The highly esteemed Bulldog Awards honor the most impressive media relations campaigns in the industry every year. To gain insight on how the Bulldog Awards are judged and what elements make an entry exemplary, we attended a webinar hosted by PR University featuring a panel of veteran judges and recipients of multiple Bulldog Awards.
First and foremost, the panel of journalists stressed how important it is to carefully review the instructions stated on the Bulldog Awards application. For example, if an entry certain length is specified, this length is not to be exceeded. The judges should be able to read the entry and gain a solid understanding of the project in five to six minutes, and less is even better. In addition to keeping the entry concise and to the point, it the panel stressed how important it is to leave out the industry jargon and to write in plain English. And as journalists, they can easily sniff out hype from reality so be straightforward in your application. Clearly, the basis of an award application is to promote the accomplishments of your work. In doing so, however, it’s important to provide the appropriate context. Make sure the reader understands the back story or struggle your organization went through to achieve the accomplished goals. In fact, the judges claimed that the back story matters just as much as the result. They want an inside look into the approach including the obstacles that arose and were overcome along the way. How did you use this challenge to your benefit? Finally, the judges want to hear the human perspective, as a story, with a beginning, middle, and end. They most appreciate entries that read like an exciting narrative, written in active language.
When it comes to results, make certain they sync up to the stated project goals. Also, when promoting press hits it’s not always essential to feature the most widely known outlet. Rather, consider the target audience and showcase the most relevant outlets for that audience even if they are smaller and not well known to the masses
Finally, the devil is in the application details and ease of review. Anticipate questions and put what you want reviewed in the body of the application. It is essential to include contact information should the judges have questions or need additional information. Also, many will be tempted to simply include web links to share press hits or other relevant information. Because these judges are looking at hundreds of entries they prefer for applicants to paste the example or information into the application. Don’t make them work harder than they already are. And last, they mentioned budget. Many applicants tend to leave out this information, but they emphasized how it provides context and is very important to judging.
The Bulldog Awards are one of several prestigious PR Industry Awards programs and the winning entry advice offered in this webinar is universal. To recap:
- Read the instructions and commit to them;
- Be concise, straightforward and avoid jargon;
- Tell a story with a beginning, middle and end and DO include the struggle and drama so judges have context and a clear picture of your accomplishments;
- The winning results are those that best fit the goals and meet the needs of the target audience; big hits are great IF they are relevant
- Attention to detail is essential, as making the entry review as easy as possible for the judges.