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Boost Your Chances of Winning Media Awards

Know the Basics of Media Awards Before You Enter


A picture of a man holding a trophy

Follow basic guidelines to increase your chances of winning media awards.

Photo © Verity Jane Smith / Getty Images
Anyone's bookshelf or mantle would look better with a collection of media awards on top. Before you apply for an Emmy, Addy, Peabody, Pulitzer, or any of the dozens of other ways to win recognition, make sure you know the basics of entering. You'll give yourself the best shot at bringing home the prize.

Follow All Entry Instructions
Entering many competitions for media awards can be tedious, even ridiculous. You'll fill out forms, some of which have to be duplicated several times. If you're sending a DVD or videotape, there may be explicit instructions on how to produce a label to stick on it.

Before you take shortcuts, wait. In a close race for an award, the judges may choose the other person if you didn't follow directions to the letter.

If your entry misses the submission deadline, chances are slim that you'll even be considered. Judges are also sticklers for the limit of what you can submit. If the rules say your DVD can be no longer than ten minutes, don't submit 11.

Choose Easy-to-Understand Content
Your news story or interview that had the whole town talking may not be appreciated by a judge in another part of the country. If you're allowed to explain why your submission is important to your audience, take the time to do so.

But if you find yourself over-explaining why a long, sit-down chat with someone was this year's blockbuster "get", then you may want to pick other content to submit. When judges have dozens of entries to review, they are looking to be wowed from the first moment they see your work.

Show a Wide Range of Work
Just as when you submit a DVD, tape or clips of your work as part of a media resume, you want to show the judges a variety of what you've accomplished. If you work in TV news and are planning on submitting two great stories on fires to try to win a "Best Reporter" award, pick the better of the two and then choose a story that's completely different, like a feature story.

If you work for a magazine or newspaper and are entering a more narrow category, like for medical reporting, you still should look for ways to show a broad spectrum of work. That could include a newsy story on a medical breakthrough, like a new form of cancer treatment, followed by a more emotional piece, like on how a kidney patient copes with dialysis.

Talk to Someone Who's Won
This can be your key to success. You can find out whether that person submitted the maximum amount of materials allowed in the competition, or something dramatically less to ensure that it was seen.

If you talk to an award winner, you can find out whether that person sent in her entire 10-minute radio interview with a celebrity (as some award rules would require) or only a one-minute clip of the best part of the interview. If someone won by slicing and dicing their year's work, that gives you greater flexibility in making your entry. If you coughed or stumbled while conducting an interview, you could edit that out -- if the rules allow.

Keep Trying if You Don't Win
It's easy to get discouraged if you aren't recognized as the best in your media field. Poring over your work, choosing your best content, crafting your entry and filling out the forms take a lot of time.

You don't have to work in media long to say to yourself, "I can't believe he won for 'Magazine Editor of the Year.' I've worked in the business ten years longer than him!"

Often the judges of next year's competition will be completely different than from this year. So you'll be showcasing yourself before an entirely new group of people. Many regional media awards are judged by people in the same field who work in a different part of the country. If you are a TV sports reporter in Connecticut and the judges in Georgia failed to give you a trophy, maybe next year the judges in Arizona will think you're great.

Know that Your Career Doesn't Depend on Awards
Even if you never win that coveted plaque or statue, your career can be a success. Some people win media awards to impress their colleagues or competitors, or to spice up their resume.

Those people aren't necessarily the best at what they do or the best employees. Managers who've been burned by hiring multiple award-winners who don't work out know that fact. So should you.

No matter how many media awards you rack up, someone else will always have more, or try to say their awards mean more than yours. What matters most is the satisfaction you take in your job and the confidence your managers have in your work.

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