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Winning industry awards – good for PR, a gamble?

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The awards season is upon us. Here are some tips to help you win. Winning an industry award can be a masterstroke of PR and Marketing, it can be an opportunity for industry networking and recognition for months or years of work.

Why do industry awards schemes exist?

Organisations offer awards schemes for a number of reasons. In the case of industry associations such as the CIPR or the IABM, the awards showcase the work of active members and attract new members to join. In trade media, I guess publishers use awards schemes to reach out to new companies who are potential advertisers.  Entries arrive from companies that want to get known in their industry and they are introduced to the publisher over a drink on the awards night.

The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise are the UK’s biggest and best awards. Winning a Queen’s Award affirms an organisation’s achievements and allows you to add the Queen’s Award emblem to your marketing materials and stationery for five years. The judging criteria for the Queen’s Awards are tough, so winning one proves that your company is a genuine leader in your category.

Chambers of Commerce and trade shows often have their own awards schemes and some of the large banks give awards to businesses.

The cost to enter and the cost of winning an award

Some of these awards are free to enter and some have an entry fee. However there can be other costs that are not evident at the start. For example if you win an award, you may want add it to your stationery, which will incur a cost.

If your entry makes the short list, you will want probably want to book places at the awards night dinner. Suppose you commit to buy a table for ten employees at £250 each – you can expect a first class dinner and a chance for your team to have night out together. It will also provide you with an opportunity to network with peers in your industry, but you will need to cover the cost from one of your company’s budgets.

There are some, mostly US-based awards that you seem to be able to buy if you have a few thousand dollars to invest. In those cases you should treat the award more like an advertisement, and hope that it will help to build awareness of your company and brand.

Who will benefit most from winning?

If your company is in one of the following situations, winning an award could be an excellent marketing move. Ideally you would win quite a few of them.

You are a relatively new player in your industry and you want to build your name in your market.

You are positioning your company for a change of ownership or a merger.

Your product or service is something of a “commodity” and some awards will help you to stand out from peers.

You are in television, an industry which takes awards more seriously than most.

How to create a winning entry for an industry award

I suggest that you only enter if you can present a good case for winning. Read the entry criteria carefully and decide how your entry would measure up against the competition. Be honest – could you win? If you have a sporting chance of winning, here are my tips for creating a winning entry:

  • Write dispassionately about your company’s achievements.
  • Never allow the entry to become self-congratulatory.
  • Base the entry on facts.
  • Ensure that the entry is lively and interesting to read.
  • Add images or video to support your entry if the entry format allows it.

If you need a copywriter, I’m available to write awards entries. Please contact

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