It’s awards season and that means finding out if all of the hard work earlier in the year was worthwhile or if you have to sit tight and wait until next year to submit again. It also means finding a different dress for each event but I’ll save that fiasco for another blog. FYI: Quiz at Junction 32 is my ‘go to’ for all the ladies out there that are struggling – you’re welcome, always happy to help!
Anyhow, back to the blog in hand, it can be a nerve-wracking time, not least because as well as our own time – which has to be allocated to the research, copy writing and submissions process – we require input from the client and often their wider teams.
The awards process, depending on which you choose and usually if they are regional or national – isn’t always straight forward. As well as 1,000 words you can also be required to provide supplementary evidence to support your entry, along with the obligatory photographs and biog about the business or individual you are nominating.
What is great about putting submissions together is that you learn so much about the companies that you work with. Being responsible for the reputation of a business often means that you have access to information that others may not, but when it comes to awards you get a real insight into the great and good.
Just recently I was putting together some copy for a client and it was a real reminder of what a difference this individual had made. When we were looking at the facts and figures, it was quite astounding and thankfully the judges thought so too as Geoff Shepherd, the founding director of iSource Group and the Yorkshire Mafia, won the Judges Special Award at the Institute of Directors Awards last month.
Why bother when you’ve got a business to run
Interestingly, there are three types of client; those that want to enter as many awards as they can, those that prefer to be more selective and those that don’t want anything to do with them.
I never really understand the latter and I’ll explain why.
Awards take time and if you want to put together the strongest entry possible then they can be hard work but the rewards, in my opinion, outweigh this time and time again. Not only are the events a great way to bring together a team – and in particular those that may not work together day to day – but they also deliver credibility by association.
It’s not all about dressing up and having too many glasses of fizz, the impact of awards is evident long after the event is over.
As an agency we never do anything without it having a purpose and meeting with an objective and when it comes to awards it’s about building profile and also an employer brand. Awards are often an indication that a business is doing well, and that attracts talent.
People want to work for a business that is trusted and respected in the market and awards are often a great way of showcasing the quality of the products and services that a company delivers. Furthermore, most nominations are independently judged, making it all the more exciting when your submission is successful.
I’m very pleased at this point to say that we have an excellent success rate when it comes to awards and you would probably hope that this was the case given that it’s part of our day job but not every entry makes it to the stage and that can be crushing, especially when you know the team is deserving of the recognition.
What always surprises me is that way that people respond. It differs from business to business, but I have to admit those that really embrace the moment and show their excitement without compromise are those I enjoy most.
We are often asked to attend the awards with clients – which is a lovely gesture and not something we take for granted – but one occasion that stands out to me was when Paragon ID won the Yorkshire Post Excellence in Business Awards in the Turnaround category.
The team just didn’t see it coming and their collective reaction was simply joyous. It was a pleasure to be with them, although the headache the next day wasn’t quite so welcomed.
What awards to enter
You can enter any awards that you want but we always question what the objective is.
Some people enter everything and for me that devalues the return you will get. If you will go to the opening of an envelope, or as I’ve experienced recently, if someone says you’ve won an award and all you need to do is pay for the ‘silverware’ then it’s probably not going to add any value.
I had a client say that anything could be on a piece of glass – even an award for getting out of bed on a morning – and people never check so assume it’s for something impressive, but my argument was why would you need to do that if you believe in the products and services that you are offering.
When choosing awards you should follow five simple steps:
- Review the categories and see if there is one that would fit your business
- Take the time to look over past winners, this will give you an indication of those that have been successful in the past, their size and scale
- Consider if you have the time and resource required to submit a winning entry
- Think carefully about who will be in the room; clients, prospects or competitors
- Put objectives in place so that awards serve a purpose. It could be simply to build profile in a given location, to give your brand a national platform, to commend performance or to attract talent.
It’s also worth noting that some awards come at a cost – not just the events but the actual submissions – so this should be a further consideration. Without being negative, you need to decide if you can afford to lose that budget if you are not shortlisted.
You’re a winner, shout about it
It’s really frustrating when you put the effort into a great award submission, your client is successful and then you hear nothing more about it. Companies don’t enter awards to keep their success a secret – they do it to gain the recognition they feel they deserve, so when you win shout about it.
Make sure that you make the most of the opportunity. There are a number of ways you can do this including:
- Draft a press release to announce that you have been named ‘great business of the year’ and share it with your local and trade media. Remember that many awards are hosted by media and they consider other publications to be competitors so won’t cover a story about a rival medium.
- Share an update on your website and extend this across social media.
- Create some owned content and ‘interview’ someone that attended and capture their thoughts and feelings. This can add personality and also give someone who doesn’t often get the chance an opportunity to share their thoughts.
- Put a footer on your emails to make people aware that you were shortlisted or that you won. This is a really subtle way of capturing attention and a constant reminder to everyone you engage with that you have been commended and recognised for your work.
Don’t take them too seriously
Awards are great, but people can take them too seriously. It’s important to practice your ‘game face’ when you attend awards and not take it too personally if you don’t get the result that you were hoping for. There is always next year, and it can take a couple of attempts to finally get your hands on that trophy.
If you do find that you have been pipped to the post, it’s always a good idea to congratulate the winner. You never know, in some instances they could be a prospective customer and thanks to the award submission you now have something in common.