How to make industry awards worth entering, without actually winning

In the latest, It’s a B2B Comms Thing LinkedIn Live stream, Ayo Abbas, Emma Drake and I spotlight industry awards and the value of entering.

It takes a lot of time to pull together a good awards entry, and there may be entry fees or the cost of a table at the ceremony on top, which can make it pricey.

It’s A B2B Comms Thing LinkedIn Live stream on getting value from awards

So we talked about how worthwhile it is to enter an award, whether you can make the most even if your name, company or project doesn’t get called out on the night.

Why and when should you enter an industry award?

Emma: The first thing is timing; make sure you’ve got something really compelling, and it fits with your timing as a business.

Have a broad range of things that you’re looking at, whether it’s your product, your service, your campaign or your business. But it has to be really special, it has to really stand out.

You have to do research and have a lot of facts. There’s quite a lot of work that goes into writing that award, so make sure that time spent is worthwhile.

Ayo: Does it fit into your overall campaign objectives? You have to ask: Is this project going to help propel us where we want to go? So there has to be a reason why you’re entering.

But also, I have used award entries as a way to get our story straight. It’s a test bed, it forces you to answer those questions and get the basics. And that can be a good hook, even if you don’t win.

Once we entered an award, which we didn’t win, we got shortlisted, but doing that process was good.

It set us up for entering the big awards later in the year as we realised we needed more evidence. f

Me: The one overriding thing for me is having a compelling story. And by that, I mean can you answer the ‘so what’?

Is what you are talking about actually above and beyond what everybody else is doing?

If you’re not answering that ‘so what’ question, if you’re doing what everybody else is doing, it’s not really worth spending the time pulling together that entry.

Emma: Just picking up on Ayo’s point, it is a really good process.

I entered an award for podcasts, and I was able to reflect on what I’d done over the last 12 to 18 months. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have sat down and looked back to reflect on the benefits against my objectives.

When shouldn’t you enter an award?

Me: [Don’t enter] if you don’t have a genuinely interesting, exciting, innovative or leading story to tell. If you’re not going above and beyond.

I sat on an awards judging panel and the first thing we judged all the entries by was, are they just doing what they should be doing or what is par for the course?

Anybody that wasn’t doing anything over and above immediately got dismissed.

Don’t enter if you haven’t got time to give to the entry because they are a lot of work to put together.

A good entry means researching and finding all the information. And usually, it’s a team effort, so make sure you’ve got buy-in from everybody who needs to provide information.

Emma: I’ve been a judge on the CIPRs Excellence Awards and the Pride Awards, and you get a lot of entries to go through.

There are precise criteria to meet, and your entry has to stand out, the judges have to be wowed. So don’t enter the middle-of-the-road product or launch campaign.

Ayo: Award writing is a bit like bid writing. And I agree, it’s about going through the judging criteria: Where do I meet this? Where do I find the evidence? What are the scoring criteria? What are they looking for? Who won it last year?

All the stuff you would do if you were putting together a proper bid.

There are a lot of rubbish awards companies out there who will go ‘Hi Ayo, Abbas Marketing has just won an award’. You’re: ‘Wait, I didn’t even enter it’.

And it will be a company I’ve never heard of, and they’ll want up to £300 to receive the award I’ve already won.

So be selective. Have you heard of the bodies and awards? Is it something you should go for if you’re going to pay for it?

How do you get value if you don’t win the award?

Me: Being shortlisted can be great publicity. But for the reasons we talked about earlier, going through that process, there’s a lot of information that can be used to create social media [content].

There was a great [LinkedIn] post this morning from a local authority. They hadn’t won an award; they said, ‘we lost, but we’re really proud of having done this’.

They then presented what they had achieved, which they’d obviously pulled from their award entry.

And then mentioned talking to the winners to find out their processes and what they could learn from them.

It was a great way of talking about not winning in a really positive way.

Ayo: It’s a good way to get your story together, and making the shortlist means the judges have seen something new.

Making the shortlist can be a good way to get value and raise your profile amongst your peers.

It’s also a learning process, another way for you to tell your story and what you’re doing well, and there is value in that.

Emma: It can cost money to enter an industry award. You have to reflect on whether or not you’ve got value from that.

What if you allocated that money to something else? So you have to make the most of it.

There’ll be a huge groundswell leading up to the awards; whoever’s running it, it’s in their interest to create a huge amount of noise around it.

So if you’re shortlisted, you will be part of that big wave of noise beforehand, so plan your content.

Make sure you’re telling everybody, put it in the footer of all the emails and all of those things. It’s an opportunity to talk about that project, campaign or service on your social media and to your email list.

Just entering the podcast [award], I got additional people on my email and additional listens I wouldn’t have had, had I not reached a new audience. So that was valuable.

Ayo: I’m shortlisted for a couple of awards, and I’ve connected with other women on that shortlist, for example. And now I’ve got an opportunity to go on someone else’s podcast.

There’s all the added benefit of networking and connections, so you’re completely right on that, Emma.

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Normally I shared the video of the Live recording but there were sound issues with my microphone. I’m hoping to generate a subtitled version so the sound quality doesn’t interfere with the content and will post it separately.

If you are on LinkedIn, join us for the next It’s A B2B Comms Thing live stream on 1 July, 12.30pm BST.

Previous It’s a B2B Comms Things episodes:

Should you use LinkedIn Live streams as part of your content strategy?

How to get comms value out of trade shows

Repurposing: How to make the most of your content

How to make social media work for B2B in 2022

Related post:

How to create content around an award win

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