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Three Hidden Benefits of Awards Programs

This month, awards season in Hollywood ratchets up as celebs, directors, musicians, and costume designers alike wait to hear if their project has caught the attention of awards judges. The next Meryl Streep may be discovered in this year’s selections. From the Golden Globes to the Oscars and every other award in between – it’s clear that the promised prestige of awards matters. Film and television aren’t the only industries where this holds true.

Choosing Your Targets

The CE industry is host to many awards programs, and they each offer unique benefits for both winners and finalists.  When considering submitting your company or its products for an award, think carefully about where to invest your efforts. Just like certain movies fair better at Sundance than they do at the Golden Globes, make sure you’re considering awards that really make sense for your company and fit with your goals. For instance, if an award relies on public voting to determine results, it’s likely to be a good fit only for companies with a strong social media program. You’ll need to promote the ballot and engage with potential voters frequently throughout the voting period. On the plus side, such programs provide a natural storyline for your social feeds and a great opportunity to interact with your online audience. If doing that fills you dread, you’re likely better off submitting to awards that rely on case studies, data, or narrative as selection criteria.

Look for awards that are a natural fit, both in terms of your marketing goals and desired audience and in terms of the selection criteria. Criteria should be clear, specific, and make you think, “Hey, that’s me!” Don’t stretch to fit into the wrong box – many CE awards are highly competitive, and you’ll likely be wasting your time.

Not all awards programs are the same, and there is certainly not a one-size-fits-all program. When you consider awards in your overall PR and marketing mix, there are a boatload of obvious benefits that I could extol: brand awareness, recognition, and increased exposure in the industry. However, entering awards programs can reap other rewards that you may not have thought of.

Benchmarking

I’m sure you’ve taken a look at an awards program before and thought, “Well, we don’t have anything that would qualify.” Especially when it comes to products, ship dates can be super specific. If you don’t have something that fits, that’s ok!

But don’t forget about those awards that have to do with process. Awards that cover customer service, technical support, or even community involvement can confer many of the same benefits as product awards. If you still don’t feel like your brand is award-worthy after examining these options, perhaps it’s an opportunity to reevaluate as a company.  When I was working at CEDIA, we frequently heard that the CEDIA Awards process was demanding, but it often forced companies to improve their project documentation so the entry process would be easier the next go around. Similarly, in order to be eligible for any of Fortune’s “Best Workplace” lists, you must first meet Great Place to Work certification benchmarks measuring employee satisfaction and trust.

Sometimes, the process of simply applying for an award makes your company better. If you’re not at an award-worthy level, use these programs as a benchmark to get there.

Recruiting Talent

Prior to joining Caster Communications, the fact that they had just been named to the PRNEWS Agency Elite Top 100 told me a lot about the team I was looking to join. I won’t lie – I looked up the award criteria to better understand what this award really meant. And let’s just say I was impressed.

Make sure your awards are visible across your website. This can show potential team members some of the areas that you’ve excelled in. Maybe you won a Better Business Bureau award for volunteer hours, or you’ve consistently swept industry awards for innovation. Increasingly, millennial workers want their jobs to have purpose and be a source of community. Use awards to help tell that story for you.

Company Morale

2020 and 2021 have been strange years – while some awards programs boast the benefit of an event for everyone to join together and celebrate, that’s just not the world we are living in right now.

At my last job we entered a best places to work competition. While we didn’t make it past the first round of very stiff competition – it was an excellent exercise in looking at how far we had come to make the workplace an environment we all wanted to be part of.

Don’t underestimate the boost awards can have on company morale even in these strange times. Companies are continuing to innovate and those achievements should continue to be recognized – make sure your team knows how much they are valued.

The Winners Circle

Though it would be nice to sweep every category for your company is eligible, it’s not a realistic expectation – not everyone can be season 6 of Schitt’s Creek at the 2020 Emmys. The awards process can be its own reward, however. Campaigning for awards can increase the cadence and engagement on your social media. Awards criteria can help you evaluate your product and organizational strengths and weaknesses. The awards you apply for and win can be rallying point for your staff, existing and new. If you enter into awards programs with a thoughtful approach, and you treat every stage as a learning experience, you will always be in the winner’s circle.

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