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Awards1As summer comes to a close, we’re about to enter the height of awards season! No, I’m not talking about the upcoming Emmy awards and we’re nowhere near Hollywood’s official awards season that seems to stretch on for months at the beginning of the year. Rather, I’m referring to personal and industry awards, many of which are currently open or will soliciting call for nominations in the coming weeks and months. From top 40 under 40 to projects of the year, every industry offers awards opportunities. As we’ve previously discussed, awards can be great credentialing tools. However, crafting successful award entries takes time and a creative story. Before you dive into awards season, here are five questions you need to ask:

  1. Is it worth it? The first question is really the most important. There are hundreds of awards and best of lists that you could try to attain. There are even companies with the sole purpose of running awards programs to make money. Some awards programs require a fee and that isn’t necessarily a red flag. Rather, take a closer look at the program. Research how long it’s been established and its reputation. Trade associations and media outlets are great places to find legitimate and respected awards. Also, don’t forget to take a look at awards and recognition that your competitors tout.
  2. Can I leverage this award? Building on the research phase of the first question, you also need to consider how you can leverage the award if you win. Will it help credential you? It’s important to find awards that will highlight your expertise and what differentiates you from others. Awards also can be leveraged by listing them on websites and celebrating them on social media. Depending on the award, there can be valuable PR and recruitment opportunities. Many awards are even great business development tools. You should closely examine your complete ROI when considering the time and resources needed to submit an award.
  3. Do we qualify? Once you have identified awards that fit for your goals and industry, look closely at the eligibility requirements. Don’t try to sneak a fast one past the judges; it usually never works and you won’t get any award fees back. The call for nominations typically include detailed instructions and qualifications. Review them all very carefully. If you have a great project that’s not yet finished, you may be better served by waiting for next year than trying to make it fit. So many people just breeze over the instructions and qualifications, but they can be your map to success.
  4. Is there a person or project that can win? Similar to the qualifications, ask yourself some tough questions. Does your company have a person or project that could really win? We all know nice people and might think a project our company completed was cool, but you need to have a critical eye. Stiff competition is common with many awards and you want to ensure that you’re positioned for success. If you’re not sure, ask some colleagues or others in your industry for their feedback. An external perspective could prove very helpful. Additionally, research previous winners as they are the best indicator of what judges are looking for.
  5. How can I tell my story? Now that you’ve got an appropriate award and a great project or person, you can start working on the award submission. Again, pay attention to the guidelines for submitting an award, especially any word limits or supporting materials. When crafting your submission, think of it like a story. It should be compelling and grab the judges’ attention. Paint a picture and provide context as much as possible. Specifics are always helpful and anecdotes can bring an award submission to life.

As you’re preparing for awards season, ask yourself these five questions to help make your submission as strong as it can be. Then, get those acceptance speeches ready!