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Do’s and Don’ts for a Stellar Economic Development Industry Award Entry


Girl holding multiple awards-IEDC-awards

Looking to make a real impact on the economic development industry or put your community in the spotlight for its economic development initiatives and successes? What better way than to share your organization’s most innovative project or program with your peers for a chance to be recognized as a leader in the field.

With the submission deadline for IEDC’s 2015 Excellence in Economic Development Awards coming up on May 15, it’s a great time to think about how best to position your project or program as a winner. In that spirit, here are some do’s and don’ts for a stellar industry award entry.

DO: Choose Your Award Category Carefully

In a recent webinar on IEDC’s Excellence in Economic Development Awards, judges emphasized the importance reviewing the award category criteria to make sure your project or program is submitted in the correct category. Even if the project is outstanding, it’s unlikely that it will receive a winning score if it’s being judged by the wrong criteria.

DON’T: Be Generic

Focus on what makes your project or program unique. Think about it from the judges’ perspective: with 500+ entries to review, what key characteristics are going to make your project or program stand out from competing entries as a winner?

DO: Focus on Outcomes

Your project may be innovative, but how did it impact or contribute your community and the economic development professional as a whole? To get recognized as a winner, make sure to emphasize the specific outcomes of your initiative.

DON’T: Rely on Buzzwords or “Fluffy” Language

While it’s important to be persuasive in your writing, you want your project or program to speak for itself. A clear, concise description of the unique characteristics, purpose and results of the project or program is more likely to grab the judges’ attention than a lengthy essay. If you find there’s more to say than you have room for, you can provide additional information in an optional profile (maximum of 3 pages, double-spaced) attached to your entry.

DO: Pay Close Attention to Judging Criteria

IEDC lays out very specific judging criteria for each award category. Use these as a framework through which to view and describe your entry. If you’re submitting a General Purpose Print Brochure, for example, consider using the judging criteria (Effectiveness of the promotion, Innovation/Creativity, Quality and Completeness of Information, Contribution to the Economic Development Profession) as a checklist for your response.

DON’T: Overdo the Supplements

Include supplemental material if (and only if) it provides important additional information, but remember that, with more than 500 submissions to review, judges have a limited amount of time to review your application.

DO: Proofread, Proofread, Proofread

Is your entry 100% complete? Did you follow the instructions exactly? Did you glaze over any grammatical errors? Hastily written entries may be judged poorly and incomplete entries won’t be judged at all, so make sure you have at least 2-3 other sets of eyes check it over before you submit.

Now you’re ready to wow the judges at this year’s IEDC Excellence in Economic Development Awards! Still looking for inspiration? Check out our blog for weekly profiles on this year’s “40 Under 40” Rising Stars in Economic Development winners, award-winning campaign ideas and more.

Written By

Patience Fairbrother

As Vice President, Talent Attraction, Patience oversees DCI’s Talent Attraction practice area, which helps cities, states, regions and countries to attract the workforce of the future through custom research and targeted marketing campaigns. Patience also serves as co-chair of DCI’s Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DE&I) initiative.

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