Brian LaRue March 2, 2024 | 02:04:32

Top Ways To Lose An Industry Award in 2024

It might feel like 2024 has just started, but in the tech PR business, “awards season” has a way of creeping up on PR and marketing teams. It’s important decide early which achievements, leaders, and stories you want to highlight.

Industry awards are an important part of a PR strategy, especially for B2B brands. An award is a stamp of approval from a trusted, authoritative source, and typically from a panel of judges who are respected industry figures. But the goal is not merely to get your name in front of the judges. The goal is to win. What it takes to win depends on the requirements of the specific award, plus relevance to the award’s audience. But we can see some common ways companies set themselves up to lose. In 2024, course-correct if you find yourself slipping toward any of these mistakes.

You’re speaking too soon 

Of course a business is going to be excited about a new product or initiative. Why do it in the first place if it isn’t worth getting excited about? And industry awards programs often value newness. But what they really value is results. And if you’re aiming for an award for a product or initiative that hasn’t delivered quantifiable results yet, you’re not doing yourself any favors.

The latest successful thing stands a much better chance of winning than the latest thing, period. Consider a high-profile awards program like AdExchanger’s Programmatic Power Players, or the Digiday Award; these encourage businesses to trumpet their proudest moments of the previous 12 months. But you also know who else is going to want to enter such a visible award, and it’s potentially every ad tech business you can think of. You can talk all you want about how your product will benefit the marketplace. You’re going to be competing against businesses that are already doing it.

You don’t have a story

Let’s say you do have clear results and statistics you can shout from the rooftops. Stats make for great bullet points. They look amazing on a landing page. But bullet points alone don’t fully explain why the numbers matter. You need to contextualize and tell a story in order to explain why what you’re doing is special in the marketplace. What problem are you solving, and why did that problem desperately need to be solved? What’s day-to-day life currently like for the people who are impacted by your efforts? You’re putting this award submission in front of human judges who have a lot to try to remember, so it’s important to humanize the subject and make it memorable

Everyone else is doing the same thing

The tech marketplace is competitive, and so is the tech job market. You can have a product or service, or elements of your workplace culture, that are actually pretty great in and of themselves, but are essentially table stakes in the bigger picture. In my own industry awards work, I’ve been seeing a number of workplace awards programs that openly tell entrants some variation of, “Happy hours aren’t enough.” And when you’re looking at high-visibility awards that draw entries across multiple industries – such as a Crain’s Best Places to Work or an International Business Awards (the Stevies) – the task of standing out must be taken very seriously. A couple years ago, I remember seeing a judge for a high-profile ad tech award tweet that they would not be considering any “janky” identity solutions. Look, launching any ID solution is a major feat! But it’s not enough to have simply cleared the bar. You still need to show you’re delivering something the competition is not.

You’re telling the wrong story for the award

There’s nothing wrong with entering the same business leader, product, or initiative into multiple awards programs. At Crenshaw, we can and do win industry awards this way. But you’ll need to adapt your message and focus for each one. If it asks for a case study, the judges want to see a business case study, rather than, say, a description of what a tech platform delivers to its broader marketplace. There are occasions for highlighting an individual campaign, and occasions for highlighting a tech platform. It’s important to get your collateral in order first, so you can align it with the requirements of any specific award.

You don’t sound excited

In B2B PR, marketing, and communications, we often make an effort to sound calm, measured, and cool-headed. In a lot of instances, that’s what feels professional and authoritative. Industry awards aren’t among those instances. If you’re not willing to be effusive in an award entry, no one’s going to do it for you. Colorful language frequently connects with judges. You want the judges to understand life wouldn’t be the same without the thing or person you’re describing. The trick is to sound excited without lapsing into jargon. Jargon is what people fall back on when they’re struggling to describe something, and you can avoid it if you’re enthusiastic enough about the subject to describe it in a meaningful way.

How to position your business to win industry awards

Once you get a handle on how not to write a business award submission, how to do it well becomes much clearer. If you want to win an industry award in 2024 – which you do – take a look at any winning entries you can from previous years. A PR agency partner can be an invaluable resource to this end: At Crenshaw Communications, we’ve been submitting and winning awards for adtech and B2B tech businesses, including industry incumbents and insurgents, for years.

A PR partner can bring deep institutional knowledge of how industry award judges think, and what the competition might be up to. An exceptional product, service, initiative, or leader deserves an exceptional message that wins industry awards in 2024. Make sure you have the right team and resources in place to pull ahead this year.

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