During the last four years, I have participated many times in the world’s leading contests with the projects created by my agency Luka, winning victory laurels more than ten times. Journalists have often asked me after our victories and the reason for our success. I usually joke that I am on familiar terms with the stars above, but really, aside from a great project and my confidence that only a potential winner’s work is worth submitting to contests, there is still some homework to be done for your work to stand out among hundreds of other projects.
This year, I also had the honour to participate as a member of the Eventex Awards jury, where I could look at the works submitted already, not through the prism of a participant, but of the jury. And do you know what the conclusion was? Exactly the same mistakes I saw the competitors make, I also saw in the works submitted by many contestants, only now, I evaluated them as a jury member. Here are the classic mistakes and how they can be avoided.
the stage of idea development and creation. The local target audience that will be addressed, as well as the local problem, is thought of, but when submitting works to world contests, the participants forget that they will be evaluated by an international jury, which will not just compare works with each other, but will also follow their own experience, expectations, what they have seen and evaluated before, some of them even for decades.
Therefore, even if the project is created for the local market, it must integrate global problems currently relevant for the world, so that there are no things in the work that bring value only in the local market or solutions which have been replicated many times. Last but not least, these global values should be thought of not at the time of developing the contest application, but at the idea creation level.
There are hundreds of definitions of innovation, but what they all have in common is that it is a new, never-seen-before way, even thinking of how to present or solve actually extremely common problems. I also, when evaluating the innovation and creativity section, wanted to see solutions that would make me wow, jump to my feet clapping loudly, or grab my hair puzzling in confusion over how you could devise something so never-seen-before and why it wasn’t me.
However, contestants often go to extremes, specifying the participation of world-renowned pop stars in the event, the length of LED screens, or even such insignificant things as printed napkins. The fact that the organisers have the financial ability to hire one of the world’s pop stars is a testament to their budget size rather than their innovative thinking. In turn, if a star were to be persuaded to perform free of charge, this is when I would want to shout, hey, I want to hear how you achieved that.
A project, however, doesn’t always have to be big to make an impact, and it certainly can’t be done anymore with the number of floodlights, the size of the stage, or the composition of the artists. Sometimes a project is very small, but the ability of organisers to connect the form of the event with the values encoded in the content really calls for deep respect. Innovation is not always just a new product or technology. Innovation can also be a method, technique, or strategy used to obtain a better result.
Any event requires a serious investment. Therefore, nowadays, a rare event is created with the purpose of simply entertaining the public. An event is very often just a tool to solve a problem, change public attitude, promote awareness, reputation, image, or recognisability. Sometimes an event can create changes even at the socio-political level.
However, sometimes contestants, when submitting their projects, specify the goal of making a good party. Of course, “paper does not blush”, but with this definition, their specific work will automatically take a back seat to those who have thought about how to use the event as a communication tool to change the world into a better place for the entire society to live together.
Any project has achieved results. They are especially important in the context of the stated goal. However, in many contest works, submitters simply specify feedback in the results, which is neither measurable nor considered an indicator to take into account.
It would be desirable to evaluate the project both formatively (statistics, surveys, focus groups, etc.) and at the process level (management efficiency, insights for overcoming social and structural obstacles) to the overall efficiency of the project. (Cognitive, attitude behavioural change results that tend to change in proportion to such factors as information dose, high-quality news exposure, integration of mass and interpersonal communication.). If a fundamental goal is integrated into the event, but only the feedback of the contestant is provided in the results, this will automatically cause the evaluation to be reduced, at least in a certain category, because there is simply a lack of information to evaluate it.
If the contestant has written the application in a hurry, you can tell it immediately. Often, even the same text is copied in applications of two fundamentally different categories.
Then, there is the question of videos. Although the regulations of the contest do not set it as mandatory, there are categories, for example, the category of technologies, where, from a judge's perspective, a video is highly advisable. The category name itself defines it. Of course, one video cannot save the entire project, and involving a professional team in its creation will not be sufficient, because primarily the project will be highlighted by its idea, however, if the content is excellent, the presence of video will only help.
In turn, from practice, I would recommend to devote several weeks to the project application, in addition, to scrupulously evaluate the category in which to submit the work, its relevance to the project, as well as the evaluation criteria. At the same time trying to “step into the shoes of the jury”, analysing for yourself what they would like to see, what are the potential questions which I could answer already from the application, how not to leave free space for interpretation of the project. It is no less important to submit all requested information as much as possible and not just a few sentences, assuming that the rest can be guessed between the lines. While sometimes less is more, sometimes a little really is way too little.
In the age of technology in which we live, one of the biggest challenges is the ability to evoke true emotions in the audience – excitement, touchingness, desire to give and help, desire to act. However, technologies are often used as an end in itself rather than to better highlight an idea, where technology is a part of the necessities of developing a concept. Workers in the event industry must understand that there are no good or bad technologies. There are only those suitable or unsuitable for highlighting a specific idea, creating specific feelings. Our task is to do everything so that the event becomes an event at the level of a specific person and possibility, even nations.
I have heard many times not only how the contestants strategically calculate which category would be not the most suitable for the work, but which would have the least possible number of competitors. Also, there is a lot of discussion about whether it is worth creating something truly innovative, which is likely to have many opponents. After all, man is a conservative being and does not like changes. As a result, when developing events, a stable, predictable, and preferably response-calculating event is voted for.
I don’t want to agree with the mentioned statements, because in order to promote creative thinking, one needs to get rid of creative death – don’t stand out from the crowd, be practical, there is only one solution, I can’t afford to make a mistake, and so on. Such phrases kill creative thinking on the vine.
Of course, it takes a lot of courage to create untraditional, original ideas. I even have a saying that experience eats courage for breakfast. Because with years, with a lot of experience, we are no longer ready to implement dull ideas. We have something to lose – status, name, company, reputation, money. But courage is the only way to success. The only way to create a world we all strive to build.
Inese Lukaševska is an internationally recognized communication expert with more than 20 years of experience in marketing, event production, and directing. Since 2019, her agency has won 8 times in the world's most prestigious competitions and won 13 awards in art and culture, as well as, internal communication categories, and has also been awarded with several "Oscars" of the events industry.
Inese Lukaševska is a frequent lecturer and is often referred to by the media as one of the most inspiring representatives of the industry.
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