There is no prescribed format for entries for the Taxation Awards: entrants are free to design their entries in any way which they think appropriate. But the following notes, based on many years of experience by judging panels, may help you to maximise your chances of winning. They are written largely with the team awards in mind but will also be helpful for those putting forward nominations in the individual categories.
What you must do
Make sure that you submit your entry into the correct category. This may seem obvious but there have been several instances over the years where entries have been rejected because they don’t fit the criteria. If the award is for best single office tax practice and you have more than one office your entry will be rejected. Judges don’t reassign entries to other categories. We have slightly amended the categories this year and full details are given in the appendix. The same entry cannot be entered into more than one category.
Don’t exceed the word limit and page limit. It is there for a reason. The limit is generous enough to allow you to cover everything you need. In previous years we have allowed entrants to put extra supporting documents in. We have decided to change our policy here. We are not going to count every last word, but entries which clearly exceed the word limit will be returned to you with a request to re-submit them at a more suitable length – but the time limit will not be extended so if you submit an entry which is too long on the last possible day you may find it is too late.
What you may want to think about
The judges have to deal with a large number of entries. Make your entry something which somebody actively wants to read rather than have to plough through. Get somebody in your firm who has not been involved in preparing it to read your entry before you send it in: if his/her eye’s start glazing over half way through it may be time for a rethink.
Get the balance right. The best entries achieve a good balance between information about the team, the clients, the business and the financials. Don’t skew your entry too much in any one direction. Sometimes judges have found themselves commenting that they know all about the personal interests of the members of the team but nothing at all about what the firm actually does. At the other extreme bland information about the financial achievements without anything about the team doesn’t go down well. Make sure that the entry properly reflects the personality and ethos of your team.
Don’t fall into marketing speak. The entry should not be marketing spin or a puff piece for your firm. The judges can spot marketing speak from 100 yards. So by all means use your marketing teams to help put the entry together but make sure that the team that is actually being nominated takes ownership and control of the process.
Be honest. No individual or team is perfect. Judges respond well to honesty about things which have not gone well or challenges that the business have had to face.
Weave your testimonials into the narrative. A sheaf of testimonials at the back of the entry doesn’t have the same effect as positive comments from clients incorporated into the body of the entry. This is particularly the case where it is obvious that the firm has drafted a standard testimonial for clients to sign.
Photographs, illustrations and tables do help to give character to an entry. Ensure you don’t go overboard with these, the judges need to be able to read something.