The British Parking Awards are rightly regarded as the ‘Parking Oscars’, so I want to begin by making the point that whilst I was hugely honoured by each of the four awards that my various winning entries secured over the years, I have genuinely found it a higher honour in recent years to be a judge.
Just as you would hope, the assembled judging table has centuries of parking experience. Sharp-minded individuals who literally go back to the dawn of decriminalisation and who, collectively, have created the industry that we see today. And we are led by Mark Moran who, let us not ever forget, has devoted his life to analysing and presenting the actions and initiatives of our industry and, terrifyingly, has an encyclopaedic memory of it all!
What is most striking though about we disparate dinosaurs is our collective clear sense and passion for how our industry should be delivering our service in 2022. And the standards that it needs to hit. Address either one of those, better still both, and you are onto a winner.
But beyond that, I think there are five tips I would share:
1. Answer the examiner’s question
Each category has detailed descriptions of what an entry should address. Use them. You don’t have to, but you could do a lot worse than structuring your entry exactly under headings taken directly taken from the category description. It makes it easy for us judges to allocate points. And points make prizes.
2. Target acquisition
Write about one thing well. We regularly get entries that seem to just describe a load of things the company has done that year in the hope that the panel likes some of it and can somehow make it relevant to the category headings. Often there is, indeed, a pearl somewhere on the smorgasbord that could have been developed into a winner but it is lost and devalued by this ‘throw stuff at a wall’ approach. Entries like that don’t win prizes.
3. Don’t be complacent
Write or re-write your entry specifically for these awards: because you are up against some fierce competition. Some entrants spend thousands of pounds on outside agencies to write, design and illustrate their entries, often with professional supporting videos. But rest assured that we can see beyond all that and are interested in the substance of the entry not the wrapping. Equally though, there are some fundamentals such as: accurate spelling, freedom from typos, clear layout and helpful use of pictures that will boost your chances a lot if you apply this basic level of polish. And here I would suggest that good entries appear to me to always be team efforts, with a passionate author supported by colleagues who can give the basic entry both a thorough editorial review and a sprinkle with the stardust of layout and design.
4. Evidence your claims
Figures that show usage or growth are helpful. Tell us where your innovation has been deployed. If the local press featured it in an article, good or bad, include it as an appendix. Show us, in some way or other that it really happened, even if it is a “vox pop” video of your own granny saying something nice about it. In short – answer our question: Is rubber hitting the road?
5. Structure your entry
May I suggest a nice title page with a picture? Page 2 should then be a single page management summary. These two things are, for want of better words, teasing us with some intellectual foreplay. Then follow up with the main event: what the problem was, how it was solved and evidence of why the solution was successful. Then perhaps write a short and clear conclusion stating immodestly why you think this should win an award in 2022. A total of 10 pages tops, and ideally six or eight.
In summary, the judging panel loves our work and we delight in attending the event and seeing worthy winners with big smiles on their faces having won the ultimate accolade our industry can offer. We all want you to win. Help us help you and, on behalf of all the judges, let me wish you all the very best.
Harry Clarke is director of Arlander and was co-founder of RingGo
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