Business awards, as entering and winning (or even reaching finalist position) one of these is a great method of ensuring PR and many awarding bodies, such as the big banks out there, also do a great job of publicising their winners.
The big thing that puts people off entering these awards is the work that goes into it, but it’s important to remember that once you’ve done the work once, a lot of it can be tweaked and tailored to individual awards. One might focus on creativity, another on staff training, but much of the content will be the same. So, here are my top ten suggestions to give you the best chance of getting noticed by the judges.
1. Make the decision to do it.
If you are bringing entering awards into your PR programme then really do go for it. Just half-heartedly entering one award is a waste of your time. Do a little bit of research and see how many you are actually applicable for. Here are just a few I found in a 30 second web search – many of the banks annually run their own awards, as well as women’s magazines and the women’s website Handbag.
Likewise, give yourself the resources you need to do the job. Get outside help if you need it, as this is a big investment in your future.
2. There’s no place for modesty
Whilst it’s not nice to sound too smug or gloat, you do need to get your head around being proud of what you’ve achieved, and how you’ve done it.
3. Do some digging
Who won last year, and the year before that? Find out why, and maybe even speak to them if you can. Can they tell you what they think was the deciding factor in their favour?
4. Punch at the Right Weight
One of my clients entered the company category of an award, rather than the freelance section. She did it because she wanted to look bigger than she was, and she did ok, even got a special mention. But when one of the judges accidentally revealed that had she entered the freelance section she would have won hands down, she was gutted.
5. Read the Rules and Use the Space!
If you don’t cover everything they are looking for, then your entry is likely to fail to make the grade. And when it comes to filling the page, I keep telling my secondary-school age son that the fact they’ve given you a whole page on a comprehension exercise means that they feel that there is enough information there to merit a page. Likewise with an award, one-line answers are not enough. Equally, be just as careful not to go over the word limit.
6. Treat it as pitch
Give your entry structure, with headings and bullet points to make it easy on the eye. Logos and graphics make it look stylish and neat.
7. Give it some personality
I think that adding that little story about the reason you came to start the company, or the little anecdote behind the business name gives an entry colour, and sometimes even humour. This is bound to make it all the more attractive and memorable. Likewise, pay special attention to your opening and beginning paragraphs, as these hold a lot of sway.
8. Make sure it’s neat
I’m sure I don’t need to say it, but I will anyway! Also, get someone (not on your team) to proof read it before it goes in. It may make sense to you, but what about to someone who knows nothing about your business?
9. Start planning for future awards
Keep a diary, or craft your blog entries, and include little snippets of info and news about your business that you’ll be able to lift for future awards.
10. Don’t give up
Think of this as an ongoing activity and keep at it.
And, if you win, make the most of it!
Go to the award ceremony (do this even if you don’t win), and get that press release out there as soon as possible. Liase with the awarding body’s PR department to see how you can help them do their job, and whizz off an email to your existing clients and mailing list and tell them your great news.
I’ll leave you with this quote from my fabulous VA, Susan Moore of mooreva.co.uk who won Outstanding VA of the Year Award.
“Winning this year’s Outstanding VA of the Year Award has benefited my business in many ways. I had several potential clients who were considering using a VA and in the week after my win, they decided to sign up – no coincidence, I’m sure. The Award also brought me into contact with other high calibre VAs and business owners with whom I could set up alliances which enabled me to build a strong team. I also think that when I’ve contacted journalists offering to write on the subject, it has definitely helped to open doors. Lastly, and by no means least, some of my favourite clients like to tell other businesses that their VA has won a national award – there’s no downside!”