Judges at the Prolific North Champions Awards share their advice on submitting a winning entry

Charlie Spargo's picture
by Charlie Spargo

The early bird deadline for the Prolific North Champions Awards arrives on July 2nd.

The Champions Awards are Prolific North's flagship awards ceremony, and celebrate the top talent in digital and creative - rewarding businesses, projects, platforms and individuals. See the full list of categories - and start your entry - here.

This prestigious event, previously known as the Prolific North Awards, has been running since 2013 and regularly draws an audience of hundreds from the industry who come together to celebrate in style. This year, the event will take place on September 16th at The Point, Lancashire Cricket Club.

Its judging panel is drawn from across the sector and the region, and includes industry leaders from tech, market research, TV, eCommerce, investment, government and beyond. See the full list of judges announced so far.

Ahead of the early bird deadline, a selection of the illustrious panel have shared what they'll be on the lookout for when judging the awards, as they pick their shortlists and ultimate winners for each category.

Alex Hamilton, Head of PR & Social, McCann Leeds

The best thing about judging industry awards like the Prolific North Champions Awards is that you get to feel the pride and passion that runs through the veins of the marketing, creative and digital industries in our region. With every award entry comes a unique set of objectives and challenges, and the best award entries are the ones that take the judges through the same experience and journey that the team behind the award entry went on.

1,000 words might not seem like a lot when distilling a campaign or giving a business overview, but keeping it concise with measurable and tangible results that are clearly signposted back to your objectives will help to close the loop and take your entry from a submission to a serious contender. If you’re afraid that the template judging form doesn’t do you justice, then get creative, include visuals and break away from the expected, just make sure you answer all the questions!

The entries that are supported with sound research, insight, and understanding, are the ones that just make sense. Things like showing a demonstrable and thorough understanding of your audience, being clear and honest about budgets and numbers, and showing the clear strategies that have helped to inform your work as either a part of campaign or business/team submission will give the judges the confidence to give you high scores.

Sharon Amesu, Leadership Consultant & Professional Speaker

I’m a Northerner born and bred. I have always been incredibly proud of our distinct regional traits of innovation, creativity and possibility. The Prolific North Champions Awards celebrates those organisations that epitomise the best of these traits. That’s why I’m delighted to be judging these industry awards.

Awards matter. They are a testament to excellence in your industry. I encourage all applicants to be bold and unapologetic about your accomplishments when submitting your application. Use your 1,000 words meaningfully and thoughtfully. Tell us about what you’ve done, but more importantly, what impact made. How has your work changed the landscape? How did your strategy shift the dial? What difference did your campaign make to the overall result?

Let’s see the best of the North through you!

Mike Jeffs, Chief Commercial Officer, Hark

Your success stands out in a sentence and draws us in to well-structured detail. 

For me an award entry has to stand out, find a way of summing up the impact your work has had in a sentence, or maybe a visual. This will make judges want to read more. You can’t beat the age old ‘repeat the question in the answer’ too - what was the problem and how big a problem is it? This helps shape the value and draws us in to the context of your story of success. 

A well-structured submission implies that you take the same approach with your projects and makes it easier for us to get hooked into the detail you provide. Lastly, when giving results, paint the ‘before and after’ picture: Why was this result good in comparison to your company or client competitors?

Hannah Cox, Founder, Betternotstop

We all have a duty, especially businesses, to leave the planet better than we found it. It's not just about being successful in terms of how profitable a business is, it's also about its social and environmental impact. I want to help champion and support businesses that are doing good. 

I think it's the responsibility of all businesses to make the world a better place to live in, and that's not just what they produce, but how they produce it. I want to know how their staff are treated, if they care about the community their business is based in, and how they look after their customers. These are all such important factors to me when looking at the success of a business. 

Betternotstop and the Better Business Network work with businesses with the same values, and I'd be interested to learn more about how the nominees work. Building and maintaining a business is tough, and the last 12 months have taught every business owner that being adaptable and resilient is all part of the journey. I'm not without my fair share of mistakes, successes and failures, so telling an honest story through your entry is so important. I'll be looking out for the businesses that are trying to do something different and that want to create a better future.

Liam Bateman, CTO, Silverchip

Answer the question: This is twofold. The first part is, well, answer the question! We see too many entries that leave questions blank. We score each entry on points and no answer equals no points, so you can lose up to a third of the overall mark by not answering the question!

The second part of this is to read the question and answer it - don’t try and slot extra info in. If the question asks for your budget and a breakdown, provide the details. If it asks for why you should win this award, tell us why you should win the award. Don’t just drop your company bio in!

Support documents are extras: Some entries get very carried away with supporting documents, but as judges we need to mark the entries based on the strict criteria we’ve been given. By all means, submit the extra documents, but make sure that the core entry is on point and all the info is in there. There’s no point in an artistic PDF that shows us the beautiful UI if you forgot to write about it in the award submission!

And an award entry is not a press release: While winning an award may result in some great PR for your business, the entry itself should not be written like PR. The more marketing spiel in there, the harder the judges need to work to get to the really meaningful information. Remember, you generally have a set word count limit. Don’t waste it - get to the specifics as quickly as you can.

Ben Davies, Group Marketing Director, Praetura Ventures

Don't rush straight to the stats! So many award entries leap straight to the numbers, which mean nothing without the right overall narrative and context. Use simple emotive language, interesting examples and key milestones to bring your application to life. Set up the story for why your company, team, campaign or innovation is distinct, then prove it by punctuating these claims with the hard facts and figures.

Consider the challenges COVID-19 created for our industry. The last 12 months have been hard for everyone, both personally and professionally, with setbacks in all different shapes and sizes. Overcoming a challenge is more powerful than simply listing highlights. These hurdles present an opportunity to show your character, resilience and determination in the face of adversity. Use your application to show how you pivoted and adapted to the world's new conditions and came out better for it.

Focus on the North. Winners should have exceptional results, create tangible impact and influence others beyond the realms of what's expected of them. These factors are all a must-have in any award submission for any event. When submitting to the Prolific North Champions Awards, the key is to hone in on your contribution to the region's industry. Applications should show how you have elevated the North's creative and digital ecosystem.

Enjoyed this? Get our latest updates in your inbox every day

Subscribe to Prolific North’s morning newsletter to keep up with all the most important things going on in your sector.