Entering industry awards: maximise the PR value

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Have you ever thought about putting in an application for an industry award or competition?

It can be a little daunting if you haven’t done it before.   What should you write? How can you tell your story in a way that will connect with the judges? Why bother anyway?

From a public relations point of view, applying for select industry awards can be a great part of your business strategy. They can help you build your brand’s reputation as an industry leader and build your credibility among customers and peers.

Being a finalists or winner also gives you an opportunity for publicity and a chance to talk about your business, your brand and what you do in a genuine, non-salesy way. Winning an award can help attract repeat business and new customers – people are attracted to leaders in their fields and will make a beeline for you.

However, applying for an award does take time and thought. If you decide this is part of your communications strategy, you need to put the time in to do it well – or don’t do it at all. That means taking the time to do a great award application and taking charge of your own publicity.

What makes a great application?

Remember to read the application carefully; answer the questions being asked.  You need to address them specifically.

This is not the time to be shy! Talk about the great things you have done. Whatever you are saying you’ve accomplished, back it up with stats and facts. Show the proof.

Make sure it is well-written.  Remember the judges are busy people. A sloppy application is not going to make a good impression. The content is one part of the application but the way it is written is extremely important.

Make sure there are no spelling or grammatical errors, make sure it’s succinct, use simple language, headings and bullet points are important.

How can you make the most of entering awards?

Remember that you need to take charge of your own publicity. Don’t ever assume the organisation doing the awards will do enough to highlight your finalist position or win.   

The lead organisation will often do one big release stating all finalists or all winners.  They are not concerned with getting each and every organisation involved the maximum amount of profile. Only you can do that.

If the organisation announces finalists, that is a trigger for you to announce this yourself. If you are a finalist, ensure you prepare your communications before the awards take place. Have a media release prepared, social media posts, website news story, even an advert developed and ready to place.   

Think about how you will maximise the announcement of an award win – if it happens – on your earned, owned and paid channels available to you.

Why prepare all this beforehand? Because it has most ‘news legs’ the morning after/day after an award ceremony.  Talking about it a few days or weeks later will not gain as much cut through and media pick-up.   

If you are doing a media release and you win, pick your target media outlets and email it to them the night of the awards ceremony (ideally minutes after the award announcement) or first thing the following morning. Follow up with a phone call to key media, offering a spokesperson for interviews.

The photo

This is incredibly important: get a photo on the night that is media worthy.

If you need to get a group shot of the winning team at an awards dinner, get a close-up of one or a select few smiling faces. A group of twenty people holding the award does not work for media.

You only get one chance to get a great media-worthy picture, so think ahead of time about what sort of photo(s) you require and put someone on your team in charge of ensuring it happens (or it won’t).

Consider things like lighting, composition, and ensure the file size is at least 1-2MB (for good print reproduction).

Put it on the calendar

So, now that you have the information you need to get you started, look around and see what industry awards are coming up and get prepared. Make a calendar of key awards you or your staff want to enter in the coming year.

Put this in your communications strategy for the year and be sure to enter – and give yourself enough time to do it well. It can take time but the results of receiving an industry accolade or acknowledgement is worth its weight in PR gold!

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