Awards can be a gold mine for public relations professionals to leverage client exposure and boost their reputation. News stories and articles are essential, but they have a shelf life. Awards – independent, third-party validation of excellence – are forever.
The application process isn’t always easy. When prestigious awards are up for grabs, count on multitudes of highly qualified applicants (and their PR firms) seeking to distinguish their work and bolster an image as an industry leader. You need to do anything and everything to position your product, service, or company executive as unique in each category and as superior to every other applicant (maddeningly, you generally won’t know the other applicants). Here are some tips to keep in mind during the process.
Step up the research. Positioning your candidate as unique and superior in a given category requires an examination of everything you know about the market, competition, projections, etc. Do the research and ask the right questions to submit a successful award application. This will force you to take stock of everything you know and will identify potential gaps in your knowledge. A side benefit: Ensuring your inventory is complete will yield information you will use throughout the life of a campaign.
Get to know principals. Awards for individuals provide the impetus to get to know your client or company principals in a more personal way than time generally permits, but it’s worth it on both sides. When thoughtfully conducted, these interviews yield pearls of wisdom, experiences and rich anecdotes you can use for strategic exposure and engagement in other media.
Promote, promote, promote. In addition to the traditional announcements – industry and “hometown winner” – get the word out via press releases, website adds, newsletters, and on social media. Ask groups, collaborators or peers in your industry to share the news. Have the winner consider adding the award to his e-mail signature. Your applicant isn’t just a “Chief Scientific Officer,” he’s a “Medical Design Excellence Award” winner.
And keep in mind… Awards tend to beget more awards. Once you have the process down, applying for others is far less daunting and more likely to succeed. Keeping detailed notes, agendas, recaps and other documentation will also make the application process much easier, as will notes on conversations you have with your collaborators.