Making the Most of Industry Awards
Emily Embury is an Account Executive with with C. Blohm & Associates, Inc., a public relations firm specializing in the education industry.
Each year, numerous education associations, organizations and publications offer a number of industry award programs. Examples include the Software & Information Industry Association’s CODiE Awards, Learning’s Teachers’ Choice Awards and The Association of Educational Publishers’ Distinguished Achievement Awards.
Applying for industry awards offers many benefits. Participating in awards programs strengthens your company’s reputation and gives you an edge over competitors if you are named a finalist or winner. It boosts morale – being recognized for excellence makes employees feel good about being part of a winning team – and helps with recruiting efforts. The news also fares well with company stakeholders, such as board members, investors, etc. But most importantly, receiving awards builds awareness of your company and its products within the education industry.
Research & Selection
The first step is to identify which awards are appropriate for your company and products, and, depending on the cost and application process, to select the programs you would like to enter. Submission fees vary by competition, ranging from none to $500 per entry. Fees may be reduced if you are a member of the sponsoring association. The application process varies according to the requirements of the award organization. Some awards require a simple application, while others may call for a series of essays describing your company and product. Each of these factors will impact your decision to enter a particular awards program.
Once you have selected an awards program, it’s important to keep the deadline in mind.
Many competitions offer several deadlines, each associated with a different application fee. Generally, the earlier you enter the less it costs. The application form needs to be completed and product samples submitted for judging, the latter step being contingent on the number of judges. Preview accounts should be submitted for online products; for others, actual product is required. Depending on the competition, product demonstrations for the judges may be allowed. You might also consider sending a company media kit, to provide the judges with additional information.
After months of patient waiting, award applicants typically receive notification via email. Some award programs announce finalists first, followed by the winners a month or two later. Winners may be announced at a reception during an organization’s annual event. Sometimes, finalists and winners are presented with a certificate, or an engraved plaque, to recognize their achievements. Furthermore, companies may receive an award logo for use on their Web site, marketing materials, and other communications. Displaying this logo will reveal the honor to current and prospective customers, further increasing your brand credibility and awareness.
Earning an industry award presents the perfect promotional opportunity. When a company has been recognized as a finalist or winner, either event warrants a news release. The announcement should include a quote from the company and the award organization, and be distributed to trade media that cover industry news, as well as to local media. (Note – if the award organization is an education trade publication, it’s recommended that the release not be distributed to competing publications.) Capitalizing on this publicity opportunity adds value to the award, and enhances your company’s visibility and reputation within the education industry.