Practical Pointers Blog

Five Tips for an Award-Winning Award Submission

October 29, 2021

Who doesn’t love a good awards ceremony? The over-the-top fashions, the acceptance speeches and the build-up that comes with the opening of an envelope keep most of us on the edge of our seats – or couches.

Often just as exciting, and certainly meaningful, are business awards that elevate the reputations of the recipients, whether they are regional or industry-specific. Winning a prestigious award can put a company on the map, help a nonprofit get in front of more would-be donors or differentiate one business from the next.

A perfect example is found in the story of an entrepreneur who relayed how she was surprised when she started getting strange inquiries to buy her firm, even though she never expressed interest in doing so. Why had the phone been ringing? After a few of these calls, the lightbulb went off: they had seen the major awards the agency won in nationally ranked programs and took notice.

For years, she wrote off submitting for these awards, thinking they were a waste of time, but now she realized how important they really were. The recognition put her on the radar of would-be clients, partners and even her eventual purchaser.

With that, let’s state the obvious. Not all awards are created equal. In fact, some are even scammy shakedowns, so the first step is to do some due diligence to ensure the awards program is a genuine opportunity in the first place.

If you vet the opportunity and it’s legit, here are some tips to help you improve your odds of nabbing that noteworthy award and the sweet recognition that comes with it:

  1. As RuPaul says, “You better work.” While a story can be well-framed and stellar writing helps, there’s no substitute for putting in the hard work or getting the results worthy of that golden statue or plaque. If you’re faking it until you make it, take this advice: spend that energy doing worthy things instead of chasing the spotlight.
  2. Write the script, then edit the script. Much like a thrilling feature film, an award nomination should be well-written and edited to sharpen the story down to the absolute best narrative. Include anecdotes to demonstrate points, share percentage increases and numbers, compare to industry benchmarks and tug at the ole heartstrings. Not sure if it’s compelling enough? Ask someone not so close to it to give it a read-through.
  3. Call in the supporting actors. Just as a movie would be boring without a cast of characters, the best award nominations often include testimonials, letters of recommendation and outside evidence to show success. It’s easy to have one person sing someone’s praises, but far more impressive when it’s a whole chorus riffing in unison.
  4. In the wise words of the late Joan Rivers, “I wish I could tell you it gets better. It doesn’t get better. YOU get better.” Speaking of putting in the hard work, know that if you don’t win an award the first time, and you keep doing what you do best, it’s likely your nomination will strengthen over time. Some of our clients have won a key award the second or third time we helped them apply, leading to an even sweeter victory phone call to share that fabulous news.
  5. Make like Sally Field and scream, “You really like me!” If you win a big award, especially if it was a total surprise, go on and gush a bit and share the news with the people who really, really like you. Whether in a news release, captioned photo, blog post, social media update or refresh to your resume or LinkedIn profile, know that your true fans want to celebrate with you.