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Award-Winning Tips and Tricks from Wisconsin’s Leading Professionals

This piece was previously published in the Society for Marketing Professional Services Wisconsin Chapter Blog.


SMPS Wisconsin assembled an outstanding group of panelists to help share tips and tricks for producing award-winning project submissions. Panelists represented award programs from ENR, Milwaukee Business Journal, ASID, ACEC, and the Daily Reporter.


The panelists shared what each organization’s awards program represents:


Business Journal – Promote positivity and great things happening in the community as well as projects and individuals having a local impact.

ASID – Focus on commercial and residential interior design projects that best show how the design matches the clients’ objective

ACEC – Highlight the value of engineering while also emphasizing the importance of infrastructure.

ENR – Projects that are making a difference in the industry. Focus on innovation and what’s the benefit to the end user. Recognition for projects with best safety, team collaboration and low accident rate.

Daily Reporter – Projects that showcase community involvement and workforce development.

Mueller Communications – discussed how to maximize the publicity of winning awards as part of your firm’s overall communications strategy.


Jennifer Kraft, CPSM moderated the event, organizing the discussion topics into four key areas: Judging Process, Submission Content, What Makes a Winner and Marketing an Award. The panelists also shared closing thoughts with key takeaways for the attendees. Here are the key points discussed by the panel for each topic.


Judging Process:

  • Majority of judging is done individually, by volunteer or recruited judges

  • Organizations strive for a diversified panel of judges

  • Judges will often do background research on submitted projects, ask people in the community and/or drive by the project

  • Biggest projects and longest submissions don’t always win. Judges look for small projects too

  • Judges will rule out projects that don’t follow the guidelines or meet the criteria (good to double check before you submit)

Submission Content:

  • Get an early start on your submission. Judges can tell which submissions were done last minute.

  • Follow the award criteria/guidelines, and know what supplemental information you can also submit

  • Know your audience – know what the organization is looking for before you submit

  • Copy is key! Compelling writing always wins.

  • Tell the story. Emphasize and re-emphasize the unique features

  • Interview the technical staff

  • Ask yourself “So What?” when writing the submission; What makes this project interesting? What is unique about it?

  • Have someone unrelated to the project do a final review of your submission

  • Double check your grammar and English writing

  • Make it easy for the judges to review (use bold/underline text, sections, bullets, charts, etc)

  • Photography is very important to a project (judges want to see the project!) and should be of professional quality. You want to represent your project in the best way.

What Makes a Winner:

  • Project highlights or exemplifies a new trend

  • Project challenges the building and design teams

  • Project matched the design to the client’s goals

  • Submission that includes clear content points and strong stories

Marketing an Award:

  • Awards are rarely newsworthy, but the story or impact of the project can be.

  • Leverage/pitch the story of the project (i.e.; panel discussions, whitepapers, speaking opportunities, etc)

  • Use creative, personalized ways to get the word out about the award to your network (i.e., newsletters, handwritten notes, etc.)

  • Don’t over hype your award to win other awards, that won’t always work. However, if you do win, re-purpose the story for another submission. There is value in winning multiple awards.

Key Takeaways:

  • Tell the story – celebrate what you did, don’t be modest

  • Creative, persuasive writing always wins

  • Focus on the impact on the community and the uniqueness of the project

  • Have an objective in mind when you submit – what will you do with this award if you win?

  • Double check your grammar and English writing in your submission

  • Professional photography is important

Thank you to our Panelists for joining us and sharing industry tips and insights!

  • Tudor Van Hampton, Managing Editor, Engineering News-Record (ENR)

  • Mark Kass, Editor-in-Chief, Milwaukee Business Journal

  • Kelly Veit, Communications Director, ACEC Wisconsin

  • Ken Kraemer, Daily Reporter Top Projects Judge

  • Amy Meyer, ASID WI Design Excellence Awards Co-Chair

  • Elizabeth Hummitzsch, Director of Client Services, Mueller Communications


This blog was prepared by AlisonAlison Buczek, a Senior Marketing Coordinator for Kahler Slater’s Milwaukee office. Alison is additionally a member of SMPS Wisconsin’s Program & Logistics Committee.