Product of the Year — Tips for a better entry

By Plant Engineering Staff December 22, 2005
Overview | Entry form (PDF) | Rules for entering
2007 Product of the Year / Tips for a better entry
Here are a few pointers to help you make sure your entry has the best possible chance of becoming a finalist — and a winner. These will help you avoid some of the problems we’ve seen in many years of competition.
1. Enter early. Each year, we receive some entries with a fatal flaw: some information is missing or misleading, the illustration is not suitable for publication, the entry form isn’t signed, etc. For early entries, we try to notify the entrant of the problem so it can be corrected. But as the entry deadline comes closer, time runs out. So entering early gives you a margin of safety.
2. Remember that judges review only the material you submit.
Our screening judges who select the 150 finalists from all of the entries make their evaluations only on the materials you send with your entry. You can’t expect them to have any knowledge of your specific product other than the information you send. So put your best foot forward, and include any and all information that will help them make an informed decision. Submitting video tapes, computer disks, or product samples won’t help, however, because the judges will be reviewing only printed materials.
3. Include Illustrations in brochures and most other preprinted materials can’t be used for publication in Plant Engineering magazine. And amateurish or poor-quality illustrations won’t make the impression you want — if they do get published. Even products that aren’t very colorful look better in a high-quality color photo than in black and white. And remember that we can’t do any touching up or other special processing; what you send is what we use. Digital files must be submmitted on CD, 300 dpi or higher; low-resolution jpg files are not acceptable. We will not accept submissions by email.
4. Emphasize the benefits and usefulness of your product. Just listing a lot of product specifications won’t help a judge who isn’t already intimately familiar with your product. Describe how the product’s features solve a real-world problem, save money, or offer advantages. And put this information right up front in your product description. If it’s buried several paragraphs down, a judge may not see it or realize its importance. Your job is to convince the judges that they should have your product in their plants. If your product is selected as a finalist, this information will help our editors prepare the published description. 5. Support claims with facts. Don’t just say your product is faster, better, more efficient, or easier to use; explain why and by how much.
6. Enter only products that are truly new, innovative, and useful.
Each year, we must disqualify some products that are just older products with a new coat of paint or have a different knob or are made from a different material. We’ve even had repeat entries of products that were entered in previous years. And there’s always someone who enters a ‘new’ product accompanied by a brochure that’s a couple of years old. Be sure to explain why your product qualifies as ‘new.’
7. Make sure your entry is complete. The rules are clear. Read them carefully, and double check that all required materials are included, that all information is provided, and that the official entry form is signed. Go to Rules .
8. Be honest. If the judges have reason to believe that you’ve provided any misleading or false information, your entry will be disqualified, no questions asked. Don’t invent introductory dates, names of divisions or subsidiaries, or any other information. Unless your company is the sole source for a product, don’t claim a product manufactured by someone else as your own.
9. Call if you have a question. We’ll be happy to provide you any assistance we can. We may not be able to give you a definitive answer — after all, we’re not the judges — but we can help with interpretation of the rules and many other questions you might have. Contact Pat Mustari at 630-288-8775.
10. Don’t ask for a deadline extension or other special considerations. There is adequate time for you to prepare your entry and send it to us before the deadline. And granting an extension or any other special consideration is unfair to those who respected the rules.
Send Entry Fee and all materials to:
Product of the Year
2000 Clearwater Drive
Oak Brook, IL 60523
Overview | Entry form Rules for entering