Prolific North Champions Awards judges for 2022 share what makes a winning entry

Charlie Spargo's picture
by Charlie Spargo

A selection of the judging panel at this year's Prolific North Champions Awards have shared insights on what they'll be looking for in a winning entry.

The final deadline for the awards, which recognise the companies, teams and individuals putting the North on the map in creative and digital, arrives on March 17th.

Finalists and winners will be decided by the leading judging panel, drawn from thought leaders across creative and digital in the region and beyond. See the full list of judges here.

2022 marks the 10th edition of the Prolific North Champions Awards, the flagship awards ceremony for the digital publisher. Each year hundreds of professionals from creative, digital, tech, media and marketing come together to celebrate in style.

This year is no different, with the high-profile awards ceremony taking place on May 26th, where the winners of each award will be announced.

What's more two categories, Young Outstanding Contributor and Outstanding Contributor to the North, are free to enter or nominate for and decided by a combination of judges' scoring and a public vote.

Ahead of the final entry deadline, a selection of the judging panel have outlined the things they'll be looking for in a winning entry, and what sets a good submission and a great one apart.

Kerry Leng, Head of Marketing, Communications and Information, Nexus

Tell us your story but keep it simple. Have a beginning, middle and end. Be bold, be confident and choose your words wisely. Have a strong, steady narrative that avoids waffle and inconsequential detail, and keep the judges interested in the story you have to tell.  

Remember that the judges reading your submission may know little about you, your industry, your purpose or your customers. Keep it concise but don’t assume any prior knowledge. 

Justify the decisions that you made and prove your success with evidence. Far too often I see award entries that fail to demonstrate any insight or evaluation beyond basic anecdote.

Good luck!

Liam Bateman, CTO, Silverchip

Answer the question. The number one issue we see as judges is people ignoring the question and telling us what they think we want to see. We’re judging a lot of entries and we have strict scoring criteria, so if a section asks you for some information, provide it or you risk losing up to a quarter of the overall score. 

Budget is an often contentious question that gets ignored, but if it’s part of the criteria we have to judge on that. Check each question and make sure you’ve answered it!  

Keep it simple. We want to get to the information as quickly as possible, so focus on the details and not the marketing content - we want to know all about the product and what it’s achieved. 

If you want to include brochures and marketing material then by all means do, but know that the most important part of the entry is the document that answers the questions.

I’m super excited for this year's awards. I’m looking for technical excellence, results that stand out and projects that have an exciting future.

Chris Condron, Chief Digital Officer, University of the Arts London

If you ask 12 judges for advice on crafting the winning award entry, you’ll get at least 12 different answers. So what to do - and why’s my advice better than anyone else’s? It’s not. 

There’s no right and wrong, different judges will look for different things. So my advice would be read all the advice - and then choose the bits that feel right for you.

But for me, rule number one: Answer the question. Dead simple. Answer the question you’re asked, not a slightly different one. Or one you prefer had been asked. Include examples in your answer. What were you trying to do? What did you do? What were the results? Use data. Credible data. Causal data.

Secondly, please use plain English. Try writing your entry with a bowl of pickled onions next to you. Every time you write something that sounds like business speak, anything that sounds like it’s trying to sound cleverer than it is, anything that is hiding more than it reveals, eat a pickled onion. Use small words, in short sentences, wherever you can.

Thirdly, tell a story if you can. Not ‘War and Peace’, but what worked, and what didn’t? We learn stuff when things don’t go to plan. I’m interested in what went wrong and what you did about it. We’ve all been doing this for long enough to know that ‘had plan, did plan, big win’ isn’t really how the world works.

Those entry boxes are big and blank, but you’re a person and your achievements came from a team of people. So are the judges - make it human. Good luck!

Claire Butters, Head of Marketing, Sale Sharks

The core thing I’ll be looking for is brilliant storytelling that anchors to a broader strategic framework. Insight-led thinking with the consumer need at the heart, which comes to life through incredible creative design, smart copywriting, and a well structured go-to-market plan.

Show me progressive thinking, disruptive ideas and personality, not just cool tactics stitched together or beautiful creative for creative's sake. I’d love to see an integrated approach with consideration to the business and marketing objectives and channel mix: Why that approach, what does success look like, how have you measured it, what was the impact, and what did you learn?

It would also be amazing to feel the passion and pride and excitement for the work coming through - no egos, added spice, or nonsense jargon please! Being authentic and humble is part of our Northern charm so it's important that is reflected in the entry.

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