Five Fatal Flaws’ of award submission: How to avoid disqualification

In the News

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! It’s time to start digging for your best, award winning material of the year! Sure, we could wait until just before the deadline and most of us do. In January 2021, nearly a third of all entries were created in the last 24 hours before the deadline. Last year that number jumped to almost 40 percent!

We work in a business that never stops and thriving under pressure is what we do! However, these “last minute” submissions traditionally have the highest rate of disqualification. The awards committee is here to refresh your memory and help avoid the “Five Fatal Flaws” to maximize your 2023 wins.

As a reference, the general submission standards are as follows:

  • All entries must have originated on air or published between Jan. 1 and Dec. 31, 2022, with the key word being “originated.” For example, an on-air promo or commercial running Dec. 31, 2021 through Jan. 1, 2022 would not qualify but the same type of content running Dec. 31, 2022 through Jan. 1, 2023 would
  • If your station is a music station or a News/Talk station, the entries must be in one category or the other. No cross overs permitted.
  • Any entry, either TV or radio, must be primarily produced by your station, not created by an outside agency. However, the submission may include content from an outside outlet if provided in a supplemental or supportive role.
  • Video entries must be uploaded via Vimeo or Youtube and submitted as a link. Audio entries must be uploaded via Soundcloud and submitted as a link.
  • When scripts are required, the entry must be received in PDF format and limited to one page. Do NOT submit a PDF attachment unless required for the category.
  • Time limits are strictly enforced!
  • For Social and Digital Media content, the entry must showcase a product of the station entering. Websites with the majority of its content coming from an outside agency are NOT eligible for entry.
  • Social and Digital entries must also provide a URL link to the live website. The site must be live at the time of judging.
  • Entry attachments are allowed to include text and photo only. Links and embedded video are not permitted.
  • The limit of entries is two per station in each of the categories (unless noted otherwise).
  • A specific entry can only be submitted in ONE category. The exception is that portions of submissions in the “Compilation” categories can be submitted in other categories).

Now, the simplest and easiest ways to avoid the dreaded disqualification…

  • Double check your dates. Again, be sure the material originated between Jan. 1, 2022 and Dec. 31, 2022.
  • Time limits! We cannot emphasize time limits enough. The limit allows no room for slack. If the limit is 5 minutes, 5:01 will get you cut. Be especially cognizant if that one second is silence at the beginning or end of your clip.
  • Remember the two entries per category (per station) limit.
  • More is not always better. If the category does not call for a PDF document, do not add one!
  • Read category descriptions carefully to ensure you include all materials and meet all qualifications: time, materials to include, etc.
  • Pay close attention to this year’s changes, which can be found in detail in the 2022 rule book.

Avoiding the five fatal flaws of entry submission:

  1. Over time: Check and double check entry length. We advise aiming for a length a few seconds short of the maximum. The greatest disappointment is submitting competitive work and losing out because the audio or video was a few seconds too long. The time that the file shows is what counts, even if the content is within the time constraints and the extra few seconds come from silence at the front or back end. If a timeline opens up at 15:01, that’s enough to face disqualification.
  2. Multiple Entry Violation: Many features can fit into multiple categories, but you cannot submit this single segment to more than one category. Make sure you find the best category fit for each. Exception: portions of submissions in the “Compilation” categories may also be submitted to other categories.
  3. No Script, No Video: If one or both are required, the category requirements section will note this. Also watch for “Submit script, but no narrative allowed.” Any deviation of this results in disqualification.
  4. Three Day Requirement Failure: Certain categories, including Best Sportscast and Best Weather Coverage, ask for three complete segments from three different days. An entry with three segments from one or two days will be disqualified.
  5. Bad Links: A few errors to watch for here…A handful of disqualifications last year simply came from broken web links. Additionally, if the category requires a link to the broadcast itself, a mere link to the homepage of the website will not suffice. A Youtube link on a broadcast entry will also get you cut.

Avoiding disqualifications may seem tedious and overwhelming, but the bottom line is to follow the “Requirements” section in the category to a tee. Starting to find your submissions now, rather than within the “last minute” 24-hour window, prevents oversights on these completely avoidable errors.

The window for online entries is Dec. 1 and we can’t wait to hear from you soon!

Heather Storm
WBA Awards Committee