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Belfast Telegraph Business Awards 2022: ‘Keep your entry focused while telling a great story’, says Prof Mark Durkin

Prof Mark Durkin, chair of the judging panel for this year’s competition, offers some advice


Professor Mark Durkin of Ulster University’s Business School

Professor Mark Durkin of Ulster University’s Business School

Professor Mark Durkin of Ulster University’s Business School

Entries for the 2022 Belfast Telegraph Business Awards in partnership with Ulster Bank should aim to tell a great story while sticking to the word count and avoiding jargon, the chair of the judging panel has said.

Professor Mark Durkin, executive dean of the Ulster University Business School, is leading a panel of 14 judges from the business world, including the local heads of the Chamber of Commerce and Institute of Directors.

Prof Durkin said entries had grown more diverse and innovative over the last two years, pointing to the entrepreneurialism and resilience of business here.

He urged would-be entrants to take a targeted approach by applying to the category which resonates most with them, and to back up their applications with examples.

“I, along with the judging panel, want to particularly emphasize the need for evidence-based entries showing clear qualitative and quantitative business outcomes,” he said.

“Assuming you have all the relevant stats and evidence gathered, constructing the entry requires planning and focus.

“Choose your category wisely. Focus on what you are most proud of and choose the category which will best allow you to talk about it.

“Tell a great story. Like a writer, your story should have a beginning, middle and end, with interesting detail along the way.”

And he added entrants should display personality and convey what makes their business unique.

“Be quirky, funny, serious, and write in a way that takes the reader on a journey that allows them to truly understand where you have come from, and what you have achieved,” he said.

“Read the small print. Some categories will have specific criteria which you need to meet.

“Give yourself enough time. Putting together a great award entry takes effort and time.”

Entrants should be open about the bad as well as the good.

He added: “A lot of people are afraid to admit the things that went wrong, thinking that this might decrease their chances of winning.

“But it’s how you coped with the problems and setbacks that is important, and that could make your entry stand out from the rest.”

And he urged applicants to keep their entries focused, and write using punchy sentences and with only the relevant information included.

“Bullet points and bolding can help to make your point and ensure easy reading,” he said.

“Avoid clichés and marketing/business jargon; keep content succinct by writing in plain English.

“Explain exactly what you did, why you did it, and the real business results at the end.

“Stick to the word count. It’s there for a reason. Select what you write carefully and only include your strongest examples.”

He said entries should also be proof-read so that mistakes could be spotted by someone bringing a fresh eye.

“Whatever the outcome, the process of preparing an awards entry is a valuable exercise allowing businesses to consider and evaluate work, its impact and take pride in a job well done. Good luck to everyone who puts forward an entry submission.”

The Belfast Telegraph Business Awards 2022 in partnership with Ulster Bank were launched last week.

Entrants across 15 categories are urged to get their applications in by the closing date of April 11. A new category of Climate Recognition, and a Food and Drink category, have been added this year.

Judging is due to take place at the end of April.

An awards ceremony will be held in Belfast’s Crowne Plaza Hotel on May 26.


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