How to win a British, Irish or Australian Podcast Award

A guide to making your entry stand out from the crowd

Most podcasters are motivated by a desire to create or a love for the medium of podcasting, rather than by fame and accolades - but it's still nice to be recognised for outstanding achievement in the field of podcast creation. The British, Irish and Australian Podcast Awards are designed to celebrate that success, as well as the people that make the industry such a vibrant and exciting place to be.

They're also an excellent way to get more audience awareness for your show. Winners of a British, Irish or Australian Podcast Award are routinely covered across the wider media landscape, and one of the great benefits of the Podcast Awards is that they give smaller networks or independent podcasters the opportunity to get their shows recognised alongside big-name brands.

However, putting together an awards entry that will really wow the judges can be a daunting proposition, especially for those that may not have submitted entries for similar schemes in the past. To give entrants to the awards a bit more insight into things like what to put in their submissions and what the judges are looking for, we put together a short PodPod miniseries, where editor Adam Shepherd is joined by the awards’ co-founders Matt Hill and Matt Deegan (as well as a number of special guests) to dissect what it takes to win one of those coveted trophies.

[Editor's note: While this miniseries refers to the British Podcast Awards throughout, the processes and advice discussed are equally applicable to the Irish and Austalian Podcast Awards as well.]

While larger, more established podcast publishers may have dedicated marketing professionals on staff whose job it is to create and submit entries for multiple awards, there are some subtle tips and tricks that solo podcasters may not be familiar with. The first is to make sure that you follow all the rules for crafting your submission. This may sound obvious, but the judges need to look for ways to decide between a large number of submissions, and an entry that exceeds the maximum length is an easy one to remove from the running. 

In addition to meeting the eligibility criteria for the awards, your submission needs to consist of both a text and audio component. The audio element consists of one continuous MP3 or WAV file with a maximum length of 15 minutes, collating between three and five clips from at least three different episodes published between 1 January 2022 and 30 April 2023. 

There are a few exceptions to the above criteria: entries for the Best Interview category can include anything from one to five clips, and entries for the Best Documentary and Best Fiction categories can include a minimum of two clips, or one 30-minute extract. Submissions for the latter two categories can also be up to 30 minutes long, to reflect their more in-depth nature.

This should be accompanied by a tracklisting with a list of all the clips you’ve used (and their timecodes) along with a short description of what the clip is about, and any relevant trigger warnings. The text entry, meanwhile, is a 250-word passage explaining why your podcast deserves to win your chosen category. This is a good place to highlight any particularly impressive milestones you’ve hit and how you’ve achieved your goals, with a focus on why this year has been notably successful for you. You can also talk about how the podcast has been received by the audience, or how it’s been used to support a wider strategy.

There are a few key dos and donts to bear in mind. For the audio, you can’t do any additional editing or production beyond linking the clips together with fade-ins and fade-outs. That means no clipping out long pauses within clips or tidying up uneven levels, and no flashy transitions between the clips themselves. You also can’t add any audio that’s not part of a clip, so adding your theme music or a voiceover explaining what the clip is about will count towards your total allocation. 

This, however, is where the tracklisting can come into play. The wordcount for the tracklisting is 250 words - the same as for the text submission - giving you plenty of room to add context to each clip, emphasising why it was particularly impressive or what impact it had after release. This can be a great way to make your entry stand out to judges, which isn’t always an easy task.

The British, Irish and Australian Podcast Awards receive hundreds of entries every year, and selecting the winners is a mammoth undertaking. Once entries close, the submissions for each category are put through an initial scoring round, where a pool of more than a hundred judges listen to the entries and award scores in three categories: the audio quality, the impact it had, and the freshness of the perspective. These scores are then averaged out to create a long-list, which then goes to the final-round judges to select the winners.

Remember that the judges have to go over dozens (if not hundreds) of entries, and they’re looking for submissions that stand out from the pack. That could be through a highly original format, good use of sound design, or simply a thoughtful and unique perspective on an engaging topic. You should also make sure to tailor your entry to the category you’re submitting it for, though, even if you’re putting the same podcast forward for multiple categories. The things that make a good news programme aren’t necessarily the same things that mark out an award-winning comedy show, but it’s entirely possible to win both categories with one podcast if you emphasise the right aspects for each entry.

Get it right, and your podcast could take home the gold in multiple categories - as George The Poet found out at 2019’s British Podcast Awards, when he walked away with five gongs for his show, Have You Heard George's Podcast? Winning an award can be an outstanding tool for increasing your podcast’s listeners, but it can also open new doors for you, whether that’s opportunities to launch new shows, interest from commercial partners and advertisers, or simply a greater ability to persuade high-profile guests to join you for an episode.