Each spring, publications and organizations across industries open up applications for prestigious business awards. If you want to generate some buzz and up your credibility, applying for (and hopefully winning) awards should be an essential component of your PR and communications strategy.
If you’re interested in applying for industry awards but don’t know where to start, you aren’t alone. This guide has all the information you need to make the most out of awards season.
Why Do Awards Matter?
Winning an award isn’t about patting yourself on the back or displaying a plaque in your office. (Although why not do both, anyway?) There are concrete PR benefits to earning such a high level of recognition:
- Media hits that keep giving. Winning an award is a newsworthy accomplishment. Whether the publication or organization announces your win, you send out a press release, or both, you’re likely to get a media hit. But don’t let that be the end of your exposure. List the award on your website, share it on social media, or add it to your email signature for up to a year to continue reaping publicity benefits.
- High visibility. Award recipients benefit from increased visibility that helps them rise above the competition. Adding awards to your list of credentials builds brand recognition and makes you more appealing to work with. Appearing on a coveted list or winning a prestigious award will also encourage reporters to reach out to you for comments or quotes on industry issues.
- Third-party recognition. Writing thought leadership articles for publications is a tried and true PR tactic. But winning an award for your expertise from a magazine or journal is equally powerful. When a third party verifies that you’re an industry leader with substantial expertise in your field, it holds significant weight.
Because of the visibility and credibility awards offer, winning an award delivers an instant PR boost that you can leverage for the rest of the year.
How Can I Find Awards?
Awards are easy to find if you know where to look. Many awards can be found via industry-specific publications and organizations. Check local and trade publications and their websites to see what’s available in your space. On a larger scale, publications like the Boston Business Journal, Boston Globe, Forbes, Inc., and Fast Company all have annual lists and awards that are less industry-dependent.
Keep in mind the larger the outlet, the more competitive the award. It’s wise to start smaller, with industry or local publications, before shooting for national recognition.
If you’re unsure where to begin your search, you can always search Google for awards in your industry. It’s as simple as typing in “[Industry] awards” and exploring the results.
How Do I Determine Which Awards to Apply For?
In a perfect world, everyone would apply for all awards relevant to their industry. In reality, you’ll need substantial time and resources to complete award applications properly. The best course of action is to prioritize your energy for the awards you’re most likely to win.
Some awards are strictly based on key performance indicators (KPIs), while others are more subjective. When you find one that seems like a good match for you or your business, start planning your application.
If there’s an award you are interested in but aren’t qualified for yet, set strategic goals to help make you a viable candidate in the future.
Nailing an Award Application
Once you’ve selected the awards you plan to apply for, give yourself ample time to submit the best applications possible. Each award has different criteria for nominations, and you’ll want to ensure that you have everything you need in advance. If you have a press kit, the assets and brand messaging guidelines included in it will likely come in handy.
For awards that recognize individuals, you’ll need to carefully consider who should submit your nomination. Your direct supervisor is always a safe bet. But if you’ve recently done impressive work with your CEO or another member of the C-suite, their voice could have more sway.
If the award recognizes companies rather than individuals, consider asking a loyal client to submit your nomination. The easiest way to do it? Volunteer to write the nomination for them so that they can easily submit it on your behalf.
We recommend when possible, applying at least 2-3 weeks before the deadline so you aren’t scrambling at the last minute and can confirm that all materials have been submitted.
A Good Win: Catania Oils
Last month, we applied for an award for our client, Catania Oils. The 125+ year old company is the Northeast’s largest provider of conventional plant-based oils to the ingredients, retail, and foodservice markets.
We put together a concise, compelling application on their behalf for the Worcester Business Journal (WBJ). The excellent work they do in their industry, combined with the thoughtful application we submitted, led to them winning the WBJ’s most prestigious award: Manufacturer of the Year. They will be accepting this honor at an event next week!
We just submitted three different applications for another client, and I hope to be reporting more “Good Wins” later this year!
Want to reap the benefits of awards season but don’t have the resources to submit a stellar application? Get in touch with me today, and let’s build a PR plan that gets you the recognition you deserve.