Insight

It’s the taking part that counts

How to make the most of professional awards

The awards season has come to an end and we have been reflecting on the highs and lows – and reminding ourselves of how to do it well.  Here are our top tips.

Why?

A question we ask often. Why? What are you hoping to achieve? How will you know if your investment has paid off? What will you do with it when (if) you get it? Importantly, is the work you’re entering worthy of an award? Creating a winning award submission is hard work and needs to be worth the effort.

In the words of one of our team, “if it’s award-worthy, the submission writes itself – the hard work lies in collating the evidence”.

Which?

But also, why this award? Do you want to be judged by your clients or by your peers? Most importantly, which awards do your clients value the most?  The right “best in class” award will lift you above the competition and can be the difference between securing that new piece of work or not.

How much?

To the disappointment of many, entering for professional awards is not free.  Don’t just look at the entry fee – you should also consider the costs of:

  • Creating the submission. Copy writing, graphic design, print, video. What are they asking for and what would make a winning entry?
  • Being judged. Is there a site visit, interview or judging day to allow for?
  • Attending the awards dinner itself. Just a couple of tickets for the team, or a whole table and some clients? Plus travel, drinks, hotels…

We recently entered a client for an award (having considered all the above, obviously), and we were met with one hidden cost after another as well as requests from the organisers for more and more contributions.  Our favourite was, “Please will you write us a 500 word article that we might use if you win”.  This free-to-enter award ended up costing our client thousands of pounds, to be one of over a hundred shortlisted.

Who?

What kind of people usually win this award – are you happy being judged against them? Who is on the judging panel – are you happy being judged by them? Always take a good look at the panel and see who you know: what are they inspired by, what do they talk about on social media, what interests them? Imagine your submission is a conversation between you, a judge and a competitor. What would you say?

When?

Keep a close eye on the timings. Yes, most awards organisers will extend the deadline – but get your entry in early if you can. When will the shortlist be announced and then the winners? Get these dates in your calendar so you can be ready to jump on the social media conversation and book your tickets at the dinner.

Amplify

This is where the taking part really counts: you don’t need to be a winner to get value from entering an award.

  • Get to know the organisers and the judging panel. If this is the first time they’ve seen your brand, think of it as warming them up for next year’s awards.
  • Social media, social media, social media. Be proud of your submission, delighted to be shortlisted with your peers, waiting for the announcement with bated breath, astounded to win. Congratulate the other participants, share elements of your submission, engage in the conversation.
  • Use the submission document for other purposes. A detailed case study, some good statistics for your website, client testimonials and more.

Awards organisers LOVE people who engage with them on social media and support their campaign: they are always looking for good content.

And remember. An award is for life, not just a brief social media window. Tell your clients about it. Add the badge to your email signatures, brochure, proposals…

Be patient

Becoming an award-winning company takes time. It’s incremental. And it’s not an end in itself.

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