Over the years, members of the Council of Fellows jury have shared their insights into what leads to successful nominations. Here are some tips for preparing the best nominations possible:
Keep it simple and follow the directions.
Don’t be afraid—you can do this. The nominations process has been simplified and streamlined. There are templates and sample nominations. Staff is available to answer questions and give advice.
Focus on the category criteria.
The best way to draw the jury's attention is by providing a clear look at the nominee’s best, most significant achievements in relation to the category in which he/she has been nominated. Highlight up front in the first and second paragraphs what makes the candidate unique and outstanding in the category and make the case throughout the narrative. Include national and regional/local awards from ASLA but also from relevant, allied organizations (e.g. AIA, APA, ULI). Awards from other organizations show the nominee's role in advancement and public recognition of the profession. Recognition does not have to be awards, it could be evidence that nominee is viewed as an expert in the field—speaking engagements, invitations to sit on juries, etc.
Resist the temptation to include things that don’t apply to the category criteria. As Mies said, less is more.
Use action verbs that show the nominee’s leadership: directed, organized, led, advocated, managed, accomplished, achieved, succeeded, attained, mentored, investigated, demonstrated, and so on. Becoming a Fellow is one of the highest honors a landscape architecture professional may achieve; use adjectives that communicate how special the nominee is.
Use brief testimonial statements to underscore recognition of the nominee’s achievements. The testimonials should refer to knowledge of specific achievements and abilities in the narrative, avoid using generally-worded references. Do not limit testimonials to ASLA members; seek statements from clients, allied professionals, and public officials for diversity and to demonstrate the nominee’s influence beyond the profession. ASLA past presidents and officers should use their business affiliation not their ASLA affliation in the testimonials.
Use the required template.
A required template is provided based on jury recommendations for nomination presentations. Write the body of the nomination, starting with a strong opening statement or executive summary that summarizes the accomplishments of the individual in relation to the category of nomination and immediately identifies why the candidate is exceptional. Compile the lists (honors and awards, professional leadership activities, publications/research, etc.) on the left hand column and place them in order of importance according to the nomination category, (e.g. for the works category, place honors/awards towards the beginning of the form). Within each list, organize each event (e.g., awards, experience) in chronological order from most recent to oldest and always include the year associated with the event. Fit the content into the form after all the parts are assembled.
Neatness counts. And so does grammar.
Run spell-check and grammar-check, because typos reflect poorly on the nominee and distract the jury. Have a third party read the nomination (and photo captions for Works nominations) before it’s submitted, just in case.
In general, do not capitalize the words “landscape architect” or “landscape architecture” unless they are in a headline.
Refrain from including overused words such as "tirelessly" and "relentlessly."
Follow the guidelines for typeface: use an easily readable typeface, such as Times Roman, Garamond, or Arial, no smaller than 10-point size, for all text. Do not use a smaller font to fit in more material. The jurors read over 90 nominations and notice when a smaller font is used. Make your submission as clear to read as possible.
Works category: images are key.
The best narrative in the world can't make up for poor photography/images in the Works category. All images should reflect design excellence. Make sure the images are clear and well organized and identified to support the nomination. Do not include images in the Powerpoint that are not discussed in the narrative statement. Consider updating old photography if possible--it makes a difference. If an image is a photoshopped construction, label it as such. Do not make the jury wonder if they are looking at a built project or not.
If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.
If the nomination isn't successful this year, don't give up—review the jury comments, make the suggested revisions, and resubmit it next year. Many Fellows will tell you that they weren’t selected on their first or even second nomination. Keep a copy of the nomination so that you don't have to re-create work you have already produced.