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The UnAwards19 are almost here but without a team of judges to wade through the entries they wouldn’t be possible. Here are the reflections of a long-time judge on what makes a great entry.

by Ian Curwen

I am proud that I was once again a member of the judging panel for the UnAwards. This was actually my fifth year as a judge. It’s not a lie when I say I consider it a huge honour to do this, and for Darren to consider my view of what’s good in communications to mean something!

The awards have changed over the past five years, but what hasn’t changed is the passion and commitment on display from those who enter.

Here are some of the things I learned from judging this year:

1. Simplicity

A good idea is a good idea is a good idea. Each year I’ve been blown away by the entries that are submitted.

But what always strikes me is that the best are those which keep it simple, with a straightforward idea at their heart.

To give one example – one entry used a simple, memorable hashtag, in the run up to Christmas, to share stories they might not otherwise had the opportunity to do so.

2. Audience insight

This is one that really makes me smile. Over my five years of judging, there has been a huge shift from campaigns and ideas based on gut feel towards those that are based on data, evidence and audience insight.

In fact, the very best entries are those that clearly understand their audience needs. Funnily enough, they get the best results too.

One of the very best entries I’ve seen was for a fire service that conducted nudge testing on its home fire safety check service letters. They tested a number of different versions and eventually went with the one that had the best response.

As we’re required to get more bang for our buck, this approach will become the norm.

3. Use of Facebook groups

It’s no longer good enough to post something to your corporate Facebook page and consider that job done.

If you really want to engage with your audience, you need to find them. This now means searching out the most relevant Facebook groups and sharing your content with the members.

The reality is that if you don’t do this, your audience probably aren’t seeing or hearing what you’ve got to say. No matter how pretty or well written your content is.

4. Small budgets are no barrier – they’re the norm

This is a key part of the Unawards ethos, but it really does shine through in all the entries. Budgets are not the norm, and where they do exist, they are spent wisely to complement other activity, rather than being the key to a door marked extravagance (or free stuff).

The results are campaigns which are more creative and innovative, and which certainly do deliver.

5. Creativity

As outlined above, if you haven’t got a budget then you have to think differently about how you’re going to reach your audience.

Gone are expensive newspaper adverts, and glossy posters, and in comes social-led campaigns. But in a crowded marketplace, you need to think creatively to really hit the mark.

I won’t spoil any winners’ announcements here, but will say that in the past, success has included Lego figures, children’s voiceovers and new takes on traditional stories.

6. Volume

I have been delighted to see how the number of award entries has increased over the years. The sheer volume in recent years has been a bit of a wake-up call to the task ahead, when it comes to judging. But that can only be a good thing!

As always, I now look forward to the best day in my communications calendar – the UnAwards ceremony, which is taking place in Birmingham on Friday 6 December 2019.

See you there.

Ian Curwen is a stakeholder relations officer in the nuclear sector. You can say hello to him on Twitter at @IanCurwen

Image via Vallgall

Original source – comms2point0 free online resource for creative comms people – comms2point0

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