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Navigating the Shortlisting Process

Getting on the APG shortlist is a simple business. You just need to have a good strategic idea. No really, it’s that simple. No secrets, no tricks, no alchemy. But you would be surprised quite how many people have had a great strategy, and then managed to obscure it in the paper. They over-complicate, they obfuscate, and sometimes they forget to say what the strategic idea was. And why it was so clever. But if you have a good strategic idea, you’re fine. And then you need to do some more thinking. Because of course ‘good’ isn’t quite good enough. The papers we will shortlist won’t just be highly professional, with a strategy that pleases your client and builds the business. The papers we shortlist will need to have something a little bit special about them, something that elevates them above ‘good’. It could be an unusual way of looking at the business problem, an insightful definition of the target audience, or a great idea that goes much further than communication. Or maybe it’s special in a way that we haven’t seen yet, and can’t predict.

In short, to get on the shortlist, you really need a strategy for your strategy. As Lawrence Freedman told us at the APG Strategy Conference earlier in 2014, great strategy is the art of getting more out of a situation than the in-going balance of power would suggest. Your in-going balance of power is you versus 100 plus other papers whose authors’ hopes are as high as yours. The in-going balance of power suggests that you won’t be shortlisted. So how are you going to make sure that you beat the odds? How can you make the jury realise that your paper is better than most of the others? How are you planning to stand out from the crowd? What is your strategy to get shortlisted? You have to have a good strategy to get shortlisted. And to get shortlisted, you also need a great shortlisting strategy.

Craig Mawdsley


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