By Cassia House, PR Account Manager
In the last year alone the Goldings Communications team have written and applied for more than twenty awards on behalf of our clients and several hundred in our careers to date. With 90% of our entries reaching the finals and 80% of those winning an award we like to consider ourselves as experts in this field, with a great deal of insight and knowledge to share.
Many of our clients put off entering awards for years through fear of losing, being judged or simply not having the time, but we truly believe that you have nothing to lose by entering.
Applying for an award can be an incredibly useful process in helping you celebrate who you are as an organisation, how far you have come and where you are going, and there is so much to gain from the process.
In this blog, we’ll share some of our top tips on how to structure an award, think like a judge and use compelling evidence.
Why enter an award
Regardless of whether you win or not, entering an award can help raise your profile and showcase your brand, products and services to current and potential customers and key stakeholders.
Other benefits include:
Social proof – trust builds loyalty and loyalty builds business – it makes you credible, trustworthy and valuable and reassures customers that you’re worth doing business with.
Building your team – award wins help to recognise the work of your team and how dedicated, effective and skilful they are. You can also use this success to become a more attractive employer.
Supporting marketing strategy and plans – award applications provide a clear way of benchmarking against competitors whilst helping you to identify gaps and areas for growth. Winning an award can also result in other opportunities such as media appearances, speaking opportunities and increased business which you can shout about in your marketing messages.
Backing up your USPs – winning awards in the specific areas you excel in further builds credibility. People need shortcuts to know if you are any good at what you do and an award win is a fast way of showing people you’ve been independently judged and vetted.
Planning and strategy
Before you even think about entering an award you need to have a firm grasp on your award winnings USPs. This involves really understanding your business, its aims, values, impact etc. If you’ve ever done a SWOT analysis this can help objectively look at your business – identify your key strengths and opportunities and where you add the most value.
Your ‘why’ is also going to play an important part in developing your awards story. Think about how you use your personal values, unique experiences and vision for the future to make decisions and changes that will ultimately help your industry.
Keep your values and passion and pivotal moments in your head when thinking about your application.
Be honest – You need to be brutally honest with yourself when you chose your award category and play to your strengths. Also be mindful that judges are likely to Google you – what you say on social media for example can follow you around for a long time.
Choosing the right programme
Entering awards takes time – a lot more than you might think and so it’s vital to do your research.
Putting together a spreadsheet which includes the award opportunities, deadlines, costs and potential categories can make this process a lot easier and provide a clear summary that you can revert back to for future applications.
Award types tend to fall under the following:
- Industry-specific awards for your sector
- General awards for a range of different businesses
- Individual awards for entrepreneurs and leaders
- Awards for region/geographical area
These can be extended further and judged on local, regional or international scale.
Choosing a category
It’s important to take a step back and really look at the criteria and understand your strengths so that you can put yourself into the race that is the best fit for your business.
If you’re unsure of what category is best for you or what they’re looking for then contact the award company and ask for further advice – they are there to help and want to make the process as easy as possible for you.
There are many awards you could enter, but only a small selection will help you achieve your specific business and personal goals and as award applications can be very time consuming you want to be sure that time is not wasted by choosing the right category.
This could be in many forms such as testimonials, call stats, staff surveys, google ratings and turnover. Make sure whatever you need is something you can get hold of and that you have the buy-in from your staff to help pull this together.
Writing your award entry
- Be honest
- Keep it simple (facts over cliches)
- Use qualitative and quantitative data and evidence
- Talk about challenges and how they were overcome
- Include emotional engagement
- No jargon
- Clear goals and objectives
- Great stories
- Focus on outcomes
Judges want to know how you’ve been resilient so don’t be afraid to talk about your challenges they’re what makes you real, human and relatable.
Quality counts –never submit a first draft, let it breathe and leave time between and come back to it. Read it aloud, edit – get someone else to read through it.
Many people wait to find out whether they’ve been shortlisted before thinking about doing any kind of promotion about their award entry, but they’re really missing a trick.
There are so many opportunities for promotion before, during and after your award application such as:
- Sending out a pre and post-event release about your award entry
- Using award logos, PR templates and posts and videos shared by the award organisers
- Tagging in judges and the award company and using hashtags to boost your reach
- Add shortlist and winning logos to your signatures and website
- Creating soundbites or video clips from the night which you can use on social media for weeks/months after
- Thanking the judges and awards company in posts
- Blog posts about the awards
- Sending e-shots and newsletters about your result
- Mentioning in networking events and pitches to prospects
I hope this blog has helped you to see the benefits of building awards applications into your marketing strategy and plans and how they can give you a competitive edge and offer excellent return on investment for years to come.
Remember, planning and allowing enough time to research and write your application is key and being honest about your strengths will help you build a strong narrative and hopefully lead to a winning application.
Want to know more about our award services?
If you’d like support researching the most relevant award programmes for your organisation or need some help in crafting your application, feel free to get in contact and find out more about the different ways we can help.