So you’re applying for a journalism award…

By Allison Barwacz, Digital Media Content Producer

Author: crdotx / photo on flickrApplying for a journalism award—whether it’s at a local, regional or national level—can be a daunting task. Using a mere 250 words to describe why your website, feature or news article, for example, deserves recognition above all others isn’t easy. But that’s how the judges determine a winner: Finding someone who’s able to set their work apart from others. With that in mind, use these application tips to raise the bar and earn recognition.

1. Use strong keywords.

Use descriptive adjectives to explain why your article is important. Keywords like “all-encompassing,” “comprehensive” and “educational” are important for describing your article. Don’t forget to explain why it is that way—it’ll make your argument more compelling.

Answer these questions so the judges know why you used those keywords.

  • Why did you write this article/create this project?
  • Did you cover a little-known topic in your industry?
  • Have your readers been asking you to explain this topic?
  • Is your industry evolving?
  • Why did you think this topic was important to cover?

2. Provide numbers.

The judges want to see the numbers; they want exactness, rather than simply being told that you spent “a lot” of time working on your project. Be specific, but don’t go over the top. If your article was read 11,569 times, write that it was read “nearly 12,000” times instead. In this case, numbers read better than words.

Answer these questions to obtain numbers that are critical to the judges.

  • How many people read your article/viewed your project?
  • Was your article one of the most-read articles for that particular month?
  • How many impressions did it receive on social media?
  • Did readers engage with your article/project on social media?

3. Explain your actionable strategy.

Sure, your project is important to your readers (isn’t that why you did it in the first place?), but how did you go about developing your project? After all, you already explained why your project is important for your readers (see tip No. 1). Compare your article to a cake. What ingredients went into it to make it the best cake in your region, state or nation?

Be sure to answer these questions in your application:

  • How many hours did you put into the project?
  • Did you conduct any interviews? How many?
  • Did you interview industry experts?

Correctly filling out award applications isn’t the easiest task, but the rewards far outweigh the challenges. Using these simple tips will help advance your application-writing skills—and help you win awards.

Photo: crdotx / photo on flickr

Allison Barwacz joined North Coast Media in 2014. She completed her undergraduate degree at Ohio University where she received a Bachelor of Science in magazine journalism from the E.W. Scripps School of Journalism. She works across a number of digital platforms, which include creating eNewsletters, writing articles and posting across social media sites. She, along with two other LM editors, won a silver medal at the national level for LM‘s social media presence from ASBPE.