We’ve put together our top tips for lawyers and law firms on how to write winning award submissions in 2021, and how to manage the submissions process. Whether you are already an award winning lawyer, or work for an award winning firm; or even if this is your first attempt at entering an award; our advice will help.
1. Consider what you are trying to achieve
When you are considering entering an award, it’s always sensible to stop and ask ‘why’? This will help you to understand which ones to bother with and which to avoid.
If you think that awards will help with new business for example – think about whether your target audiences will recognise or be impressed if you win the award in question. Will they care? Or actually, do you take the view that the award win will fit seamlessly into your marketing plan and act as a kitemark and something to talk about on social media and in your newsletter.
Neither of these answers are ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ – they are simply considerations to help ensure that you are entering an award for the right reasons and that the action supports and fits into your firm’s overall marketing strategy.
2. Research the award
This sounds obvious but not everybody does it. Check out the specific criteria and be honest about whether you meet them. You will need to be able to demonstrate that you fulfil at least 80% of what is required, otherwise you’re unlikely to be shortlisted.
You should also check out the awards’ reputation and how they they are judged. Some awards are simply money making racquets where you pay for a ‘win’ or a place in a Top Ten list or similar. These awards are not credible and our advice would be to avoid them like the plague.
Others – like The Law Society’s Excellence Awards are managed and organised by a professional body and are judged fairly and effectively by a panel of independent judges. They are hard to win, and rightly so. (We have written award winning submissions for these Awards and they take time, effort and a strong performance by the firm making the submission).
3. Look at the previous winners
Are you in the same league? Can you find out anything about their submissions, and if so – can your submission compare? It’s simply a waste of time putting together a submission if it’s clear from the outset that you won’t be shortlisted.
4. Draft the best possible submission
First of all, take a detailed look at the criteria. You can normally quite easily pick out the key elements the judges are looking for. One of the easiest and most effective approaches is to print the criteria and then highlight what is required. Then put these into bullet points and write down your own bullet points that evidence or demonstrate where your achievements meet each requirement.
Further, treat the submission as a story. Take the judges on a journey and remember to back up statements with facts and evidence. Follow the sequence of your initial list of bullets, so that the judges can literally place a tick next to each of the criteria. If you do this, you’ll make it much easier for the judges to give a high score, and hopefully get your submission on to the top of the pile.
5. Check out the evidential requirements
Make sure you have a detailed understanding of what is required to accompany any written submission. Some awards require video or other evidence so it is important to know and understand what exactly you’ll need to put together from the offset.
Trying to pull together evidence at the 12th hour is not only stressful, but is also unlikely to put you in the best light. Rushed evidence is also unlikely to get you shortlisted.
6. Diarise and stick to the deadline
This shouldn’t even be a tip as it’s so very clearly an obvious point. From experience though we know that deadlines can slip. Diarise and double-diarise. Give yourself the time and space to write the best submission you can.
7. Check and check again
Once the submission is written, check it, run a spelling and grammar check and get somebody else to read it. Poor spelling and inaccurate grammar is never a good look.
8. Pull together an awards calendar
It makes sense to know how many awards there are that could be relevant to, your team or your firm, and start to keep a track of them. A calendar will help you to plan your ‘awards year’ and also to record your shortlistings, wins and any other observations you have of each relevant set of awards.
Many of the regional law societies run their own awards, as do the majority of the legal trade magazines and publishers, and a number of sector specific organisations such as STEP. Regional Chambers of Commerce and other business and networking organisations also tend to run awards.
We produce an awards calendar – drop us a line and we’ll send it to you. You can access this by emailing us email@example.com.
9. Outsource to experts
If you are a busy marketing team or if you don’t have a marketing function, it can be a better use of your time to concentrate on either the marketing elements of your role that can’t easily be outsourced; or on fee earning or quite simply running your law firm.
Outsourcing your award submissions frees up your time, but also using an expert means you are more likely to a) understand your prospects and b) get to the shortlist.
You can now book an ‘Ask an Expert’ slot to discuss any awards queries you have with a member of the LexRex team. You can book your free place here. Spaces are limited to 3 per month.
10. Plan your winning strategy
It’s all very well following the above top tips – but what if you win? Remember to think about how you can maximise your opportunities to shout about your award win. At the very least consider:
- Sharing your award win on social media in real time
- Creating and issuing a press release to announce the win
- Getting a statement on your website
- Creating a micro-campaign for your social media channels to run across the following days, weeks and months
- Including the win in any client and referrer focussed newsletters or other marketing activities
- Photography – sort out some lovely images that you can use, repurpose and brand up into assets to support all of the above activities
- All marketing assets and contact points – getting the logo onto your website, email footer, Notes to Editors, voicemail, windows etc. The opportunities are almost endless
- How best to display any physical award plaque or trophy
- Including the win in tenders and new business pitches
- Creating a video talking about the win for your social channels
To book your Ask An Expert slot to discuss any queries you have about anything awards related – book your slot today. Remember we are only offering 3 places each month.