'Showcasing your success can help your organisation and others.'
As nominations for the 2018 UK Housing Awards get underway CIH communications manager Steve Hayes answers some frequently asked questions.
Does my project have what it takes?
This is a common question and an important one to ask. Whether you’re the person in your organisation driving a submission or you’ve been asked to consider entering by someone else, it is always worth sitting down and considering if you think it meets the mark.
Your instincts are important. The UK Housing Awards recognise the best projects, approaches and initiatives in housing and we’re looking for work of a very high quality which sets a standard in the sector. Does it feel like your work could come under that banner? If you think it could then it’s worth a shot, if not then you might want to reconsider.
There’s an even more robust and simple test than this though. Take a look at the general guidance and the category criteria and do a simple exercise of measuring your work up against that. You need to be able to answer some fundamental questions. Did your work have clear aims and objectives, how did you deliver on them and what were the results?
We’re not looking for perfection but we are looking for work which can answer those questions and meets the criteria.
We only have a small team, how will I put the submission together and how long will it take?
An award submission is what you make it and setting aside a decent chunk of time is important.
The process of putting forward a submission generally has two stages – information gathering and writing.
The information gathering, or evidence gathering, process is probably the most time-consuming part of the submission but this doesn’t have to become an industry. A project or initiative normally has one or two people driving it. They can get you the detail and evidence that you need or put you in touch with the right people.
Trimming this down to 1,000 words is often the biggest challenge. To put into context just how quickly you’ll get to that point, you’ve already read more than a third of that if you’ve lasted to this point.
And though it is better if someone with good writing skills can put together your submission we are not looking for literary genius – just a convincing, concise demonstration that your work meets the criteria.
So though an award submission involves investing time this doesn’t have to be huge, you have the entirety of the nomination period to do the work and the benefits of being shortlisted or winning significantly outweigh the time you spent on your submission.
My project involved so much how can I possibly to cram all of that into 1,000 words?
There’s no way around it, this is tricky, but it’s also a great exercise in bringing out the best parts of your work.
Before you start a submission it is well worth putting together a brief one-sided plan of what you want to put into it, a bit like you did (or at least were told to do!) at the start of an exam.
Be brutal with your plan – if it doesn’t directly contribute to telling the story, it shouldn’t make the cut.
Remember as well that your submission is not meant to capture every element of your work – as much as we’d love to we don’t have time to read a 20,000-word report about it.
This is an exercise in building a clear, concise picture of your work. Planning, execution, results, passion - you need to give us enough of everything to convince us that you should be shortlisted to take on the pitch stage. This part of the process gives you the chance to go into much more detail about your work in front of the leaders in the sector.
It is also amazing how many unnecessary words we cram into sentences in our daily work. Your first draft will probably end up being well over the word limit, but you’ll be amazed at how much you can trim away without losing any meaning – in fact going through this process can vastly improve your submission.
So be selective, be concise, be compelling and be brutal when you need to be.
How much does it cost to enter?
Nothing – the UK Housing Awards are free to enter, so you have nothing to lose and everything to gain.
How do I make my submission standout?
I put together this piece on the topic of how to put together a submission previously. There are three big things to consider for me.
First of all be passionate. If you’re the person who was involved in the project really sell it to us, and if you’re someone writing on behalf of your organisation take the time to get to know the people at the heart of the project or work you’re writing about.
Secondly, gather evidence and testimony. The former is extremely important but so is the latter. It is one thing for you to tell us that you achieved something, it’s even better if that’s backed up in some way by someone else. So if your work helped residents or involved a partner, let’s hear from them,
Finally, think creative. Though an award submission does need to cover what we set out in the criteria it doesn’t have to be presented in a bland way. We changed our submission process to give you more freedom. If you prefer a more factual approach then that’s fine, but if you want to be a bit more colourful with your submission then there’s nothing stopping you.
What’s in it for me?
Awards are an excellent tool to recognise the hard work of people in your organisation and gain positive publicity.
Your entry is free so you have nothing to lose and being shortlisted or winning opens up more opportunities to you than ever before. You can use your internal platforms and the press, particularly in your local area, to announce you’ve made it to the final or won.
You will also gain a host of benefits aside from boosting the morale of your people and positive publicity, including a profile of your work in Inside Housing, opportunities to speak at high-profile events, a chance to showcase your work in CIH publications and in webinars and much, much more.
The UK Housing Awards are about showcasing the very best work in the housing sector. It is about recognising the organisations and people behind that work. But it also about much more than that.
In the more than 20 years that we have run the awards we have showcased thousands of projects and initiatives on everything from tackling homelessness to regenerating communities. The profile and recognition that organisations get from the awards helps them and us to continue to make the case for their invaluable work at a time it has never been more important to do so.
We are extremely proud to play a leading role in this.
- Find out more about the 2018 UK Housing Awards or enter here.