Winner winner chicken dinner! How to be an industry awards master

Ellie St George-Yorke, Account Director

As a PR you get to travel to many glamorous places and this week is no exception. Today team Acceleris will travel to Germany to attend the European PR Excellence Awards at the Ritz Carlton in Berlin. Eyelashes at the ready ladies!

These awards are the latest in a string of glitzy ceremonies for the team over the last few weeks with Award season certainly in full swing. Here’s my take on the benefits of entering awards and how to be the best at showcasing your work.

 

PR-ing a PR Agency

PR agencies are notorious for suffering from ‘cobblers’ children syndrome’ when it comes to shouting about their own achievements. While a new appointment, a client win or an industry award would be jumped on by a PR team for a client, PR agencies often either forget or are too busy to share their own successes, whether online or through the media.

About six years ago, we at Acceleris decided to change our approach and dedicate time and efforts to building our own brand using the same channels we would for many clients. We now have a dedicated team who identify comment and feature opportunities, draft and sell in press releases about agency achievements and enter all sorts of industry awards on behalf of the team.

This approach has really paid off with Acceleris having won almost 50 industry awards being presented to the agency since we started ten years ago. These have spanned Leeds and Yorkshire region as well as picking up trophies in London and on an international scale in Munich and Stockholm. And fingers crossed for the treble in Berlin tonight!

And it’s not just for us, this year we have successfully entered awards on behalf of a number of our clients including charities such as the Shipwrecked Mariners’ Society and Royal Alfred Seafarers’ Society, motoring clients Nexus Vehicle Rental, Vantage Motor Group and UK Fuels, social housing projects with the National Federation of ALMOs and Kier as well as Ainsty Inns and the National Federation of Fishermen’s Organisations.

 

Why should I enter industry awards?

Now, in the past we have come up for some scepticism when it comes to entering awards – phrases like ‘but surely the more you enter, the more you win’ and comments about the ethics of charging nominees to enter their submissions do get thrown around and there is always that question afterwards about ‘well what did they do that we don’t?’.

However awards are a great way of sharing the success of your business and motivating the teams involved. There is nothing better than a campaign you have worked hard on being recognised and cheered by a room of your peers. They are also a great way of adding credibility to your work and demonstrating how innovative or dedicated you are, how your company is a great place to work or why customers and clients should want to work with your team.

Top tips for award winning submissions

Having written award entries for the agency and for clients gives us a certain understanding of what makes a good submission but we have also been involved on the other side. Earlier this year I joined the judging panel for the CIPR PRide Awards through my role on the Yorkshire and Lincolnshire regional committee while our managing director Louise Vaughan judged the content marketing category at the PRCA national awards in the summer.

Our team has also helped with organising awards programmes, devising categories and booking hosts as well as promoting the winners and nominees through good old fashioned media relations. Some examples are the Fishing News Awards on behalf of client Kelsey Media, the Leeds Community Stars Awards for Leeds based social housing organisations and the annual awards programme for long-time client the National Federation of ALMOs for which we generated more than £300,000 in corporate sponsorship securing and delivering the programme at zero cost to the client.

 

Based on this combined experience as an awarganiser (for a definition read my blog from 2013), a judge and an award winner, here are my top five tips for writing killer award entries:

  1. Statistics are your friends – it’s all very well stating that ‘our staff and customers are happier than ever’ but you can see how a statement such as ‘customer satisfaction has risen by 95%’ or ‘we have a 100% staff retention rate’ give a much clearer and tangible outcome for a campaign
  1. Evidence – think of it like a murder trial, you have to demonstrate evidence to back up what you are claiming. Whether it’s statistics, client testimonials, case studies or profit calculations make sure that you back up what you are saying with some specific evidence
  1. Supporting material – choose wisely when it comes to submitting extra information to support your entry. My view is less is more. For the time poor judge who has more than 50 entries to read, your 1,000 slide presentation about every nuance of your project is not going to be too helpful – remember award programmes often have a word limit on submissions for a reason. I would say limit supporting evidence to no more than four pages and include plenty of images to bring to life what is described in your entry
  1. Read the question! I know this is a clique from GCSE history exams but if you don’t answer the questions and criteria set out by the category, the judges won’t be able to give you high scores, no matter how great the project sounds
  1. Keep it simple – while you have been living and breathing the project or business you are submitting, judges will likely approaching the topic with no previous experience – spell out acronyms and avoid jargon to avoid losing the judges’ attention.

Good luck and keep your fingers crossed for us for Berlin!

 

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