We all know what PR is supposed to be.
It’s about connecting companies/organisations with all those who matter to them. It’s about press releases, articles, blogs and posting onto social.
It’s also about speaker opportunities, seminars, exhibitions, networking events…the list goes on and on.
It’s about determining a commercial and marketing strategy, setting realistic
objectives, and creating a PR programme to help make it happen.
However, there’s one silver(ish) bullet in the PR armoury that is often overlooked.
Virtually every sector of business has its own awards scheme – from lighting to
glazing, from banking to construction, from building products to bathroom supplies.
Whatever business sector you’re in, there’s probably an awards competition that you
could enter. (Actually, not just maybe. Definitely).
And it’s not just business sectors. There are a whole raft of personal awards…in HR, accountancy, marketing… you name the job title, and there’s an award to be won.
Nor does it matter how big you are. There are awards for start-ups, entrepreneurial awards, innovative new products.
Or there are awards in the workplace - for best practice in flexible working, best places to work, social inclusion, recruitment policies.
More recently have come environmental or green awards, celebrating everything from recycling to carbon reduction, from waste water treatment to renewable energy.
Some award schemes are international. Others cover the UK. Others are regional, run by representative or public bodies.
All, however, offer PR and commercial opportunity because winning (or being short-listed for) an award gives enormous third-party endorsement.
It’s not about you saying how wonderful you are. It’s about an independent panel of judges deciding that you really are wonderful.
What’s important is that you take the time to really understand what the judges are looking for, how to tick the right boxes and the metrics that matter.
Marketing and sales
We have won a number of international, European and UK awards for clients, and it has given them a valuable marketing and sales tool. They’ve been able to carry the awards scheme logo on their website, and shout from the rooftops to potential customers.
Winning an award gives them that right, because the award is seen as an industry accolade – a clear indication that the product or company is head-and-shoulders above the rest.
But the fact is that relatively few companies enter awards. Many are worried that they won’t stand a chance against the big boys. Others haven’t thought through the marketing or PR opportunity. Others, particularly smaller companies, just can’t find the time – and researching and writing a killer submission can be time-consuming.
But one thing we know from experience is that it doesn’t matter how small you are or if you’re from an unglamorous sector. To win an award, size doesn’t matter.
Award schemes are designed to support companies of all sizes, providing them with a leg-up to the next level.
Upside, no downside
In the endless corporate battle that is the survival of the fittest, entering your company or its products for an award could be the best PR idea that you’ve never thought of doing.
The great thing is that there’s no downside. If you lose, nobody will ever know. If you’re short-listed, or win, you can make the whole world sit up and listen. (Well, the bits of the world that matter to you).
The great upside is that (whisper it softly) winning an award isn’t the insuperable task that you might think.
The trick is to know the awards landscape, nationally and regionally, and truly understand what the judges are looking for. (It’s also, for example, about knowing which award categories are over-subscribed with entries, and which categories are attracting the fewest entries).
In other words, entering awards should be front-of-mind for any company wanting to get itself noticed. At a time when marketing budgets are tight, awards provide a cost-effective way to build brand value…and new business.
In our experience, every successful or ambitious company has a story to tell, about itself or its products, irrespective of size or sector. It’s how you tell that story that matters.
Tell that story well and the commercial rewards can be considerable.