Awards are a great way to get recognized, but they can seem rather daunting at first. How do you know which awards to apply for? Why are the deadlines always so tricky to find?
Our clients are pretty spectacular, so we spend a lot of time nominating them for awards. What I’m trying to say is that we can relate to your woes. We can also provide you with some pointers for making award nominations less intimidating.
1. Stand out
First, think about what makes your company truly award-worthy. Maybe you have a great CEO, unique company culture, or the juiciest, most mouth-watering burger. Maybe you recently introduced a new product to the market or created exceptional work for a client. Whatever it is, it’s your starting point.
2. Make a list
After you’ve determined the qualities your company is most proud of, it’s time to find the awards that fit the bill. Create a working document of your list and update it over time with specific award information, including links to the award homepage, deadlines and costs. Otherwise, you risk repeatedly spending 30 minutes searching for an award deadline only to find the award no longer exists.
Organize your list in three major categories:
- Local: Many local business and lifestyle magazines and newspapers hold annual awards. These range from “Best Restaurant” to “Top Women in Business” and “15 Emerging Leaders of 2014.” The best way to find these awards, along with their deadlines, is to skim the publications’ editorial calendars, which outline planned themes, events, content and features.
Your local Chamber of Commerce and business organizations are other great means to find local award opportunities. Look for information on the “Events” or “Awards” tabs on their websites or contact a member of the organization.
- National: National awards give you greater recognition and media exposure as well as great networking opportunities.
Consider awards like “Small Business of the Year,” “CEO of the Year” and “Entrepreneur of the Year.” Many large corporations, organizations and publications hold such awards. For example, Inc. Magazine holds the Inc. 500|5000 Awards each year, which honor the top 500 and 5,000 fastest-growing companies in the U.S. Ernst & Young holds the Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year Awards, recognizing the country’s top leaders.
When it comes to finding awards for a specific industry or category, consider Google your best friend.
- Trades: Trade publications give you more industry specific accolades. Dig through some of those trade magazines in your office, or check out WebWire for a great list of trade publications by industry. Again, visit their websites and look for an “Awards” or “Events” tab, or download their editorial calendar to find award information and timelines.
Award nominations can be time consuming and redundant. To make filling out applications and questionnaires easier, gather the following information into one document that you can access each time:
- Number of employees (at the start of your company, the past five years, and expected for the current year)
- Revenue (at the start of your company, the past five years, and expected for the current year)
- Your bank’s contact information
- Your law firm’s contact information
- Your CPA’s contact information
- Running list of organizations you’re involved in (if not in your bio, or if your bio is not easily accessible)
- Running list of charitable activities your business participates in
- Percentage of company owned by top executives
- Your contact information, including social media and website URLs (this one may seem silly, since you should have it memorized, but if you’re in the habit of copying and pasting the information above, don’t get slowed down by having to (semi-) manually enter your own information)
- Boilerplate (a brief explanation of what your company does)
Add to this list over time and use it as your go-to survival kit for award nominations— it’s a huge time (and life) saver when those last minute deadlines creep up on you.
If the award nomination process still seems too overwhelming to take on, consider partnering with a PR firm. As I’ve said, we often have a running list of awards by industry, category, publication… you name it. And, in addition to gathering a list of relevant awards, we can also take away the strain of writing the essays that often accompany award submissions. We love bragging about our clients.