In the last couple of years, Red Agency has brought home over 30 awards, including 2014 winning Large PR Agency of the Year (CommsCon), 2013 PR Consultancy of the Year (PRWeek Asia Awards), 2013 Campaign of the Year (PRIA Golden Target Awards) and several other awards for numerous campaigns including 5 Cannes Lions. Last year, we were the most awarded PR agency in Australia.
There’s often a lot of criticism that PR agencies are weak at “PR-ing” themselves. But receiving an award can be one of the most effective PR tools we can use to improve our reputation in the industry – with our media friends, potential clients and of course, the general public. Winning a noteworthy award puts you straight on the map of who’s who in the industry and propels you to the forefront of everyone’s agenda. Our Managing Director says that the biggest plus of winning awards is that it helps us attract and retain the best people, because people want to work for an agency that do ground-breaking and inspirational work.
One of the best examples of how an award can change a reputation and build awareness for a person or a company is the much respected Nobel Peace Prize. Anyone who wins one immediately earns more credibility and authority in their chosen field. Win one, and you’re sure to be taken seriously wherever you go – especially in the boardroom. This is the sort of positive reputation and recognition that money can’t buy.
Awards improve image, and also acknowledges the contributions the individual or the organisation has made to the industry/community.
On the flip side, an organisation can also create their own awards program to help build their profile and reputation within their industry and target audience. In Australia, BRW’s Best Place to Work program has propelled an already strong business publication to become one of the most respected authority in business reporting, and today serves as a benchmark for successful corporations operating in Australia. Telstra’s Business Women’s Awards highlights the telco’s investment in supporting remarkable businesswomen who continue to inspire people through their leadership, innovation and courage. The awards serve as a platform to help Telstra – and their awards participants – broaden their reach for business opportunities and expanding their network along the way.
Based on our experience with entering awards and helping clients run their own award program, here are some guidelines for companies contemplating creating their own:
- Your awards program should honour and reward an achievement that speaks to your business’ core mission. For example, a health and fitness company might recognise the best dietitians, and a food magazine would award the best restaurants. Our client, Stayz.com.au rewards the best short term accommodations in Australia based on several categories such as Most Romantic, Family Friendly and Budget.
- Stick to a firm timetable, but be prepared right from the start to provide an early bird entry (if you plan to charge an entry fee) as well as an extension to the awards submission deadline.
- Transparency is key. The judging panel should be fair and non-biased. If possible, invite third party jurors whose competence level is high and is well-respected in their field. With more than 60 awards under his belt and 15 years in the PR industry, our MD, James Wright was invited to join the panel of judges at three prestigious international award shows, the Cannes Lions, Cristal Festival and the CLIOs, in addition to the recent CommsCon Award here in Australia.
- Approach an official government body, or a media outlet, to endorse the Awards program. This adds more credibility to the Awards and you can also use their network to promote the program further.
- Whether it’s a trophy or a certificate, make sure they look good and are presented properly. There’s nothing worse than receiving a flimsy paper document as a badge of honour. If possible, commission an artist to design a unique trophy, or set the certificate in a beautiful, high-quality frame.
- Get the year right! Awards honour the work achieved during the year that was, hence the trophy or certificate needs to reflect that. An award presented in 2014 would therefore refer to work completed in 2013.
- Hold the award ceremony in a nice venue. Don’t scrimp on this one – your awardees need to feel important on this day. Any VIPs you invite will also feel special if you host the ceremony at a sophisticated venue.
- If possible, invite a note-worthy keynote speaker to add status and flair to the event. This special person should hopefully award one of the most coveted accolades at the event.
- Most importantly, try to get as much publicity for your awards prior, during and after the program. Good PR can drive call for entries, promoting your brand to your target audience, and effective publicity post-awards by profiling the winners serve as great case studies with future clients and the media. The media are always looking for “feel good” stories about “unsung heroes” and of course, your company as sponsor of the award also gains some brownie points in the process.
If your company is not in the position to create and run your own awards program, there are many existing programs out there that are open to individual award sponsorships. Follow rule number one and make sure that the award you sponsor has a natural fit and direct correlation to your brand offering. The closer the relation, the better.
Written by Account Director Elizabeth McKenzie