Have you thought about putting in an application for an industry award or competition? Keen to add something to your company’s ‘trophy cabinet’?
Most major industries will have a governing, regulatory or advocacy organisation that organises annual awards, often accompanied by a conference and awards dinner or ceremony. For us comms people, it’s the PRINZ awards held each year alongside the annual conference, but if you’re in tourism it might be the Qualmark awards or Dairy Woman of the Year for those in dairy farming.
Entries for business and industry awards often require an award application, and some can require quite extensive information and reporting. This can often make the process sound daunting, and you may question why put the time and effort in (and it will require both!), when there’s no guarantee of a pay-off (winning).
So why enter?
We firmly believe awards are worth the time, and it comes down to what PR is all about: reputation. The recognition that comes with an award gives you a third-party endorsement (with the awarding organisation’s own strong reputation behind it), and the increased credibility that comes with that backing.
Being a finalist or a winner gives you an opportunity for publicity and media stories, and to talk about your business in a more authentic, non-salesy way. Winning an award can also help attract business and repeat clients – people are attracted to leaders and those seen as the best in the business.
How to make your application a GREAT one
Remember to read the application carefully; answer the questions being asked. You need to address them specifically and don’t waffle!
This is not the time to be shy; talk about the great things you have done. Whatever you are saying you’ve accomplished, back it up with stats and facts. Show the proof.
Make sure it is well-written. Judges are busy people and a sloppy application is not going to make a good impression. The content is one part of the application but the way it is written is extremely important. No spelling or grammatical errors, make sure it’s succinct, use simple language, headings and bullet points are important.
Making the most of entering awards
Take charge of your own publicity (or ask HMC for help). Don’t assume the organisation doing the awards will do enough to highlight your finalist position or win.
If the organisation announces finalists, that is a trigger for you to announce this yourself. If you are a finalist, ensure you prepare your communications BEFORE the awards take place. Have a media release prepared, social media posts (and advertising campaign), website news story, even an advert developed and ready to place (again, we can help with all of this).
Think about how you will maximise the announcement (if it happens) on your earned, owned and paid channels available to you.
Why prepare all this beforehand? Because it has most ‘news legs’ the morning after/day after an award ceremony. Talking about it a few days later will not gain as much cut through.
This is so important. Make sure you get a photo on the night that is media-worthy.
Get a group shot of the winning team and a close up of one or a few smiling faces. A group of 20 people holding an award doesn’t work for media. Ensure you supply names of the people in the photo too.
Think ahead of time about what sort of photo you require and put someone in charge of getting it on the night.
Consider things like lighting, composition and ensure the file size is at least 1MB for good print reproduction. Smartphones can take great, well-lit shots now, just ensure you supply the original – not a copied version from your Facebook page.
Research and diarise
Now you have the information you need to get you started – look around and see what industry awards are coming up and get prepared. Make a calendar of key awards you or your staff make want to enter in the coming year.
Put this in your communications strategy for the year and be sure to enter (and give yourself enough time to do so). It can take time but the results of receiving an industry accolade or acknowledgement is worth its weight in PR gold!