We've been nominated for an award: what now?

Jan 13, 2015

A client got in touch recently to say her product had been nominated for an award. While this prestigious award was chosen by a panel of judges based on undisclosed criteria, the final winner was chosen by popular vote. My client had four days until the voting closed and she wondered what on earth she should do to maximise this opportunity on social media.

Waterford Bicycle Club team with their silverware. There's something very strange going on with all of their faces, but the trophies are far clearer in this one... Again, this one was ordered by a Mr Keane, who may have lived or worked on Henrietta Street, Waterford. Date: Sunday, 4 July 1909 NLI Ref.: P_WP_1944


Having been on the organising end of awards and a volunteer judge in others I can be a little cynical about the value of them. However I have also seen some organisations really make the most of the opportunity. Here are my tips with a little insider knowledge. Please bear in mind, events organisers are a little like magicians: we never give away ALL our secrets ;-)

  1. As soon as possible after you hear about your nomination, write down how you feel about it. Given a little polish, this raw emotion will come in incredibly useful for social content and media quotes as you write about the nomination (and possible win) over the coming period.
  2. Continue with your planned content strategy, taking the nomination into consideration where possible. You know why you planned an ezine, a blog post, press release, or an ebook launch for this particular period: don’t let the glistening award derail your careful planning.
  3. Do make a realistic plan to make the most of the opportunity. Make a timeline using pen and paper, a calendar, a spreadsheet, Gantt chart, whatever you use to plot activity over time which includes the key dates for the award, key dates and deliverables for your ACTUAL, REAL, previously planned day-to-day work. Narrow your eyes and be VERY realistic about the amount of time you can actually spend on making the most of this opportunity. Remember while it might make your halo shine a little more around the office, this award for excellence might mean diddly squat to your clients and customers. It could be especially galling for them if they see you tweeting/ facebooking/ blogging about an award if they feel their experience with you is not to be prized.
  4. Given the amount of time you can spend on it, make a list of MEASURABLE objectives you would like to achieve from promoting the nomination, objectives that you could realistically achieve in the time available to you. This could be media coverage, increased engagement on Twitter and Facebook, or knock-on growth in sales, bookings and leads generated. Make sure your objectives are realistic:  media coverage, a reason to contact your subscribers, an opportunity to grow sales through celebratory discounts.
  5. Write a press release and ensure that you craft individualised emails to each media outlet to which you send it. Preferably send it to an actual person at that media outlet and either precede your email with a call to them or follow up with a phone call. This all takes time: have you enough time to do this? Do you need to engage a PR specialist? If you do ensure that there is a written agreement about what you can realistically expect them to achieve.
  6. Also ensure that you send the press release to the event organisers. When working on awards events previously I sometimes would have given my two eye teeth for a thoughtfully crafted quote from a nominee to include in my own press release and on the organisation’s site.
  7. This is a great opportunity to email your subscribers with a defined action: “Please vote for us!” but remember ask them once and maintain your usual practice of sending them useful, informative or exclusive content for your Very Important Subscribers.
  8. Tell the story of how you, your team or your product went from zero to hero. Readers love stories and if there’s captivating characters involved as well, you are onto a winner.
  9. A picture is worth a thousand words: clichéd but true. Source strong, high resolution imagery and video of the nominated product or service provision team and be sure to share this with the appropriate media outlets and event organisers too.
  10. If your category is sponsored, reach out and introduce yourself to the sponsor. Offer them your promotional collateral too in case they are looking for content to share in online and offline media. Be sure to tweak it to acknowledge their generous support. Namecheck and link to them where possible. Be gracious!
  11. Consider interviewing your category competitors on your blog, podcast or video channel. This can work really well for non-industry specific awards like the Net Visionary Awards, Web Awards, Blog Awards Ireland or the brand new SME Awards because you are often in a category that doesn’t pit Shoe Shops against Shoe Shops but rather online retailers against totally unrelated online retailers. You could make some great connections!
  12. Make a separate plan for the possibility that you might win! Don’t forget your short and sweet speech :)

Many awards allow companies and organisations to nominate themselves. If this is the case for awards for which your organisation is eligible, this can be included in your annual content strategy. If you have the resources, it is worth considering sponsoring awards, as it will allow you to act on all the above tips without the risk of not being judged worthy of the final cut.

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