Lydia Marshall of PR and communications consultants Clarke Associates is a member of Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, and has been responsible for a raft of award entries for the consultancy’s clients – and most with success. “Having an eye for what might attract an award judge, and help the company stand out, is key,” she says. “And as I’ve experienced with clients, success breeds success. A business that is winning awards will regard itself as a winner (as will its customers) and this creates a virtuous circle.”
Here Lydia shares her top tips.
What makes a winner?
- Awards are a fantastic way to boost your organisation’s profile. Obviously, the ideal outcome would be to win, but even where you don’t, being a finalist or shortlisted won’t harm your credibility and reputation, either. It can raise the profile of your business invaluably by positioning your organisation as a contender for the kind of recognition that comes with high profile awards. Being seen by your audience, your competitors or your peers as a candidate is great positioning for your brand/organisation.
- It’s also a way of broadening your reach and network of contacts – you never know who you might meet at an awards ceremony.
- It can garner attention from different sectors– as an example; a recent client award win was an industry award for innovation, and in a different sector entirely to the client’s main audience. It increased awareness of the innovative technical benefits of the product, boosted credibility and appreciation.
Where to start
- Brainstorm – getting your team together to talk about your company’s achievements is not only great for internal morale but it will also provide you with much more material for the award entry itself.
- Don’t leave it until the last minute. Indeed, what you really need to do is to embark on an award strategy whereby you identify those awards that you really want to win, ensure you are aware of the deadlines and start compiling material for each of the awards in advance. Instead of it being a process that you do at the last minute, it is a process that should be continuous and maybe even lasts all year – because you are constantly compiling information that you can then slot into your award entry.
- Read the question. Similar to an exam situation, don’t just seize on a few key words and get carried away with an impassioned answer that takes you in completely the wrong direction. It’s crucial to make sure you’re telling the judges or panel what they want to hear. The award criteria will often list the attributes or measures by which the winner will be judged – so it’s your job to outline how you meet most if not all of these.
Being your own cheerleader
- Sweet and short is best. There’s usually a word limit but don’t feel that you have to go on for 2500 words if you can make your case in 1500. Include all pertinent information but remember that judges will have many entries to assess – if you can get to the point whilst giving them the relevant supporting facts, your entry is already a strong one.
- Write objectively. Don’t use superfluous and fluffy language. Be factual and use as many statistics, reinforcing material and endorsement as possible.
- Third party endorsement is very helpful. It might be favourable comments from clients and customers – it might also be a Net Promoter Score.
- Be distinctive. Saying that you “put the customer first” is hardly original and if you don’t, you are probably not an award winner anyway!
- Include some of the smaller elements; you might have increased your exports by 100% but what did you do to support customer service; deal with a customer complaint; go the extra mile?
Better to be safe than sorry
- Lots of awards involve a submission form on a website, and either uploading supporting documents and pictures, or typing text into blank fields. If the page just gives you a brief confirmation message, it’s often reassuring to seek and receive email confirmation too, in order to double check that your submission arrived safely. There’s nothing worse than a technical glitch that results in a missed deadline and therefore a missed award opportunity!
Don’t sit on your laurels
- Sometimes the entry or nomination can be just the beginning. If an award requires your audience to vote for you in order to win, it is often the case that most customers or service users are happy to do so – IF you make it as easy as possible. This means including a link to the voting page in your email footer, pinning a social media post reminding people where they can vote, providing reminders and just generally promoting yourself. After all, you deserve to win the award, right?
- Use it in your PR! Entering an award is certainly good for social media; being shortlisted is good for both social media and your own local and trade media; winning – make a splash!
- Don’t get cocky. Respect your competition, and support your fellow entrants where appropriate. Champion other categories also to show support for the awards scheme as a whole. Whilst you’re in it to win it, it’s great to show that you can offer support across other sectors where you don’t benefit directly.
- You won’t win every time – because no matter how great you are, you can’t control who you are up against! But if you don’t win at first, try again.
For further information please contact:
David Clarke or Lydia Marshall at Clarke Associates:
0121 702 2525