Awards Matter; Win or Lose

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Award nominations and wins are an important part of the communications programme.

The early part of the year is always packed with major entertainment award ceremonies. But this year’s will be remembered less for the winners and more for the events surrounding them.

First, we had the Golden Globes being largely boycotted because of their lack of diversity; the Brits tackled this issue by doing away with Male and Female categories for the Best Artist award; and then, of course, the Oscars and that slap!

It’s Not the Winning

For me, a major attraction of awards ceremonies has been the fixed smiles of the losers. Most disguise their disappointment very well, as indeed they should in the acting categories! But it does call into question the truth of the phrase ‘it’s not the winning, it’s the taking part’.

Of course, one of the big questions around any awards programme is how do you decide what or who is best? The judges for these events may be experts in their fields but in the end, it’s personal opinion. There will always be plenty of people who disagree, and not just the beaten finalists.

The Value of Trade Awards

Trade awards do not generally court too much controversy. There’s usually plenty of diversity – take the packaging industry, for example, with different materials including plastic, glass, paper, board and metal competing for many of the top prizes. But there can still be the same questioning of the results. I remember the customer of one client being extremely disgruntled with her Highly Commended certificate and convinced she should have taken the top honour!

Nevertheless, win or lose, trade awards can play an important role in a communications programme. A nomination is recognition of a company’s or individual’s skills and capabilities. And there are plenty of opportunities to publicise the nomination ahead of the award ceremony. This helps to maximise awareness of the company and generate interest from customers and prospects – just as an Oscar nomination can do wonders for a film’s box office.

A Year’s Worth of Good News

And for the winner, a year of communication opportunities lie ahead, thanks to press announcements, social media channels, customer newsletters and email signatures.

The award ceremony itself also provides a great opportunity to build and enhance customer relationships. My disgruntled customer example is an exception rather than the rule. Trade award ceremonies usually offer a good meal, plenty of drink, entertainment and networking opportunities. Most customers make the most of this and any award win is merely the icing on the cake.

Unsung Heroes

It is important too to acknowledge employee contributions to any success. Trade awards don’t generally allow thank you speeches – thank goodness – but sharing the good news with staff and thanking them for their efforts through internal communications channels can be a great morale booster.

Maximising the News

At Nielsen McAllister identifying awards for our clients and entering them on their behalf has been a key part of many of our communication programmes. We’ve had some success too – securing around 15 wins and commendations for clients in the last few years alone.

As part of an integrated communications campaign, an award win is an excellent proof point for claims about market leadership, or design and technical expertise. As the commercial director of one of our clients put it, our ongoing communications programme transformed the company from “a tradehouse boxmaker in the shadows to a market leader”. And the six awards that the company picked up over the past three years played an important role in this.

Trade awards may not have the celebrity status or indeed the dramas of the big red carpet events, but nominations and wins both provide great communication opportunities. And at Nielsen McAllister we’ll make of the most of these – with no need for clients to resort to violence to make the front page!

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