I recently had the opportunity to be a jurist for the MM&M Awards. First, let me say a few things about “jury duty.” 

When you’re asked to judge an awards show, say yes. It’s a great way to see the how, the why and even the what of some great things your peers are doing. Plus, it’s good to give back to our industry. Awards shows allow us to celebrate great thinking and inspiring talent. It’s pretty cool to be a part of this.

Serving as a judge also offers insights into how to be a better entrant. If you’re submitting work or nominations for honors like Marketer or Marketing Team of the Year, there are some clear things you can do in that regard. 

Let me start by painting a picture of your “customers” in this feat, aka the jury. The jury members usually bring diverse experience and personalities to the task of judging. They’re probably going through many submissions—in your category alone. 

That’s where you come in. You want your submission to get noticed, and there are five (maybe more, but let’s stay focused) ways in which you can stand out.

When you’re asked to judge an awards show, say yes. It’s a great way to see the how, the why and  the what of things your peers are doing.

Judging takes a lot of time, because most judges live in your world, too, and want to give full consideration to every submission. But submissions start to sound the same. And it can get a little monotonous reading through hundreds of pages of insight, strategy and results. 

1. Tell a great story to entertain those judges

That’s right. Tell a story. With a beginning, a middle, and an end. One that grabs your reader’s attention and keeps them wanting to learn more. Many submissions just tackle each question individually and don’t think about how it all comes together. This is a big mistake. 

And, finally, results are part of your story. We can measure everything we do (practically), so include measurements, but not nine zillion of them. Pick what’s meaningful, and think about how to elevate them to include real numbers—but not a laundry list.

We can measure practically everything. Pick what’s meaningful and elevate them to include real numbers.

Read your entry from start to finish, and make sure there’s a theme that’s carried through. And review the criteria for your category, so that you build a story that brings that to life!

Title your entry—give it a good one that makes your judges eager to read what’s next. Consider testimonials. Sometimes you’re asked for them, but sometimes you’re not. It’s almost always helpful to hear what someone thinks about your accomplishments. 

2. Tie it all back to the submission category

We get it. You have a campaign you love. You’re entering it for Best Multichannel Campaign, Best Use of Digital, and, heck, you’re going to enter the team who did it for Marketing Team of the Year. Your entry needs to be different for each. See tip #1. Tell a great story. 

If it’s for the team, talk about the team, not just that they did this awesome campaign. Odds are, that was their job. What makes them special? How are they leaders? This is what judges want to hear. 

And back to that campaign, if we are looking at it as the best ad, make sure you figure out a way to celebrate it as a print ad. We know that “the ad” is often not our focus anymore—there’s so much more—but still, the ad can be a great way to express the idea itself. And the importance of the idea will never change. 

3. Come on—do the video!

Resist the temptation to include an off-topic video just because you have it. That’s just a distraction. And, the jury doesn’t appreciate distractions. Everything you include needs to relate to the category.

If you’re “strongly encouraged” on the entry to do a video, do a video. It doesn’t have to be complicated or overproduced (this usually works against you). You can shoot it on an iPhone even. Or animate slides. 

Do a video. This is a great chance to summarize your entry in a dynamic way, so take advantage of that opportunity. 

But make sure it adds to your story and is tailored to your category. This is a great chance to summarize your entry in a dynamic way, so take advantage of that opportunity. 

4. Follow directions

Okay, this may be stating the obvious, but assume everything you’re being asked on the entry is relevant. Everything. 

So, don’t leave blank answers to questions or decide they’re not applicable. This could be a category for which you’re getting a score. If you don’t include anything, you get no points. And that can be a shame.

5. Show some personality

Let’s go back to the jury. Sitting in a room. All day. Often after spending hours reviewing submissions online, too. Entries don’t need to sound so formal. They should represent what you would say in a live “pitch.” 

Use your space wisely. And, one last time, tell an engaging story that’s meaningful and on topic.

One last thing

Do awesome work. Drive your career and the work that you do by being in an organization with awesome people who keep pushing you and the work. 

Submit your work to celebrate the solutions that you came up with for your clients. Solutions that remind us every day why we choose to be in this industry in the first place. To make sure that products, support and services get to those that need them the most.

Tracy Blackwell is part of the leadership team at Fingerpaint’s New Jersey office. 

(To buy tickets for the MM&M Awards ceremony on October 10, 2019, click here. To view the shortlist, click here. -Ed.)