Let the Bells Ring: Top 10 Ways to Win a Bell Ringer Award

On February 6, the Publicity Club of New England hosted a free webinar for participants in the Bell Ringer awards. Hosted by Julie Dennehy, principal of Dennehy PR, and Karen Reynolds, regional manager for Business Wire, the webinar focused on both the judging process and tips for successful entries.

Dennehy, a long-time judge and Pub Club past-president, shared a list of top 10 ways to improve a Bell Ringer entry:

#10: Typos and grammar mistackes, you have no plac here. Every single entry should be proofread by a team member. Try to recruit a team member or colleague who did not work on the campaign. Read it through one more time before you submit electronically, because there’s no going back…

#9: Industry lingo just makes judges uncomfortable. Remember the judges may not work in your client’s industry, so be aware of lingo, acronyms, flowery language, and assumptions about what is “great” vs. “typical” in the industry. Scan your entry and replace words like ping, silo, paradigm, pipeline, bandwidth and and anything to do with boxes or buckets.

#8: Objectives must match results. Avoid vague or misleading language in your objectives like “generate awareness” or, worse, “raise the bar”.  Quantify whenever possible, then make sure you can back up your results.

#7: Layout and design: digitizing submissions has made entry submissions easier, but the thump of clips hitting the virtual table still wows the judges (via a really well produced PDF we can open on our home computers). Don’t forget to back up your statements (particularly key results) with attachments. Highlighting the client’s name within the article (possible on a PDF) or any other key messages is really helpful to the judges to make the reading go faster and more efficiently. Making sure your report and clips, even digitized, are pleasing to the eye is important and contributes to the professionalism of the entry.

#6: Bullet point as much as possible. Be as brief as you can. Enough said.

#5: Think like a judge/don’t bury the lead. Say why you think this is an award-winning campaign, and say it up front AND at the end. Tell us briefly why this stands out in our field as well as in the industry. Help us help you.

#4: Read the directions very carefully. Submit by the deadline. Don’t wait until the last minute to enter… plan out your entry submission the way you would plan for a client. The agencies who win the most awards certainly have a process, and handle this task at the same level as any other client activity. Don’t shortchange yourself, or your client for whom you are entering.

#3: Is this #BellWorthy? Identify a clear objective for each submission. Carry it through with purpose and the win will be that much sweeter… and don’t forget to market your win through publicity, email footer announcement, email blast to clients/friends, letter to clients, party for winning team. Treat your win like you’d treat a client win.

#2: Don’t leave the mandatory entry narrative until the last minute. Give yourself time to think, edit, and strategize. Give yourself at least a few weeks to chase down results, client testimonials (they DO make a difference), and acquire and digitize any print/broadcast clips, or photos.

#1: Prove it.
  As you prepare your entry, assume the judges do not know you, your client, or their industry. We don’t know if they are truly “industry leaders” or have achieved what you said they would. Include testimonials, evaluation and quantifiable results that directly match each stated objective. Apples to apples, great campaigns become winning campaigns when they are backed up with informal or formal research/evaluation and quantifiable proof of success.

The deadline for Bell Ringer submissions at Early Bird Rates is Friday, February 15, 2013.  The regular deadline is Friday, March 15, 2013, and the late deadline (with late fee) is Friday, March 22, 2013 at 5 p.m.

By Julie Dennehy, Dennehy PR, and Karen Reynolds, Business Wire

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