This year I was honoured, excited and frankly a bit scared to be asked to be a judge for the healthcare craft awards at the 34th Pharmaceutical Marketing (PM) Awards. Having attended many a PM Awards over the years (some are more blurry than others), I was extremely curious about what goes on behind closed doors in the judging room. This was my chance to find out.
When the judging was over and the dust had settled, I realised how much I’d learned from the brilliant and slightly exhausting experience. In case you are planning to enter the PM (or other) awards in the future, here are a few things to help you...
Get the basics right
Believe me when I tell you, there were a lot of high-quality entries. And I mean, a LOT. Some of the 20 categories have 30–40 entries, so make sure your submission is worth the entry fee. Before entering, ask yourself: does this meet the entry criteria? Is it real work, for a real client? Does it clearly explain the story of what the entry is? If the answer to any of these is no, save your money and enter next year. And if you’re not completely confident that your entry is good enough for one category, don’t enter it into multiple categories. It may get discounted early on and not revisited.
Stand out from the crowd
If your entry meets the basic criteria, you then need to ask yourself - how can I make mine stand out? Judging takes a lot of mental energy, and after a while, all of the entries seem to blend into one. Do something to jolt us out of our malaise. Video was effective, especially towards the end of a long day of judging. Keeping your video simple (and to time), with a decent voice-over artist, clear subtitles and appropriate music will go a long way to getting the judges’ attention. Adding some personality and humour can also crack a smile in the judging room when the 3pm caffeine boost has worn off.
Tell a story
We saw a lot of innovative, ground-breaking ideas and final executions during the judging. What sometimes lacked was the story of how the idea came about, and enough insight to help us understand what impact those ideas had. What happened as a result of your campaign? How did it positively impact healthcare professionals, patients or its target audience? A brilliant final execution isn’t always enough to get your entry over the line.
Show off your work
If you have taken the time to make something, as part of your campaign, make sure to send the final piece in its entirety. It’s hard to judge something from a couple of pages on a concept board, and we’d like to experience it the way it is actually used.
Say yes to being a judge
I had a brilliant time judging the awards. I was exposed to a shedload of creative ideas and met some fascinating people in the judging room, with a variety of perspectives and expertise. I also know a lot more about how to enter awards. If you get the opportunity to judge an awards show, grasp it with both hands, and be prepared to drink a lot of coffee.
Best of luck to everyone who entered the PMs. If you won big, enjoy the celebrations. But if it wasn’t to be this time, there’s always next year.