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Want to win business awards? Here’s what your company should be doing

By Simon Halewood

Has your company been struggling to win awards? Can’t even get short-listed for industry award ceremonies? Then why not change strategy and hand over writing business award entries to your public relations agency.

With expert communications advice, you’ll be able to get nominated for business awards that reinforce your company’s standing in its industrial sector and raise its reputation.

There’s a real skill to writing an award entry. The best results rely on journalistic rigour and the abilities of a public relations and marketing agency to intimately understand what their clients do best.

Demonstrate that to the judges and it’ll be time to hit the red carpet.

Here’s what your business should be considering as you go through the entry process …

Can you make a business case?

You wants to win awards for your business. But is the award you’re considering entering for the right fit? Will it give the company the kudos it desires and promote it in the market it needs to be in?

A keystone of the public relations service Beattie Communications provides is that we give our clients expert consultancy. Our communications advice is that clients should only enter a particular business award if we’re confident it delivers on industry stature, credibility and exposure.

So as you begin the process, ask yourself how would winning the prize benefit your business? Would it place it on a pedestal as the best of the best among its peers? Would it underline your sector specialism and provide significant exposure to potential new business?

There’s no point in winning a prize for a prize’s sake – it has to have real value in terms of stature or business outcomes. 

Are you keeping to the rules?

At Beattie, we make sure we’re entirely familiar with the rules of the business award a client wants to win before we begin work on the entry. Then we write to the rules.

No matter how outstanding your company’s entry, if it’s 1,000 words over the word limit, it won’t win awards – it will be binned. Simple as that.

Knowing the rules means you’ll know the level of detail the entry has to go into. That helps you put your PR advisors in touch with the right people so that they can ensure your company’s response is filled with pertinent detail.

Make sure you know exactly what is expected of you in the entry when you’re reviewing the agency’s work. We’ll stick to the guidelines – you must do the same.

When is the deadline?

Respect the deadline for the business awards entry. Find out when you have to submit your application. At Beattie, we set ourselves a deadline two weeks before it’s due. That gives our clients plenty of time to make amendments and tweaks – and helps both company and public relations service make sure it’s still within the rules. 

Do you have a compelling story to tell?

Your awards entry is trumpeting an achievement your firm is proud of – but have you considered what sets it apart from others’ achievements?

What specific outcome has it achieved? Is it an industry first, has it tripled revenue, did it change the way they do business? Your entry has to effectively demonstrate the impact it made.

Knowledgeable, informative writing lies at the heart of Beattie’s public relations service. Would we draft and issue a press release if it didn’t contain any news? No, of course not.

Award submissions can be 20 times as long as a press release so imagine how bored a judge would be reading through 10,000 words explaining simply that a product is great or that a building was built.

Whatever the subject of your award entry, it has to tell the judges what it achieved and then why it mattered. An outcome can be as impressive as possible or as simple as receiving outstanding feedback. If you want to be short-listed and win business awards, the entry has to tell the story of how you got there – and tell it well.

It’s possible to bend a project to fit the criteria, but are you going to win awards? Will you even get shortlisted with an award entry that has been bent into position? It’s best to avoid this tactic – it’s not best practice.

Are you backing up your case?

The key to writing an award-winning entry is to bring journalistic rigour to the application process. Your PR team will an editorial angle and tell a story with a beginning, middle and end.

When you’re preparing the entry, think of the questions you’re likely to be asked if you’re sitting in front of the judging panel and relay those to your public relations advisors. They’ll have questions of their own for you to answer. Covering those points in the entry will increase your chance of being shortlisted.

The story falls down if there’s no evidence to support it. But it also has to be an interesting read – if it’s not, the judges are not going to bother with it. So try to read your submission from a neutral standpoint.

Remember the values of honesty. It’s simply not acceptable to lie as that undermines what the marketing and PR agency is setting out to achieve for its clients. Reputation, as ever, is everything.

You can be flexible with the truth and aim to make it sound as impressive as you can but if a claim in an award won’t stand up to scrutiny, Beattie’s PR advice is: don’t use it. As we say in our media training sessions, tell the truth – but tell it well.

Finally, remember it’s the judges that the entry has to please – not you. Be open to the PR advice.

Does it stand out?

Run-of-the-mill won’t cut it. You have to deliver a sharp, colourful and compelling story that demonstrates why its subject made all the difference and deserves to win.

Sometimes, you’re too close to the project to see if that’s the case. So take it to someone you trust within your company, but someone not-too-close to the project, to gather their opinions. Your PR team will have done the same in-house.

That outsider’s eye will spot any errors that may have slipped through and come up with angles you might not have considered.

Only once you’re fully satisfied is it time to submit the entry – and send your glad-rags to the dry cleaners. 

We know how your brand can influence the people who matter - and how to help you get the kudos you deserve. Call us now on 0800 612 9890 to discover more.