Awards: Abundance or Acceptable Routine?

When I worked in professional sports, the awards season naturally fell in May and June as the NBA Playoffs were ramping up. Then I went to the agency world for a couple of years and it seemed like the awards season was February-March. In local government I have found the surge to be April-May for state and national parks and recreation award programs.

In May alone, there were four Valley association award banquets (small business, business communications, marketing and special events); given our long hot summers, this month appears to be the traditional peak/conclusion of the local award season. Seasoned pros, MarComm denizens and skeptics may turn a jaded eye at the high volume of local awards. However, companies can do their due diligence in evaluating calls for nominations even when they don’t appear relevant or compelling at first glance. Sure, you have to pick your spots for manpower and see what works with budgets. You can’t spend $75-$150 (often 10-30% more for non-members) and three days compiling the necessary materials to submit for every call for entry.

Are there too many awards given out there? That might be said on the national level for sports and entertainment. Does this abundance make the publicity of winners excessive or annoying? Or are they just another acceptable component of each respective industry or association that sponsors or presents the honors?

Awards for Four Seasons

I think we all know there is no true “awards season” given such a wide spectrum of year-round opportunities and call for entries that sprout up form different industries and corresponding professional associations. I have a propensity for posting local business or communications award notifications for individuals, clients or organizations on LinkedIn and Twitter. I do this as a habit that is a holdover from my agency years. When I am on my personal Twitter account, I feel compelled to share any award information with followers as some of them may have a client that fits the bill; or maybe the criteria is a match for them or a friend or colleague of theirs.

Sharing the Notifications

My reasons for spreading the word on honors and accolade avenues is probably three-fold: part altruism for the PR/marketing community members that may follow me; part curiosity to see if others are already aware of the information and part social media pro bono to help that sponsoring organization to generate a higher rate of nominations or applications.

Categories, Nominations & Applications

It’s amazing how the awards spectrum spans so many categories and criteria – best benefits, most innovative, most creative, fastest growing, most likely to be sustainable for years to come and so on. Sure, every company wants to be knighted as a great place to work, so they can brag to friends, relatives, neighbors and favorite bartender, but it is important to realize the other intangible rewards that can arise from receiving an honor, regardless if some deem it to be provincial or low on the prestige scale. Any independent, third-party validation of a company, its benefits or a specific successful campaign it executed will garner valuable earned press coverage. Another important outlet for awareness is to promote it on your website, letterhead, marketing collateral and staff email signatures. The exposure and word-of-mouth that can accompany an award can contribute to employee morale, recruitment efforts and the prospect of generating potential new business leads.

Obviously, the best awards are the ones where you were recognized or selected by a third party and without you having to fill out any forms or applications. It appears that really only occurs in the sports, entertainment, research and literary fields for the most prominent accolades. Even if you or your organization have to self-nominate or on behalf of a client, the writing and collateral packaging process can still be a worthwhile exercise. Compiling the application, which on the surface may appear to be an extremely vain, self-promoting endeavor, has the potential to be a productive, interdepartmental or collaborative team-building project, generate healthy dialogue as to the state of your portfolio or company case studies and reveal areas where new ideas or more efficient methods can be implemented. Even when you receive that form letter or rejection email for not making the cut, you might still find use for any of the award narratives, perhaps re-purposing them as a case study or overview on your web site press room.

As awards posts, re-Tweets, brochures and eblast reminders pop up on your screen, consider taking a few minutes to scan the notices to assess if any of them present a good fit for you professionally or your company. Then it may be time to kick it into project management gear to delegate personnel and resources and develop the entries and required supplemental materials, testimonials or references.

It’s always nice to add a plaque or trophy to the office shelf to showcase to visitors, new colleagues or prospective clients. Everyone enjoys the proverbial pat on the back or kudos in the press now and then. If we were shy or modest, we wouldn’t be savvy public relations and marketing professionals, right? Good luck on your next entry!

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