Planning May 2017

Stand Up and Be Recognized!

Top Tips for Writing a Compelling Award Nomination

Tip 1

The Write Stuff.

Your award nomination is an opportunity to shine a national spotlight on your planning efforts and inspire great planning. It all starts with a strong written nomination. Here are a few tips to make yours stand out:

Tell Your Planning Story.

Keep in mind that many on the awards jury are learning about your planning efforts or nominee for the first time. They are relying on your words and examples to "see" what makes your nomination exceptional. Use specific and detailed examples that show how the person, plan, or planning effort is innovative, has engaged the community in planning, has addressed a community need, and can inspire other planners.

Be Clear and Concise.

Each narrative piece of the nomination has a strict word limit, so make every word and sentence count.

Provide a True Summary.

Every nomination requires a summary at the beginning. Use this section to provide a complete synopsis of the nomination. You will have the opportunity to provide further detail elsewhere in the nomination.

Avoid Repetition.

Each nomination has three to five narrative sections that address each award category's specific criteria. To maximize the space available, provide the jurors with unique information within each narrative section. This is your opportunity to delve into the specifics of your planning work and how it meets each criterion.

Emphasize Your Results.

Measurable results are a key element of a winning nomination. The jury always looks for evidence that the nominated effort has achieved its goals. So make sure that you fully demonstrate clear, measurable outcomes that illustrate how planning has made a difference in your community.

Tip 2

Time It Right.

Before submitting your nomination, ask yourself if the timing is right. Can you show tangible results or outcomes from your planning efforts and its true benefit and impact on the community? It is not uncommon for the jury to request that the nomination be resubmitted at a later date, once the planning effort has had more time to mature.

Tip 3

Put in the Time and Effort.

A National Planning Award nomination is not something that can be assembled and completed in an hour. Take your time drafting your narrative and identifying the best images and materials as support for your nomination. Identify the strongest planning advocates for your letters of support. Each piece of a nomination — all of its components — are reviewed and considered extensively by the awards jury.

Tip 4

A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Words.

Each award nomination requires five images. This is an opportunity to visually communicate your planning effort to the jury. Use your images to illustrate the level of community engagement, illustrate community members enjoying the outcomes of the planning effort, and illustrate how planning has transformed an area.

As you select images, use photos that reinforce and build upon the written narrative portion of your nomination. Allow the images to continue to tell your planning story.

Tip 5

Supplement Your Nomination.

Further enrich your nomination by providing the jury with supplemental materials about your planning efforts. Be judicious about the items to include. Provide additonal materials that will allow the jury to really delve into your work. For example, if you are nominating a specific project, a copy of your plan or design guidelines is a must. Other examples might include press clips, marketing materials, or even video links. Another tip: Name the supplemental files or links so that they clearly indicate what the item is.

Tip 6

Size Does Not Matter.

No jurisdiction is too small to submit an award nomination. Innovative planning is happening in communities and regions both large and small. Don't let the size of your community prevent you from submitting a nomination. The jury is looking for innovative, replicable planning efforts from all over the country.

Where Do Award Nominations Come From? (2013–2017). Over the last five years, the highest percentage of total nominations have come from California (23 percent), followed by eight percent from Texas, and six percent each from Florida and New York. The awards jury would love to see a greater diversity in nominations.

Tip 7

Make It Happen.

We've given you the tips and tools to create a nomination that stands out. Now it's up to you.

Is there a planning effort or pioneer you'd like to nominate for a National Planning Award?

The nomination period for the 2018 National Planning Awards is slated for August 16– September 8, 2017.

Learn more about each award and judging criteria at