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Learning Series: Planning Your Next Awards Cycle

Learning Series: Planning Your Next Awards Cycle

What do you do after your awards program is over? It can be tempting to take a month or two to recuperate, but there’s planning to do.

Planning is the most important step you can take for your program. But, what does it mean to actually “plan” next year’s program when the call for entry is practically 9 or more months away? Below, we reveal 5 steps to help you do just that.

Step 1: Review Your Previous Program

What was successful about your previous program? What could you have done better? What should you have added to your program that you didn’t?

Reviewing your previous program will give you a great starting place for next year and demonstrate areas in which you’ll be more successful.

Step 2: Determine What Changes You Want to Make

After reviewing last year’s program, you’ll find there are changes you may want to implement. These might be straightforward changes, such as creating a new category, or more drastic changes, such as putting together an entirely new judging panel or method for judging entries.

Step 3: Update Materials

You can’t keep your website, email structure, and printed goods identical year after year. This suggests stagnation in your program and may make returning members feel as if there’s nothing new or special about what you’re offering.

Reinvigorate your program with a new website design or other new elements. Doing so is a simple way to breathe new life into the program each year.

Step 4: Prepare Your Marketing Campaign

It’s never too early to begin planning and preparing your marketing campaign. Here you can create templates for emails, newsletters, social media, and other platforms to ensure when your program launches, you have everything you need to get started.

Step 5: Create a Preliminary Judging Panel

Remember, judges attract many entrants to your awards program. By creating a preliminary judging panel with some big names in your industry, you can incentivize those who may not otherwise enter to consider your program.

When you’re selecting judges, be mindful that reputation and respect are everything. Choose your judges wisely.

What Steps Will You Take to Plan Your Program?

It’s never too early to begin planning your program. By following the steps above, you’ll be ahead of the curve and guarantee a smooth, seamless transition from one year to the next.

Want a companion worksheet to begin planning your next cycle? Download it here.

Ashley Surinak is the resident OpenWater expert on all things content. From the blog to guides and beyond, you'll find her at every turn in your OpenWater journey.

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