1 May 2019

Winning ways: how to write a winning REINSW Awards submission

This year marks 15 years since Ewan Morton, Joint Managing Director at Morton Real Estate, first entered the REINSW Awards for Excellence.

Entering every year since 2004, he’s often asked why he goes to the effort. Is it worth it? His answer: “Definitely!”

“At Morton, we believe being the best will attract the best,” he says. “In our industry, business success is tied to the integrity and quality of staff. So, for us, entering the Awards for Excellence has always been about credibility.

“Our aim is to be an employer of choice. Participation in the program has raised our profile in the industry and attracted the attention of new talent. It also provides a platform to build our agency’s reputation as innovative and forward thinking.”

According to Morton, there are also benefits at a client level.

“I don’t believe someone will sell or lease their property with us simply on the strength of our awards track record, but it’s a supporting factor that demonstrates we’re an agency of substance,” he says. 

Once we started entering, we made a commitment to keep entering. It demonstrates that we work hard to achieve excellence and strive to always be the best we can be.

Committing to excellence

“I’ve often heard people say ‘I’m not going to bother entering because I know I won’t win’ – but that’s not in the spirit of the Awards for Excellence,” says Morton. “As the name suggests, it’s about committing to excellence.

“At Morton, we’ve won as many times as we haven’t. But each time we don’t, it’s motivation to improve. Remember, you’re lining up against agencies and individuals who are at the top of their game. That’s an incredibly positive thing. If you’re not announced as a finalist, that’s OK. You’ve had a go – and you have something to strive for in the future.

Morton says if you want to be viewed as a professional, then you have an obligation to submit yourself to assessment by your peers.

“Only then can you really say you’re the best of the best,” he says. “In my view, peer recognition is important because it represents judgement by your harshest critics. Those within the industry understand what works, what doesn’t, what’s exceptional and what’s overrated.

"And therein lies the true value of an REINSW Award for Excellence. It adds to our industry and is a great opportunity for all of us to get out there and celebrate the best of what we do, profile our highest achievers and demonstrate our commitment to excellence.”

Having been both an REINSW Awards for Excellence entrant and judge, and entrant on other industry awards, Morton believes the submission and judging process is second to none.

“It is completely transparent,” he says. “I’ve been on both sides of the fence and I can say unequivocally that it’s the best framework by far.

“Judges are presented with a set of criteria for each question asked, which ensures all submissions are assessed in the same way. And the online judging platform means there’s no potential for collusion between judges – each judge assesses each submission independently and the system tallies the scores.”

Morton says the panel interview process is another distinguishing feature of the REINSW Awards for Excellence.

“It gives the judges an opportunity to delve deeper with the entrant and really test their claims,” he says. “The fact that the judging process is so robust means that you don’t have to be an ‘insider’ to win. It’s definitely not ‘gongs for the boys’.”

A winning submission

So how do entrants in the 2019 REINSW Awards for Excellence write a winning submission? Morton says a winning submission can be written by following 10 simple steps:

  1. Plan ahead | Don't leave it until the last minute. When entries open, put together a project plan and appoint a central coordinator to keep everyone on track.
  2. Work together | Involve others in discussions about your submission. For agency awards, talk to your team. you'll be amazed by how enthusiastic they'll be and what they come up with. For individuals, talk to peers and clients for honest feedback.
  3. Answer the question | Sounds obvious, but you'd be surprised how many entrants don't actually do this. This is a one-way ticket to a low score. Ensure your answers are on point.
  4. Make sense | We're not all writers, so once you've put your draft together, ask someone to review it. A fresh pair of eyes can ensure your submission makes sense and answers the questions. it can also help reveal gaps.
  5. Be succinct | Just because the word count is 500, it doesn't mean you have to use all 500 words. If you're able to clearly answer the question in 300 words, leave it at that. Don't waffle.
  6. Fix the typos | Grammatical errors and typos reflect badly and make it hard for the judge to understand your answers. If you have access to a copywriter, ask them to review your submission. A professional touch can do wonders.
  7. Always provide examples | Make sure you don't just make sweeping statements. You have to back up your claims with practical examples demonstrating your experience and how you meet the criteria.
  8. Be honest | Don't stretch the truth. It's ok not to meet all the criteria for every question. Don't be afraid to explain why and outline the steps you're taking to meet them in the future.
  9. Reflect | Making a submission is an opportunity to assess your business practices. Sit down with your team and discuss any areas of weakness identified as a result or preparing your submission. Also take the time to congratulate your team on successes.
  10. Don't give up | If you're not announced as a finalist or winner, don't be discouraged. Enter next year and keep trying. Try contacting the winner in your category and ask them a few questions or ask for feedback from REINSW.

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