The Ins and Outs of Award Submissions

As much as we all thought high school was behind us, in a lot of ways working in business can feel like we’re back at prom, hoping to win that coveted crown. The good news? Winning an award for your business isn’t a popularity contest. Criteria include skill, talent and a killer submission that’s going to blow the judges away. Submitting to industry awards can be an intimidating process, but winning them can have huge benefits for your business, including sales growth, brand recognition and recognition as an industry expert. The competition can be fierce, so bring your A-game and review these guidelines in advance.

Where to apply
Award submissions take time and money (yes, there is often a fee), so you want to be sure you’re using that time wisely by applying to those organizations that align with your business and goals. While doing your research, ask yourself: Why do I want to win this award? Is it to increase business and get more recognition? Is it to stand out from competitors? If that award is going to help you accomplish those things, then you know it’s worth the effort. 

Photo courtesy Don Mears Photography

Building your application
Once you’ve decided where you’re going to submit, it’s time to build your application. Lots of people hate the idea of selling themselves in this way, but believe it or not, you already do it all the time. Every time you walk into a sales meeting and book a new client, you’re selling yourself and your business.

Before you write down a single word, be sure you’ve read and re-read the guidelines. Accidentally forgetting something or exceeding maximum word counts could mean disqualification. As tedious as it might seem, the directions are there for a reason, so follow them to the letter. 

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You want to strike a conversational tone that explains the event in a voice that is uniquely yours. Avoid using too many acronyms or industry jargon, and make sure that all the elements flow together with smooth transitions. 

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From there, map out your game plan. Start with any photos, diagrams, budgets, seating charts, etc. that you want to use, and build your first draft from there. You want to strike a conversational tone that explains the event in a voice that is uniquely yours. Avoid using too many acronyms or industry jargon, and make sure that all the elements flow together with smooth transitions. Don’t worry, if this part of the awards process scares you, there are plenty of writers or colleagues you can hire to help. 

Perhaps the most important thing to do is give yourself ample time to finish. Your submission could suffer if you’re trying to hit the deadline at the last possible second, so make it a priority well in advance to avoid mistakes and unnecessary stress. 

Waiting it out
As with most things in life, waiting is the hardest part. If you do receive good news, start promoting it! Hop on social media to announce your win and dedicate a blog post to it as well. Make sure you include a big thank you to your team for their hard work and a shout out to the group that gave you the award.

If you don’t win, that’s ok! Industry awards are full of killer competition, and there is always going to be another opportunity to win next year. Take the loss as a learning experience and look at the company that did win to get a better idea of what the judges were looking for. What are you waiting for? Your crown is just waiting for you to claim it! 

See Meghan Ely at Catersource 2018! Click here for her session description.

Meghan Ely

President, OFD Consulting, Richmond, VA

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting. Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast. 

Photo: Melody Smith Portraits