out your application with clear headings or sections. Use bullet points to highlight key points and reduce verbiage.
3. Be SMART
You’ve heard it many times before, but it must be reiterated. Clearly list the objectives of your campaign or project clearly near the beginning. And they must be SMART objectives – namely, specific (e.g., they should have numbers and dates such as ‘gain 10,000 registrations by 30 June 2018); measurable, achievable, relevant (to the organisation’s overall objectives) and time-bound (what is the period and deadline).
4. Report outcomes and impact, not just outputs
Don’t tell the judges about all the work you did. They don’t really care. Nor should they. They are judging results. Give only enough background to explain what your project was about why it was undertaken. Focus on outcomes and impact.
5. Give evidence
In telling the judges about the outcomes and impact of your work, give evidence. Save a long description of your campaign for your memoirs. Focus on facts. When the guidelines allow, provide attachments that contain proof such as statistics, supporting statements from independent authorities, testimonials, and extracts from research reports.
6. Think quality as well as quantity
Metrics are one important form of evidence. But show the quality of your results, not just quantity. A large volume of media publicity may not mean success. Was it positive? Did it contain your key messages? Also, outcomes and impact such as reputation, brand perceptions, and stakeholder relationships need qualitative methods of evaluation, not only quantitative.
7. Remember a picture tells a thousand words
Include visuals as far as possible, such as charts, graphs and tables – particularly ones that contain evidence such as research findings illustrating rates of increase or decrease and trends. Visuals have impact and they allow a lot of information to be conveyed succinctly.
8. Link your results back to your objectives
Show how the evidence of outcomes and impact presented in your entry link to the stated objectives to ‘close the loop’ and show that you achieved what you set out to achieve. Any old results are not sufficient; strategic communication should achieve the desired objectives.
9. Proofread carefully
It sounds basic, but proofread your entry carefully and, ideally, have another independent person proof it also. Grammatical errors and typos suggest to the judges a lack of professionalism and a lack of attention to detail, which can jeopardise an otherwise worthy entry.
10. Enter in the right category
Make sure you are entering the right category when you submit. Again, read the criteria carefully and make sure your entry meets the requirements. Then tailor your text to the criteria applying to that criteria.
The AMEC Awards recognises and celebrates the exceptional work and accomplishments in moving communications research and measurement forward
Click on this link for details of the Awards categories and details of how to enter. For questions on entry, please contact Nicola Gardiner, AMEC event manager at firstname.lastname@example.org.
NOTE THE DATES!
EarlyBird deadline for entries is 14 February with 28 February as the final entry deadline. The awards ceremony will be held at a dinner on 14 June 2018, during the AMEC Global Summit in Barcelona.
Jim Macnamara PhD, is Professor of Public Communication at the University of Technology Sydney and a Visiting Professor at London School of Economics and Political Science. He is internationally recognised for his research into evaluation of public communication and for his work on organisational listening.