Leveraging Your Award, the Public Relations Way
Whether we admit it or not, we all want to be recognized for the work we do. Be it a casual “atta-boy” from your boss, encouragement from a friend, or even simply the sign of general interest from a new acquaintance, recognition feels good. In one form or another, organizations, too, seek accreditation because it keeps them moving forward.
In what I call “The Commenter Era,” everybody’s a critic. We review everything — the movie you just saw in theaters to the vegan taco truck down the street — the list doesn’t end. There’s no denying the power of the mobile influencer and businesses are right to appease them. I’ll argue, though, that efforts are perhaps better spent locking down third-party accreditation from other professional entities. Winning an award can be the most successful way to do this.
Here’s a brief walk-through of the process of winning an award for your organization and how to ensure you get some coverage for your hard work. Maybe soon, your website’s front page will look like this:
Step 1A: Do good work…
This should go without saying, but in order for your organization or an executive within your organization to win an award, you need to actually be doing award-worthy work. Having said this, the work you’re doing should not be motivated by an award you want to win — let the award be the reward for the brilliant work your organization already considers standard practice.
Step 1B: Choose wisely.
Being nominated for a prestigious award sounds great, but in most cases it doesn’t work like that — more often than not, your organization will have to submit your work to a particular competition (I will get to this process). It seems that there are awards for nearly every business category, given by every type of organization imaginable. This means that some awards would be more work to acquire than they’re worth. For instance, I’m not sure we at Veracity would benefit too much from being named “Best Public Relations Agency in the World” by my Dad’s blog — although he may think so! Moral of the story, put your time into throwing your hat in the ring for an award that is both attainable and helpful to your organization.
Step 2: Writing the entry form.
Honesty time: if your submission isn’t written the right way, you can just ignore the following steps. Here is where the real art of the PR agency comes into play. In public relations, we take an outsiders’ perspective to create a narrative for the work of your organization, that you might not have even known was there. We then tell that story to the most fitting audience using the most fitting language. Crafting and adhering to the right messaging goes a long way. Here is where the PR professional will have a field day. Make sure that you follow ALL of the directions on the entry form. If it asks for the answers in less than 500 words, don’t submit 700 words and hope they don’t care — details like this are important! Complete the entire entry and make sure it’s submitted on-time.
Step 3: Win.
Assuming you have performed Step 2 correctly, there is not much more you can do now but sit it out, twiddle your thumbs, keep cranking out that award-worthy work and wait to hear from the powers that be. That is unless there is a voting or social media portion of the winning criteria. In this case, call on your network to help you win.
Step 4: Flaunt your prize!
It’s time to leverage the culmination of your hard work via your owned channels: your website, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn pages. You can promote your award the same way you would any good press hit, considering your internal, external, partner and paid opportunities. This is also a great time to play good-sport — send shout outs on your social channels to the institution that gave you the award, as well as any other winners or nominees. If the award is one that you wanted, that means other people did too. On this note, make sure your internal team is flaunting the win as well!
Step 5: Earn some media play.
Local outlets want to celebrate their community’s organizations, and you’ve just given them all a great opportunity. If a specific person at your company has won the award, submit it to the Business Journal’s People on the Move section, which has a category for professional recognition. Next, draw up a press release that details the award you won, and more importantly, the project or campaign you won it for — getting traction that celebrates your work in the press is really the target in mind. Building up an invested cadre of outlets that will cover your organization and your story will do wonders in the long-run as you grow and continue to produce award-worthy work.
The process of winning an award can be long and daunting, but the returns and connections as a result will make waves. We all seek accreditation in some form or another. Public relations can help you get recognition for that recognition, all in an attempt to drive your organization forward.