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The Chartered Institute of Housing is the independent voice for housing and the home of professional standards

Top five tips to make your award submission stand out


The deadline for our regional awards and the Housing Heroes Awards have both been extended but fierce competition means it's really important that you do your work justice. Steve Hayes, communications manager at CIH, gives his top tips on how to make sure your submission stands out.

Most of us have encountered awards at some point in our career, particularly those who work in communications. They can be a fantastic way of gaining much-deserved recognition for your organisation and promoting your services and people.

Our regional awards are a great chance to showcase your work as the best in your area and some of the categories lead directly to a place in the final of the Housing Heroes Awards which have also been extended to February 24. There’s fierce competition and you have to make your submission stand out.

Here are five things to bear in mind to make sure yours shines.

• Be prepared

You must plan. Whether you’re the person responsible for pulling together the submissions or you’re responsible for encouraging others to enter – do it as early as possible. That way you won’t find yourself swamped with entries with a few days to go to a deadline and rushing your way through. A rushed submission is invariably a bad one.

You need to give yourself the time to do your research and gather what you need to give the submission the weight it needs and capture the project, initiative or team you’re entering in the best way possible.

Planning gives you the ability to target the right categories, gather the strongest nominations and ultimately a much better chance of winning.

• Be passionate about what you’re entering

You’d think this was obvious but many submissions fall short because it’s clear the person who wrote them doesn’t know anywhere near enough about what they’re talking about.

If you’re the person who was involved in the project really sell it to us, and if you’re someone writing on behalf of your organisation take the time to get to know the people at the heart of the project or work you’re writing about.

Make phone calls, talk to people face-to-face, and find out as much as you can to really sell the project. It’s obvious who has done this and who hasn’t.

• Gather evidence and testimony

This is really important and it’s also where a lot of submissions fall short.

Whatever you are entering try and get as much quantitative and qualitative evidence as possible to demonstrate its value. Without this your submission will lack weight. So if you’re entering a development award for example, don’t just tell us how many properties you built and how you built them, show us the impact they have had, tell us how they’ve changed lives.

Speak to people outside of your organisation. External testimony is a great way for you to demonstrate the wider significance of your project. If you worked with a local authority on a project or a community group, include their thoughts too – they’re just as important.

Being creative is great, but neat writing tricks and waxing lyrical will only get you so far. Make sure you delve deep enough to gather the data you need to back up your claims – putting in the time to do this is often what takes an award submission from being good to being great.

• Be creative

It’s easy to look at the criteria and feel like you’re about to sit an exam. But in fact awards often give you the freedom to be creative and as long as you keep the criteria in mind this is your chance to put your writing flair to the test – particularly with our new format this year.

Include colourful quotes and case studies and really sell the project, individual or team you are entering.

Think outside the box and don’t count yourself out too soon. This year we’re giving you more freedom to tell us why the work of your organisation is so good. Don’t be put off if you look at the criteria and you don’t meet one of them very well but you meet all of the rest for example. Tell us the whole story and convince us why what you’re doing is so good.

There is a caveat here: don’t get carried away. You shouldn’t let your entry become a vanity project as it will ultimately be scored against the criteria.

• Think recognition and publicity

It’s easy to get wrapped up in the excitement of being shortlisted or winning and to forget that awards are an excellent tool to recognise the hard work of people in your organisation and gain positive publicity.

If you’re lucky enough to be shortlisted or win, celebrate it! This can give you the currency to talk about something which may otherwise be tricky to get publicity for.

This year being shortlisted or winning will open up more opportunities to you than ever before so use your internal platforms and the press, particularly in your local area, to announce you’ve made it to the final or won.

You have to get there first though!

Good luck to everyone taking part.

For more information on award submissions visit our awards site or contact Steve Hayes.

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