OPINION: Writing an award winning MFA entry

Brett Dawson
By Brett Dawson | 20 August 2012
Bohemia's Chris Christofi, Brett Dawson and Peter Leaver.

As we approach the grand prix judging of the 2012 Media Federation Awards, I found myself pondering over what goes into an award winning entry.

At the core, winning papers have a beautifully simple and clear line of well-argued strategic thought. They draw the reader in, tabling a formidable challenge and articulating a clear role for communications in addressing it. They reveal a generally unspoken human truth that leads to a ‘I wish I had of thought of that’ idea that ultimately unlocks the desired human behaviour.

Most winning papers are disciplined about keeping the idea separate, to how it was made and how consumers interacted with it. This is important as it ensures the reader grasps the concept before getting into the detail of execution.

Next up is the meaty part of the entry, the what we did and how we did it. Winners are again using simple language and emotional labels bucketed together, or signpost phases in a memorable and easy to understand way. They all articulate not just how each medium was used but why they were used, how they interacted with each other and what each contributed to the overall outcome.

The home run is then a clear bridge from the execution into demonstrable results that directly linked back to the opening challenge and role of communications. They not only talk media outputs, but also take it through to business outcomes and clearly discount any other contributing factors, removing any doubt in the readers mind. I am amazed that so many entries still fall off a cliff when it comes to the results section which is worth 35%+ of the marks.

A final observation is that most winning papers have a distinct element of Hollywood about them. By this I definitely do not mean language. Entries littered with agency land lingo like cloudsourcing, second screening, showrooming, multi varianting, social graphing, solomo-ing or anything-ficationing smell of desperation and cloud superior strategy. What I mean is they have a Hollywood style story arc to them, they are true to their genre (the category they are entered in) and they are just the right length.

Personally, I can’t wait to see the brilliant entries bubbling to the top this year and I look forward to the robust debate we have in awarding the worthy winners.

Brett Dawson
Media Federation Awards Chairman and Bohemia Group Managing Partner

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