Applying for industry awards can be a tedious task, but the effort becomes more rewarding when it is supported by a good publicity plan.
I recently had the privilege of preparing award applications for two clients; namely Barb Kyes of ActionCOACH Pinellas, who is now a finalist for the St. Petersburg Chamber of Commerce “Distinguished Business Woman of the Year” award, and Chad Dudeck of Geo-Logical, who we just submitted for the Ernst & Young “Entrepreneur of the Year” award.
There is a lot of momentum and power behind just being nominated for an award, and it increases exponentially if you become a finalist – and explodes if you actually win!
For example, back in 2009, another Heidelberg PR client, Karen Gillman of Intelligent Office, was nominated for Business Leader of the Year and Small Business of the Year with the Tampa Chamber of Commerce. It was such an honor for her and her team, and it was really easy to find people ready to celebrate her success with her — especially in the media.
On just the nomination alone, Karen’s news was covered in her former hometown newspaper where she grew up, in the newspapers of her current hometown of Plant City, Fla., and in the print and television outlets of the major metro media market of Tampa, Fla., where her business is located. Furthermore, industries referenced in the news release — strawberry growers, virtural office news sources, and health care web sites — found something of interest in the story of a midwestern farm girl who left home and ultimately found success as a corporate leader.
If you are nominated and progress to any advanced stage in an awards process, think hard on the “who cares” question and then prepare to tell your story through news releases, social media and other updates to a variety of targets. Here’s a quick checklist to help you thoroughly maximize this great publicity opporutunity. Now is not the time to be shy! I’ll give you the “who” and a little bit of the “how” — but it’s up to you to determine the means of communication that best suits each audience for you and your company.
Your Community at Large
Tell the local news media your story with a press release, include the appropriate business media
Make space on your web site to post your news release or add a splash to your homepage
Your Business Community
Tell your networking groups; leverage their news updates, web sites, social media and newsletter
Tell your chamber of commerce; leverage their communication outlets too!
Tell your Facebook Fans
Tweet a shout out to your followers
Post your news on your blog
Your Industry Colleagues
Tell your professional associations; leverage the power of their communication vehicles
Tell the trade publications and online news outlets by sending them your news release
Tell your network on LinkedIn
Your Hometown Community
Tell your hometown newspapers (and other media if appropriate). Your sixth-grade teacher, your best friend’s mom and your high school team members still care!
Your Alumni Association
Tell the alumni publicaiton at your alma mater. You’ll make them look good!
Your Current Business Contacts
Tell your employees, your board of advisors, your vendors and your customers!
Your Current and Future Business Prospects
Put a blurb on your e-mail signature and remind everyone you communicate with on e-mail of the fact that your company is exceptional.
Your Personal Contacts
Your never know where your next customer might come from. Tell your church, tell your bowling league, your family and your neighbors!
But wait! There’s more!
Did you realize as you read these suggestions that you do not have to lay out any cash at all to take advantage of these opportunities following this “do-it-yourself” format? Wow — now I know you are really loving this!
It varies, of course, but typically you can prepare a great award application in three to seven hours, at least for the initial submission (this doesn’t count interviews and follow up submissions). It might sound like a lot of time to invest, but if you plan effectively, there are long lead times for the application period and you can work on your application over several weeks. Just be careful, in the end, to ensure that you have all the required pieces ready for submission and get it in on time.
Best of luck to you in securing your next award and the great publicity that will come with it. (I’m writing this on St. Patrick’s Day to give you little extra luck!)