Winning at the Bells

5 Insider Tips for Bell Ringer Success

By Amy Shanler, VP of Awards

We’ve all been there… we’ve submitted for awards in the past and wondered, “Hey, why did THAT win, when my campaign was just as good?”

It can feel like award judging is shrouded in mystery. As a former judge and now overseer of the Bell Ringer Awards, I can let you in on how the judges evaluate your submission. Here are five tips, over and above our submission guidelines, you can use to help make sure your entry stands out and earns the accolades it deserves. Good luck, and we’ll see you on June 13 at the State Room to celebrate your successes.

  1. Tell us a story. This year, we’ve loosened the reins a bit and you are no longer constrained by five text boxes. No need to be so formulaic. Open with an anecdote or a quote, or even an insight you uncovered – tell us a story, as long as it covers the main components of the entry narrative. Since we’ve opened up the canvas, paint us a really clear, detailed and engaging picture.
  2. Set the stage. Many situations only focus on the brand/client. However, your campaign in a vacuum doesn’t mean anything. Tell us about the industry and competitive landscape, and then how your campaign will set you apart. This context is important in showing how big of a ripple your work caused, which puts even more importance on your results.
  3. Report results that matter. Speaking of results, don’t just copy and paste your objectives (yes, we can tell when you’ve backed into your objectives based on how your campaign performed). Give the judges numbers and percentages showing how the work really made a difference. Then use stories, anecdotes and quotes to amplify your numbers.
  4. Let us inside. Sure, sharing bread and butter details are ok, like brainstorming, content analyses, and focus groups. But those are the basics. Give us more – what’s the secret sauce that made your work great? Tell us about the aha moments, the tools you use to gain those insights or monitor your progress, headaches you had to solve for, and the moments you knew this would work. Details will help your narrative stand out because by letting us in, we’ll connect more with the effort and understand even more why the results are so stellar.
  5.  Make it easy on the judges. Think about how you can present your work so the judges can follow your thought process. Headlines, subheads, bullets, images… all work together to tell your story. We KNOW you know how to do this – you do it for your clients. Well, turn the magic onto your own materials so your judges can easily capture the brilliance of your work. Typos are a no-no. Misspellings are a no-no. Inconsistent spacing, even, takes away from the overall quality.