800 400 3831

Why awards are recognition for a job well done, not a popularity contest

By Deirdre Campbell
Tuesday, December 04 2018

As someone who has written awards nominations and judged them, what makes awards, well, rewarding is when your peers deem it the best of the best and worthy of recognition. Validation for a job well done makes all the blood, sweat and tears worth it.

The trick is in finding the right award programs, which reach the right audiences and command respect for how they are organized and governed. It’s not about winning an award for an award’s sake – you have to apply the same kind of thinking you would apply to any public relations campaign. Choose wisely, or your brand becomes associated with an award program that has no credibility.

Third party endorsements hold great weight in establishing trust in a brand. People’s Choice awards certainly drive recognition, an indication that many have been happy with the expertise or service. Meanwhile, Chambers of Commerce have helped many small businesses gain invaluable promotion with annual nominations and fundraising galas.

For many years I have been an adjudicator with the 10 to Watch awards program, shining a spotlight on emerging entrepreneurs and their young (under two years old) businesses. The review of each nomination is fairly rigorous and while nominees don’t have to disclose full financials, their business model and early results are scrutinized to determine as best we can that they are sustainable, balancing their triple bottom line, and authentic success stories with the potential for a lasting legacy.

Benefits of awards in a marketing strategy 

Building out nominations takes time, and the work can be arduous. However, the benefits to your media relations and marketing strategy can easily outweigh the labour.

Firstly, there is the awareness that the more reputable awards programs will be judged by industry experts, so while a win is never guaranteed, having influential industry figures review our clients’ businesses is always a benefit.

Secondly, pulling together information in a clear and concise manner provides exceptional content which can be easily re-purposed during a future public relations campaign.

And thirdly, building out a nomination may help identify a key strategic gap (or gaps) in your client’s business model which can be corrected in time for a nomination the following year.

So as a writer of nominations, and a judge of candidates, what are my tips for finding the best award programs for a brand?

Finding the best awards program to market your brand

  • Clearly define what you want your business or client to be recognized for – and what will help enhance the business’ reputation AND drive more market share. Examples include: business of the year (an indication the business is well run, well respected), sustainable business awards (the business cares about the world and people around it), best place to work (the business takes care of employees and their careers) entrepreneur of the year (the business is being led by someone who is innovative and visionary, worth the investment).
  • Look into the legacy of the award program, past winners and who is listed as adjudicators. Choose those with well-respected influencers within the industry where you want to raise profile. Their association speaks volumes to the quality of the program.
  • Find out how many nominations are typically received for an indication of the award program’s ability to drive promotion of finalists and winners. Is it a well-known, well-publicized program?
  • Search for award programs among reputable organizations and brands. In the tourism industry, for example, awards presented by media brands such as Conde Nast, Travel & Leisure, and National Geographic carry a lot of weight. Well-respected organizations such as the World Travel and Tourism Council and Responsible Tourism Association offer awards programs where the results are eagerly anticipated.
  • Beware of organizations which charge for nominations and base results on votes. These are popularity contests at best and hold little weight within the industries they cover. It is always a good idea to follow the money to determine the values behind shifty awards programs which recognize only those who invest in getting the most votes. In some cases, people can vote more than once and daily, showcasing the fact that a brand has a loyal community supporting them. But does that really tell consumers anything about a business’s expertise or values? In others, organizations can buy votes and the only winner is the award organizer.
  • Seek out recognition within the industry your business operates within. The airline industry, retailers, construction, urban planners, architects all host reputable awards programs, judged by peers and recognizing best practice. It is less important in a media relations and marketing strategy that consumers have heard of the awards and more important that there is a reputable association behind them. Also, as attracting employees becomes more competitive, industry awards helps profile businesses to prospective employees.
  • Check other businesses in your industry as well as competitors to see what award wins they highlight. Find out if being recognized by that association or organization brought them the recognition and profile they were hoping to achieve? And what was the ROI.

Joy of seeing a client gain recognition

Very few things in media relations and marketing agency life are better than seeing a client accept an award or gain recognition through a high-profile nomination.

We’ve had a hand in surprise nominations for clients who have contributed a lasting legacy to an industry and are too humble to nominate themselves.

We’ve convinced others to nominate their best practices as a way to acknowledge the work of the incredible team they have behind them.

As a marketing and PR agency, building an awards strategy into your own business strategy is also a good idea as both you and your client may gain invaluable profile. 

So… the envelope please…

Beattie Tartan is the integrated communications specialist. Call 800 400 3831 to learn how we can use the power of storytelling to boost your brand and grow your business.