The view from the other side

Last month I was given the opportunity to be part of the jury for the All-India Coaching Conclave Awards. Instituted for the first time, there were different awards across different categories. We had an eclectic jury consisting of both, international as well as national coaches, renowned in their respective area and level of specialisation. 

During my many decades of working life, I have been involved in submitting many entries for various kind of awards either in the field of communications, public affairs and/or corporate social responsibility (CSR). 

Winning an award is a different ball game altogether. The real challenge lies in sending in the application. It is important first and foremost to understand why the participation and winning of that award is important. The reason would be prestige, brand association, recognition and/or simply monetary benefits. Irrespective of what the reason is, writing in the details is not as easy as it looks to be. One has to really give it a hard thought and be clear about what makes your work stand out and be award worthy.

Being on the other side as a juror, there have been some important learnings that I have picked up. Understanding what the juror/jury is looking for can help you ensure your entry has all the essential information required.

  • Insight 1

Only those entries that fulfill all the essential criteria for eligibility are sent to the jury. The initial shortlisting weeds out incomplete or non-eligible entries.

Tip: Make sure you have read the prerequisite criteria thoroughly. 

  • Insight 2

Specific and clear answers to specific questions ensures the application gets the attention of the jury.

Tip: Re-read the answer/explanation you have provided to the questions. Do they give the details asked for? Or is it a mere verbose paragraph with details that mean nothing?

  • Insight 3 

Building a story around the campaign is a great way to hold the full attention of the jury. 

Tip: Your narration style matters. Emotional anecdotal real stories work best! Go back to the ground and scan your work to tell your best story. Each campaign/project has those pieces. The trick is to pick one that not only showcases success but also highlights the challenges.

  • Insight 4

Any entry that is able to showcase impact and provide metrics has a high chance of moving up the winning ladder. Real impact stories are the powerhouse of change and an indicator of success.

Tip: Information and data point are critical and need to be built in the story. Ensure the data is authentic and the impact/change is well documented. 

  • Insight 5

Often, a jury consists of multiple people with diverse backgrounds, interests and passions. Each one looks at the entry differently and with a perspective unique to her/him.

Tip: Make sure your entry captures all the relevant aspects and is able to provide a holistic picture. For instance, if your campaign is focused on healthcare, the narration can be built around how improvement in healthcare has impacted not just the family but has also changed the dynamics with relation to better attendance of children in school, less expenditure on medicines, so on and so forth. The narrative should be able to hold the jury’s attention.

  • Insight 6

Evidence and references matter. Many award applications ask for references and/or documentation that can be citied as evidence to what has been written. The jury scrutinises these as well and incomplete information on this can be quite a derailer.

Tip: Do make a note of this important criteria and ensure the application is duly completed in all aspects including references and supportive documents.

Winning an award is not easy and it helps to focus on the application process, the criteria and the narrative style. 

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Sarita Bahl
Country Group Head CSR at Bayer - South Asia
Sarita Bahl leads the Corporate Social Responsibility function for Bayer South Asia and is also the Director – Bayer Prayas Association. Prior to this, she successfully oversaw the communications and public affairs function for Bayer South Asia. Over her three decades of professional experience, Sarita has held multiple roles across diverse industries, public sector, trade associations, MNCs and the Not-for-profit sector. An alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Science and the Swedish Institute of Management Program, Sarita specializes in stakeholder engagement, sustainability and communications. She is passionate about animals (is mother to a female cat), books and movies.

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