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Seven Tips to Winning Business Awards

Land an Award for Your Company

When developing a comprehensive PR and social media campaign for our clients, we spend a lot of time building appropriate speaking programs and developing successful awards programs. Trade shows, media outlets and other industry organizations provide award opportunities at the local/regional/national level, and being named a finalist or winning an award is an excellent way to gain PR attention, as well as recognition and credibility within your industry. Having authored numerous award-winning submissions for our clients, such as 2010 Mira Award Winner and finalists, 2010 Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Finalist, Inc. 500|5000, 2010 CRN Emerging Vendor, Forbes’ “America`s Most Promising Companies,” and Channel Insider Bull’s Eye Awards “Innovator of the Year” (to name a few),we have compiled several tips to help you land an award for your company:

1)    Decide to dedicate time and resources to awards
Nearly every company understands the value of awards and would like to win them, but awards don’t happen by accident. Approach entering an award as you would any other project and set appropriate deadlines for each stage. If you’re doing the award submission in-house, ensure that there is at least one person at your company who will put an award submission together. If your PR agency is doing the submissions, be sure to get them all of the appropriate materials needed well in advance of the submission deadline, as well as dedicate time to edit and provide feedback on the submission.

2)    Identify credible and applicable awards
There are thousands of business awards you can enter, but not all of them are applicable to your business and your marketing goals. Also, consider the credibility of the award, who is giving the award, how it is judged, and how many years the award has been given. While some awards may have a nice title to them, they hold zero credibility in the minds of investors, clients and the business community in general. Take time to research and pick awards that are relevant to your industry, business and executive personnel, while also giving you a good chance of winning.

3)    Know the criteria and deadline
This seems like a no-brainer, but many award submissions are discarded for purely technical reasons. Read and understand the specific criteria, submission word count, submission deadline, etc. You may have the best submission and are the most qualified, but if you don’t follow the rules (and often the judges make the rules), you will get dumped.

4)    Know the judges
Beyond understanding general criteria and general submission tips, researching the judging panel is essential to a good submission. What is the judges’ level of knowledge about your industry or product category? Are they highly technical or general business? Have you worked with them before? How you describe your company or product in Channel Insider Bull’s Eye Awards “Innovator of the Year” submission should be different than the local “Companies to Watch” submission.

5)    Be specific
If it is an industry award where you will face direct competition, it should be simple with your differentiation pre-defined in your overall sales and marketing plan. However, this tip really applies to local and national awards that also enquire about items outside of the specific product or service, such as customer service, industry contribution, community involvement, etc. Be sure to always back up your claims with facts and supporting material. It’s not enough to say “our company believes in great customer service.” How have you affected the lives of your customers? Tell a unique story and support it with facts and you will come across as much more credible.

6)    Look at past winners and their submissions
This is one of the best ways to know the direction you should take with the submission. History is a great teacher.

7)    Proofread, proofread, proofread
There is nothing more off-putting for judges than to read poorly written submissions. Take time to reread the submission and then send to one or two other colleagues or friends to get a second look.

These are just a few things to think about when it comes to your awards program. What are your top tips to winning business awards? We’d love to hear from you!

More Stories By Ryan Greives

I am the senior public relations specialist at cleverbridge, a proven leader in global subscription billing technology, services and expertise. I lead the development, execution and measurement of the global PR and social media strategy. Prior to cleverbridge, I was vice president of BLASTmedia’s B2B Practice Group, providing strategic counsel, while driving tactical execution for a diverse range of clients. I led some of the agency’s largest campaigns, conducted launch campaigns for numerous startups and helped many emerging brands build their profile. Working with a wide variety of companies at all stages of growth, I have managed client strategy and messaging for clients such as 3Tera (acquired by CA in 2010), Bluelock, iGoDigital (acquired by ExactTarget in 2012), Code 42 Software, Tanita, NuCurrent, Woopra, Gordano, Ontario Systems and Mi Media (FRA: 8MK).

You can connect with me on Twitter, LinkedIn or Google+.

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