Business award top tips

Clarke Associates

Miles Jones and Aneesa Malik, PR professionals at communications consultancy, Clarke Associates of Birmingham and a member of Birmingham Chamber for 30 years, have been responsible for a number 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”, advise Aneesa and Miles. “As we’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.” Aneesa and Miles share their top tips, below.

What makes a winner? Why enter?

• Awards are a fantastic way to boost your organisation’s profile. Whilst winning is invaluable, being a finalist or shortlisted for an award won’t disregard your credibility and reputation.

Entering for an award can raise the profile of your business and position your organisation as a strong contender for future opportunities.

Being visible to your audience, your competitors or your peers as an award candidate is great positioning for your brand/organisation.

• It is a way of broadening your reach and network of contacts – consider it as an opportunity to meet potential contacts you may not meet in your usual circles.

Award ceremonies garner attention from different sectors– as an example; a recent client won an industry award for innovation, but in a different sector entirely to the client’s main audience.

Increased awareness of the innovative and technical benefits of the product boost credibility and appreciation.

Where to start

• Brainstorm – get your team together to discuss your company’s achievements.

Not only is this great for internal morale but it will provide you with a large volume of relevant material for the award entry.

Once you have the first few submissions under your belt, you will begin to develop a template of content – refine this till perfection.

It will save you time when writing those future entries.

• Don’t leave it until the last minute.

An award strategy should be in place at the beginning of each year to identify those awards that are most relevant and consider budget allocation for each submission or table cost, if necessary.

• Ensure you and your team are aware of the deadlines and start compiling material for each of the awards in advance.

Instead of it being a last minute process, it is a process that should be continuous.

As an example, client endorsements should be collated into a shared word document that can be added to by your team throughout the year.

• Read the question. Similar to an exam situation, don’t seize on a few key words and get take the judges in completely the wrong direction.

It is crucial to make sure you’re telling the judges or panel exactly what they need know about your business.

The award criteria will list the attributes or measures by which the winner will be judged – it is your job to outline how you meet most if not all of these criteria.

Being your own cheerleader

• There’s usually a word limit but don’t feel that you need to make your case 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 a strong one.

• Third party endorsement is very helpful.

It might be favourable comments from clients and customers – consider a Net Promoter Score too.

• 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

Many 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.

Be proactive

• 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 it is easy access.

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 promoting yourself as an entrant.

• 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.

And finally…

• Respect your competition, and support your fellow entrants where appropriate. Champion other categories 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: Aneesa Malik or Miles Jones at Clarke Associates: 0121 702 2525