Accolades and Accomplishments: The Art of Award Strategy
Tips on developing an effective plan to target, win and maximize company awards.
“Best Places to Work”, “40 Under 40” and “Most Trusted Company” are a few examples of the many awards and recognitions companies seek to capture during the year. Many organizations recognize that winning corporate awards is valuable, but don’t have an effective plan for targeting, winning or leveraging awards.
It might seem obvious but here are some of the values that awards offer:
- Externally: awards provide credibility and convey a sense of quality that can tip the scales in third-party decision making, whether from prospects or the media.
- Internally: awards contribute exponentially to internal morale, providing employees with increased pride in their workplace. This is a metric which is becoming increasingly important as millennials take over the world of work. Celebrating these wins recognizes the hard work of teams and yields great dividends in the form of improved happiness levels and employee retention.
A significant level of specificity is often required to win awards; however, there are three primary steps which almost every award strategy needs. These are: defining opportunities, distinguishing your message and maximizing the win.
1: Defining your Opportunities
Before applying for an award, it is important to establish corporate objectives and goals. Ask questions like, what are our competitive advantages and are they worthy of recognition? What do we want to get from this award? Who will care the most about this award if we win it?
Once you have the answers to these questions, the next step is to research which awards are most relevant, winnable and valuable for your firm. After serving in the trenches and winning numerous awards for clients, KCD PR has come up with a number of tips we hope will save you the tough lessons we learned along the way. We also use a proprietary scoring system with our clients which help them make quick decisions on award impact versus time spent. Short of sharing this here, we have outlined a few tips to save you time:
Look for industry-specific awards, best places to work nominations and honors given out by your local newspaper. Strike a balance between the realistic likelihood of winning an award and the impact that award will have. Also worth noting is that those bigger, more shiny awards typically come after winning smaller accolades. Start small and remember that herd mentally applies here.
- Go beyond products and services
Consider the capabilities of individuals working at your firm. Can you nominate them for any specific awards? The EY Entrepreneur awards are a great example.
- Look up industry leaders
Find out who the highest-rated or most-awarded players are in your industry then look up what awards they have won. This often can shorten the research process and uncover awards you would never have found otherwise.
- Make a master calendar
Create a master calendar and store it in Dropbox or another file sharing app. Include all the awards and research you find. Make sure you organize by the yearly application deadline, which will not only help you plan out your year, it also ensures you don’t miss any deadlines. The best awards application in the world is worthless if it’s submitted the day after application deadlines. By keeping this list updated, you can learn from each award campaign and be the first to throw your hat in the ring with a new pitch next year.
Step 2: Distinguishing your Award Message
The message announcing your award is often where most companies miss the opportunity to craft a message that appeals to prospects, clients, and employees.
Here are some tips on doing it right:
Validating your Values
Think about your mission and company values. How does this award reinforce those values and function as 3rd party validation that you “walk-the-walk?” What does your company stand for and how can you incorporate your corporate vision and ethics into your message? If you can integrate a story or two that ties into both your mission statement and one of the considerations that helped you win the award, even better.
Recognition, Recognition, Recognition
Consider the role clients, partners and employees played in winning your award. One of the best ways to ensure your award not only makes a good impression but gets picked up by more publications is to use it as an opportunity to recognize others. Have the CEO throw in a quote dedicating the award to the awesome team he gets to work with. When quoting senior management, highlight specific actions or things that employees did to help win the award. If the award is for the company, don’t forget to gather everyone together for a big photo with the award.
Incorporate your Unique Selling Prepositions (USP’s)
Find a way to sprinkle in a few sentences about what your company does that is different and link this to the rationale for winning the award. This doesn’t mean saying things like “We offer advising services for seniors.” Instead, focus on specific things you do differently from your competitors like having superior technology, more experienced veteran leadership (use a story to illustrate this) or offering a special twist or addition to your services that no competitor has.
Step 3: Maximizing the Win
Market and promote the announcement. Take the message your team crafted and share it on social media, in blog posts, and with clients. Post the award on your website, email signature and maybe even your building. (Example “John Doe Pharma, Voted Best Pharmacy in San Diego 2018). Creating and disseminating a press release also is a must!
Step 4: Bonus Step: Keeping it Relevant
Most awards come with specific badges you can use – leverage these badges on your website, brochures and email newsletters. It doesn’t hurt to make sure people know you have third-party validation. This ensures the awards you worked so hard to win continue to generate dividends long after the contest is over.
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