When was the last time your company won an award? Were you called up to a pedestal during a formal ceremony, or sent a beautifully embossed certificate to hang on the office wall?
Do you remember how it felt? Did the congratulations pour in from customers and vendors, friends and family? Did you get a couple new customer referrals in the weeks after the announcement?
Awards and industry recognitions help a brand stay top-of-mind and among an elite group in a given industry. Awards solidify a reputation, cement a legacy and build a brand.
If your company isn’t going after awards then you are missing out on one of PR’s best ways to gain valuable media mentions. The irony, however, is that only a small, shrewd percentage of companies pursue awards on a regular basis. Granted, some awards are won based at large selections but most are based on applications carefully prepared well in advance of the award announcement.
Heck, even Academy Awards are based on an a form that must be submitted by December 2 every year and proves a given film meets certain basic criteria set forth by the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences.
The beauty of awards is that there are so many of them and they’re easy to find and apply to.
Here is a list of ideas to consider as you look to put your brand on a pedestal and attract well-deserved attention from media and onlookers.
Industry awards: every industry has them. They are annual events, sometimes tied to a conference or trade show, and winning is a big deal. Addys for ad agencies, SWSW Gaming Awards for cool new video games, kids toys and board games, fashion awards, startup awards, mobile apps, consumer product awards. I once helped a pet store get a media write-up for a pet store industry award it received. Research your industry to find awards most closely related to what you do and be sure to give yourself plenty of time before the deadline to create a compelling case for your brand.
Inc. 500/5000: The annual Inc. 500/500 list is the much-anticipated list of the highest-growth private small and mid-sized companies in the U.S. Getting on the list conveys an imprimatur of success, profitability and huge upside potential. The challenge of getting on the list is you have to be able to substantiate a four-year track record of revenue growth, albeit not based on audited financials, with minimum annual revenue greater than $200,000. Still, landing on the list is well worth the effort. Heck, your name gets added to the magazine’s list, which is one of the most anticipated editions of the year. Just don’t go overboard buying all the swag, trophies, plaques that end up costing an arm-and-leg above what you expected.
Business journals awards: American City Business Journals holds annual awards in the 40 or so metro areas they serve. The list of awards ranges from Fast 50, which recognizes the 50 fastest growing small & mid-sized businesses in a particular metro area, to commercial and residential real estate awards, to its Best Places to Work award for small, medium and large companies. Find your city at this [link] for more information.
Chamber of Commerce awards: many chambers of commerce hold annual award galas to draw attention to their most outstanding member companies. It’s a great way to gain recognition from your peers in a community, publicity and more business.
Community newspaper awards: many local newspapers hold annual awards for a wide variety of topics. Some I have seen in Austin from the Austin American-Statesman and Austin Chronicle include social media awards, music awards, restaurant awards, workplace awards, healthiest employer awards. Your community will undoubtedly have similar awards so do a little research to find the ones you are most suited for and go for it!
National Small Business Week award: every year the Small Business Administration (SBA) recognizes the special impact made by outstanding entrepreneurs and small businesses. Because it’s a national award, the competition is intense but it doesn’t mean it’s not worth your time to apply. After all, just like Wayne Gretzky said many years ago: “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t make.” To learn more, click [here].
The Crunchies: I would be remiss if I didn’t mention The Crunchies as a separate award category. The Crunchies is put on by TechCrunch, long the leading voice on all topics related to startup and established technology. The annual award event is billed as the Oscars for the tech industry. It’s where you see Enfant Terrible CEO’s like Uber CEO Travis Kalanick and apps like Yik Yak used by Enfant Terribles to bash and bully one another come together in one star-studded night at Davies Symphony Hall in San Francisco.
Top 10 lists: lists of the top 10 of everything abound online. You can even write a top 10 list for your own blog, or as a guest post on another blog. If you provide a product, whether B2B or B2C, then getting into a top 10 list is an effective way to gain credibility and more website clicks. Find out which online publications have created top 10 lists in the past and email them to suggest your businesses as a possible contender for the next list.
Final tip: Don’t forget to self promote your honors and accolades and get your fans to do so as well. After all, the award is the perfect excuse for your social network to gush about how great you are at what you do, effectively becoming an extended referral sales network free of charge!
About Dave Manzer: Dave Manzer founded an Austin tech startup PR firm for startups and emerging-growth businesses in 2009. Dave Manzer specializes in highly integrated PR & marketing strategies that help companies in technology, healthcare, consumer and professional services reach their goals in brand awareness and revenue growth. To contact Dave about the PR over Coffee blog, feel free to tweet him at @davemanzer or email him at dave(@)davemanzer.com.