The most successful companies in your industry likely have a few things in common. They introduce new, innovative ideas to the space; they’re focused on winning and retaining happy customers; and competitors, end users and influencers alike recognize their work.
One way industry success and influence can manifest is in editorial awards. While you can visit any company’s website and scroll through its history of awards won, PR and marketing pros are familiar with the internal side of the process. From strategically choosing which awards your company should apply for over the course of a year, to drafting a winning application and promoting your status as a winner, any award that proves its worth for the company requires significant thought and effort. Industry-based editorial awards are too valuable to be left to chance. Below are some tips for strengthening your awards program and enhancing its ROI:
Don’t burn yourself out. It would be great to win every award (and speaking opportunity) related to your field, but application processes can be lengthy – and expensive. Whether you’re internally managing your awards program or working with a PR firm, don’t burn your resources applying for every opportunity that crosses your inbox. To identify which awards in your industry should be considered a priority, consider your own marketing and PR goals. Are you looking to generate leads? Build local recognition and community relationships? Gain influence in relation to specific competitors? Establish new partnerships? The reasons you’re applying for awards can help weed out the opportunities that may not serve your business in the end.
Know that relationships matter. Successful PR depends on healthy relationships with influencers in your industry, and award (and speaking opportunity) application processes are no different. Some of the most valuable award programs in your field are likely managed by publications you read or organizations you interact with daily. Make an effort to build ongoing, mutually beneficial relationships with the people running those shows – keep up with the topics they’re writing about, engage with them on social media, share updates about your customer and partner wins as they occur, and be mindful of their preferences. Each component will help establish a two-way relationship and an overall sense of familiarity about your business and its mission.
Don’t start from scratch. Before you fill out the award, consider if your team has previously published a blog, byline or white paper that applies to the prompt. You may already have the ingredients a stellar award application at your disposal – as long as you can update the content for a new purpose. After you’ve finished the award application, extend the life of your work. Perhaps you learned insights about your CEO’s background upon which to base a PR pitch, or a compelling industry trend that would make a great blog.
Get creative. Determine the limitations of your award submission, and if you can include creative elements to help your application shine. Perhaps you can add an infographic to demonstrate results, include customer quotes for a third-party perspective, or use a unique format to express the details about your product, solution or company. If the award organizers welcome inventive submissions, your team can act on a major opportunity.
Write with your reviewer in mind. When you’re crafting any piece of PR or marketing content, write for a human audience. The person reviewing your award may have already read 50 similar submissions this week. Simple, well-told stories will always help your work stand out and prove the merit of your application. To make your award even more compelling, consider how familiar the reviewer might be with your corner of your industry. If your audience is technical, highlighting your product’s specific components may support your credibility; if the award is organized by a more high-level or business-focused organization, you’ll want your award to stay out of the weeds.
Finally, proofread your work. From an award reviewer’s perspective, few things are more frustrating than reading through copy errors and grammatical mishaps in final applications.