The rewards of awards - 5 top tips - Business Works
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The rewards of awards - 5 top tips

David Jamieson, TopLine Communications Entrepreneurs and companies that can point to a glittering array of business awards and commendations have won a lot more than silverware. Theyve benefited from plenty of favourable PR through the awards organisers (and their own) promotion of the event; they will have boosted staff morale and, by way of third party endorsement, made their business much more attractive to prospective employees and customers.

You dont even have to win to reap the benefits: just being shortlisted gives you a positive piece of news to share with colleagues and customers and, if you just miss out, it will help focus you and your team on claiming the next one.

Ive entered client companies, executives and managers into dozens of awards and if you follow my top five tips I promise youll have a bulging trophy cabinet in no time. Better get working on that acceptance speech!

Types of awards

Awards can be placed into three broad categories. Vertical sector awards are the best for raising your profile within a specific sector and driving sales. (Theyre also among the easiest to win.) Entrepreneur-specific awards on the other hand are better for gaining the business owner national or even international exposure by building their personal profile. Theyre a little harder to win and will require a much greater analysis of your abilities, but the rewards are potentially higher.

Finally, national business awards, such as the National Business Awards or Sunday Times 'Best Companies', for example, which are the business equivalent of the Oscars, receive excellent coverage and carry plenty of weight. National awards also come with lengthy entry forms and, usually, hefty entrance fees.

The road to success

1. Consider your intentions
Do you want to build your personal profile, or drive sales? As Ive already said, entrepreneurs looking to add to their profile, perhaps to encourage investment (or simply out of vanity!), would do well to consider awards that reflect this goal. A quick Google search reveals a whole host of awards recognising entrepreneurial success for all types of people under-30s, those in the finance industry, technology whizz kids. Getting this right is essential to ensuring any award wins contribute to your business objectives. Why not search to see the coverage that previous winners have leveraged after winning?

2. Read the criteria thoroughly
This might sound obvious but all too often Ive seen clients spend a great deal of time on awards entries for which they dont even qualify and, therefore, dont stand a chance of winning. Its not as straightforward as simply entering the right category; you need to check whether youll need to be around for any follow-up activity the organisers need to conduct, such as a round two interview, or the production of a video. And, without being presumptuous, make sure youre actually available on the night of the awards. Therell be no satellite linkup arranged for you - youll just be taken out of the running.

3. Use testimonials and case studies
Just as business awards make for a great third party endorsement, they are often judged on glowing testimonials and case studies which give the judges more confidence to pick you than if they were just taking your word for it. And make sure your case studies are willing to be named and/or contacted during the judging process.

4. Be prepared to share business figures
A simple one to remember: the bigger awards often request copies of filed reports and acocunts to prove performance claims or demonstrate stability (check the criteria if unsure), so dont even bother if you're not willing to share.

5. Consider who is involved in the awards
For example, who sponsors the awards? Its a commercial reality, Im afraid, that if your competitor sponsors a particular award the organiser is going to be reluctant to upset them by honouring you. (You might be able to sneak in through the back door by nominating a customer who uses your solutions, but this is still a risky strategy.) See if you can find out who the judges are as well. If you know the decision rests with industry commentators or journalists, you can tailor your entry to their interests, or, if the public decides, you need to be confident that you can drum up enough support.

And a final, related point: be interesting - the judges read an awful lot of entries so make yours stand out with interesting copy backed up with pictures, copies of published articles and even videos.

David Jamieson is an Account Manager at TopLine Communications, specialists in B2B digital PR and communications:

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