Do you want insider secrets on winning a Gala Award? They're all here!
This year's competition is open to events that have taken place between Sept. 1, 2011, and Aug. 31, 2012. Events that place after Aug. 31 may be entered in next year's competition.
Some important tips to remember:
* entries must be anonymous * only entry categories with dollar figure listed in the title must include a budget * entries created for the business and based primarily on donations (e.g., events at The Special Event, ISES) are not eligible
For the link to the official Entry Form and the official Gala Budget Template--both interactive PDFs—and instructions, click here. To help you prepare your entry, here are some frequently asked questions:
Can an event company from anywhere in the world enter the Gala Awards?
Yes! We are honored to receive entries from Europe, North and South America, the Middle East, etc.
I am entering the category “Best Achievement in Logistics.” Do I need to include a budget?
No! Only categories with a dollar figure in the title need to include a budget. So, if you are entering "Best Floral Design," you do not need to include a budget. But if you enter "Best Wedding: Budget Under $1,000 Per Guest," you do need to include a budget.
If you do need to include a budget, be sure the use the Gala Budget Template so that you include all the line items the judges are looking for. The judges realize that not all entries will require each line in the template, but try to follow the template as closely as you can.
As a Gala Award entrant, should I make sure to keep my company’s name out of the descriptions in the entry?
Yes! In years past, the Gala Awards did not require anonymous entries, but the judges have decided this is important to preserve the integrity of the competition. Be sure to double-check any DVD labels, production schedules, etc., for your name.
But what about my client's name—is it OK to have that name in the entry? (My client's name appears in decor, on signage, on the invitation, etc.)
Yes, it is OK if your client's name appears in the entry.
But I am an in-house event professional--I created the event for my own company. Is it OK that my company's name appears in the binder?
Yes, that's fine—the purpose of many special events is to emphasize a brand. And the judges don't know if the in-house event professional or an outsider creates the event. Just remember to avoid referring to yourself as an employee of the "client" company.
How do I know what the Gala judges are looking for?
Here is a sample judge's sheet. You can see the judges rate on important criteria such as creativity, effectiveness, understand of objectives and professionalism.
The entry form asks for entries to be supplied in three-ring binders, but my part of the world uses four-ring binders. Is that all right?
Can I get my Gala entry returned to me?
No. All Gala entries become property of Special Events.
When are Gala entries due?
The regular deadline is Sept. 14 by 4 p.m. Pacific Time; the fee is $99. The special "late bird" deadline is Sept. 21 by 4 p.m. Pacific Time; the fee is $125.
When do I found out if I am nominated?
The nominees in each category will be notified by Nov. 23, 2012.
Help, I still have questions! Whom can I contact for help?
You are welcome to e-mail questions here.
Secrets of Success When Hiring an Awards Writer
By Ruth Moyte
Former Special Events Advisory Board member and Gala Awards judge Ruth Moyte is writer and speaker who has nearly 20 years' experience as an event executive.
Have you ever gone to the store to buy a pair of shoes with no idea what you are looking for? There are questions you ask yourself before purchasing the perfect pair (or in my case, several pairs). What color should they be? Are they sexy stilettos or fun flip-flops?
My point is this: There is a right fit for every occasion. So it is when hiring a writer to write your award submissions.
There are writers who excel at marketing, e-commerce, technical writing, speeches and so on. The approach for each purpose is very different. Not every shoe—er, writer--fits every purpose.
There is more to writing an award-winning submission than just answering the questions with perfect grammar. While a talented creative writer is an excellent resource to start with, creativity is not the only skill you should be looking for. There are other qualities to consider when investing in a writer to help with your Gala Award submissions. Here are a few things to think about:
Does the writer have event experience?
Someone with event experience understands what is pertinent and what is not to the category in which the event is being submitted. Simply put, beautiful decor is not going to be the focus when you are entering your Olympics event in the logistics category.
Someone who has hands-on experience and knowledge of the events business can bring the vision to life for other event professionals. Having an event background means the writer is better able to get the necessary information and guide you through the process of creating an award-winning entry.
Can the writer paint the picture?
Every event is a story, so your submission should tell one as well. The writing needs to be intelligent, flowing and evocative. Touching emotion is key.
The judges weren't at the event. The writing (along with the supporting evidence) has to place them right in the middle of the event. A good awards writer can transport a reader, awaken emotion and pique the judges' attention and curiosity. Whether it’s a wow moment, an OMG!, a humorous touch or something that chokes them up as they read, vivid details can be key components of a well-written entry.
Having been a judge myself, I can tell you there is only one event that was so astounding that it won in spite of being very poorly written. On the other hand, I’ve seen events win that were not as deserving in theory as other entries. Most often, it’s because the writing didn't get the relevant points across well. A writer can help you avoid pitfalls and engage the judges.
Can the writer sell?
An award specialist also knows how to “sell” why the event should be an award winner and how it exceeds the judging criteria in relatable and significant ways. Having some marketing skill running through the veins never hurts. But beware: These submissions are not advertisements--they are experiences, and they need to be reflective of the event.
Good writers do not have to be English professors.
Good writers do not need to have been English majors, but they should have an engaging style that is easy to read. The copy should be put together well, with good syntax, sentence structure and spelling. Remember, entries are not just one-off presentations; they are a reflection of your overall work as a professional business. Events people are detail people. A successful writer is a great editor and proofreader.
At the end of the day …
I often have new clients approach me saying, “We need to win, so you have to write it." The truth of the matter is that the event has to stand on its own.
Writers cannot make an event win, but they can help get it noticed. Successful and experienced awards writers should be able help you decide if the event is a contender, what category to enter and the best angle to take. They can then guide you through the rules and criteria to set you up for success.
Once you hire a writer, make that person a part of your team, and have them at your events if possible. Set them up for success. Let them write throughout the year, not just when the deadline is right around the corner. This approach is well worth the investment to produce quality writing and potential achievement, while reducing your levels of deadline anxiety.
Good luck, and, hopefully we’ll see you at The Special Event in January for the Gala Awards!
Moyte can be reached at 818/906.9884 or by email at [email protected]