Agency Awards – the DESIRE to win

how to win more awards

What a fantastic evening we had at the Prolific North Awards in Manchester last week.  Congratulations once again to all the winners and, indeed, all the nominated finalists!

As a member of this year’s judging panel, I was blown away by the quality of the work and agencies on show.  I was also surprised, and OK I’ll admit it, at one point slightly worried, about the amount of work that goes into judging the award submissions. The judges really do put the work in!

I’d like to share some observations I made judging these awards. I’m sure none of these are specific to the Prolific North Awards alone, and all could be useful for any agencies entering any awards in the future.

Entering awards is an art form, and I now realise why a number of consultancy practices designed to help businesses with awards have been created in recent years.  N.B. Whilst Beyond Noise doesn’t offer this particular service, I do know a very good award consultant if anybody would like a referral.

Gareth Healey
Prolific North Awards SEO Agency of the Year - Candid Sky

If you have a great campaign/agency with some great results, you’re more than half way to winning any award you enter.  The other half of the equation is the award submission itself.  Sadly this is often where agencies often fall short.

Unfortunately, I know from experience that potentially award-winning campaigns/agencies have not been successful by falling at the last and most important hurdle; the entry form.

Some people may think the award submission is not that important and just a formality.  Others might leave it until the last minute and get a junior team member to ”coordinate” pulling it together. Either way this means the chances of winning the award are drastically reduced.

Why?  Very simply the answer is “time”.  As much as judges want to give every entry full consideration, when faced with so many, even a great campaign can easily be passed over if it is not supported by a great entry.

Indeed, rather than call them “entries”, our industry might respond better to the label of “written pitch”, because that is exactly what they are. The judge actually has two tasks at hand; firstly to try and understand what the campaign/agency is about, before then going on to decide exactly where it ranks amongst the other entries they also need to review.

I thought it was noticeable judging this years Prolific North Awards, that the quality of the award submissions from agencies involved in B2B marketing was of a consistently high standard. Perhaps a coincidence, but maybe a demonstration that B2B agencies are more experienced in communicating with business audiences. They certainly have experience in getting across complex issues in a simple and straightforward way.

Either way, its clear to me that whatever your reason for entering awards, you must have the desire to win, not to just enter.  Which means that  you have more work to do than just fill out an entry form and book your table.
Gareth Healey
Prolific North Awards B2C PR Campaign of the Year - Smoking Gun & Childs Farm

So how do you show you have the desire to win? Here’s my top 6 tips for agencies to think about when entering awards, handily constructed as a D-E-S-I-R-E acronym (well, sort of!)

DEMONSTRATE clear objectives. If you can’t clearly outline measurable objectives then consider whether it is right to enter this award. It’s the first thing judges will look for and evaluate you on.

ENTER the right award. Sounds obvious, but it can be tempting to enter the category you want to win, not the most appropriate category and one that you CAN win. If your entry doesn’t really fit within the category you select, it will be plainly obvious to the judges when assessing your entry against the competition.

SUMMARISE the strategy and output clearly and concisely. Don’t make the judges try and piece things together. They might want to, but they won’t have time. It might mean your entry doesn’t get the recognition it deserves.

INCLUDE additional information (if you are allowed). However, remember to keep it brief, easy to follow and impactful. A short video is better than 4 or 5 pages of copy of still images.

RESULTS and the return on investment achieved are critical (not optional) and must exceed the objectives. Indeed, like the objectives themselves, if you cannot clearly demonstrate the results and ROI, consider whether you should be entering at all.

EVERY award is a pitch. Its an opportunity to sell your work and agency.  Just because you can’t stand in front of people with a slide deck, doesn’t mean the award submission doesn’t need to “sell”. Indeed, it means it needs to work even harder. If given the opportunity to explain “why you should win”, do just that. Pitch your entry to the judges (don’t just write a sentence or two or add a client quote).


In summary, the winner is not always the agency with the best campaign.  The winner is the agency with a great campaign, backed by clear objectives and  clear measurable results. The agency who is prepared to put some real effort into their award submission and show they have the DESIRE to create an award pitch that will do justice to the work they have produced for their client(s).

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