How to know if you deserve a content strategy award?

Humility is an admirable quality – but it’s unlikely to win you or your team many prizes. So how do you decide if the content strategy work you’re doing is good enough to win a ContentEd Award?

Justice League themed arcade room

Some of us know when we’ve produced prize-worthy work. We’re happy to let others recognise it. And the judging criteria gives us some strong indications that we probably should enter this award or that.

But content strategy is still a relatively young discipline, full of people who don’t even think of themselves as content strategists. So it’s not surprising if someone counts themselves out of winning an award before they’ve even submitted an entry. When our work is all too often “behind the scenes”, we can sometimes keep ourselves there and not step out into the spotlight. That’s why the ContentEd Awards, being awarded on 27 June in Edinburgh, are different.

“We were just doing our job – why make a fuss about it – I’m sure others have done something more impressive.”

There are lots of reasons why it’s worthwhile submitting entries for relevant awards. But if you’re still debating whether to submit an entry, one place to look for what makes a high performing organisation for the approach to content is the Content Strategy Maturity Framework.

The 10 pillars of content maturity

At Pickle Jar Communications (yep, we’re the folks behind ContentEd) we developed our own tool for assessing the content strategy maturity of an education institution. The framework defines ten pillars that tend to underpin a high performing organisation when it comes to the planning, production, impact and maintenance of your content.  Those ten pillars are:

  1. Strategy and vision
  2. Leadership
  3. Audience insights
  4. Outputs, structures and efficiencies
  5. Assessment and evaluation
  6. Collaboration and interdisciplinary working
  7. Risk-tolerance and creativity
  8. Resource
  9. Skills and know-how
  10. Training and professional development

How does content maturity win ContentEd Awards?

So, our ten pillars provide a possible place to look for inspiration for ContentEd award entries.

The Excellence in Content Strategy Award

Do you have a clearly defined strategy and vision that’s actually being used in your university, rather than sitting on shelves? Have you used this past year to put training and professional development into place so your staff are up-to-date with emerging trends and content strategy best practice? Have you invested in ensuring your staff have the skills and know-how to make effective content for different channels and platforms?

Submit an entry for the Excellence in Content Strategy Award telling our judges how you went about that. We’ll be looking for a strategy that was actually put into action, and campaigns that were clearly informed by a defined strategy. In your entry tell us about the strategy and the process for creating and implementing it, not just the outcomes of it.

The Pioneer Award

Have you or someone you know advocated for content strategy within your institution? Has someone joined the dots in fresh, impactful ways between your strategic goals and your content. That individual’s leadership makes a meaningful difference where you are.

The Pioneer Award recognises leaders like that. A pioneer also thinks about how creative your approach to content is, and how willing you are to take risks.

Think about who the individuals are in your institution that consistently have creative ideas, are able to explore content creation and content operations in new ways, or were able to give content strategy a voice at a leadership level.

The User-focus Award

Our User-focus Award recognises one of the biggest challenges large education institutions have faced in developing effective content strategies: putting users first. Here’s where the audience insights pillar comes into play.

Visions, plans, goals, and key performance indicators are all important. But they can lead to content that’s overly focussed on what you want to tell people, and not conscious enough of what they need to know to achieve their top tasks. If you’ve made strides to put users first by deepening the level of audience insights you work with, tell us how you did that in your entry. Tell us about the new insights you uncovered, how you approached that, and how it changed the way that you worked. If you can demonstrate the impact that it’s had on your audience and your organisation, even better!

The Collaborator Award

Talk to people working with content in any large institution and they’ll describe silos that they wish they could bridge. Notice that our sixth pillar is collaboration and interdisciplinary working? This one assesses how individuals and teams work together across a university or department in order to create great content. So, how are you creating a more collaborative culture?

Maybe you’ve instigated a new forum, created a new tool, or started a Meetup to break through silos. The judges of our Collaborator Award want to hear your story. Since this award is all about working practice, don’t worry if you can’t link your evidence to actual impact on campaigns. But you might want to tell us about how those collaborative networks have made you more creative, more efficient and your content operations more effective. Or perhaps they’ve helped you bridge misunderstandings across teams and individuals.

The Better Storytelling Award and Best Content-led Campaign Awards

Ultimately your content strategy is only as good as the actual content that it makes possible. Our Better Storytelling Award and the Best Content-led Campaign Award both recognise, in different ways, innovation in the types of stories being told, or the mediums and channels being used for major campaigns.

Have you used new technology to tell the story of an institution this year? Or adopted an original storytelling style or approach? And have you created a campaign in which the content itself was the thing that you focused on before thinking about channels and platforms? And are you measuring the effectiveness of your campaigns in new ways so that you learn from every piece of content or campaign?

Tell us about us it in your awards entry.

Three simple steps to win you a ContentEd Award

The deadline for you to submit an entry to the ContentEd Awards is Friday 5 April 2019.  You can enter one award or go for all six for the same application fee of £50. So before it’s too late why not do the following:

  • Share the categories on whichever platform your team chats on. Ask your colleagues what they think you should go for.
  • Use your next team meeting to discuss submitting an entry. It’s a great way to tell them how much you appreciate their hard work.
  • If you’re still unsure whether your work deserves this kind of recognition, let our judges decide!

If you’d like to advance your knowledge of content strategy, you can find out more about ContentEd, book a ticket to our next conference, or take a look at our blog.

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