The Oscars, the Emmys and the Cannes Palm d’Or are some of the most prestigious industry awards on the planet, of course, all focusing on the entertainment industry. Winning them gives the stars and their films incredible press – and that buzz is half the reason they want to win.
Outside of film and TV, other industry awards are equally prestigious. They recognize the exceptional efforts of your teams, can help land customers, open doors to VC financing, attract great employees and boost the ‘elite’ status of your company.
Just ask Ryan Klassen, Vice President of Business Solutions for MTS and GM of Epic Information Solutions, a full-service communications and IT provider that offers a wide range of technology solutions to help its clients connect their businesses seamlessly and securely across multiple devices and platforms. Epic was recently named a Triple Crown Winner by The Channel Company, and in a crowded marketplace, Klassen feels that winning the Triple Crown helps them stand out.
“The Triple Crown award helps validate to our customers, and our team, that Epic is one of the leading best in class service providers out there,” says Klassen. “We’re the first Manitoba company to be named a Triple Crown Winner, and that feels just incredible.”
“The service provider space is really fragmented, with lots of independents,” Klassen explains. “So it can be hard for customers to know which ones are the best at what they do. These awards are designed to help cut through the clutter by highlighting companies that really are striving to be the best – and have the success to prove it,” explains Klassen.
This win puts Epic on top of the pack back home, and in the elite company of just 60 North American solution providers – and just three in Canada – who were recognized for having the necessary revenue, growth and technical expertise to win the Triple Crown Award this year.
1. What awards should you enter?
The key is picking the right awards. Then you have to be willing to toot your own horn and let the jury know why you deserve gold.
Start by doing research on local, national and international awards being offered in your specific industry, and in the communities where you operate. There are a number of opportunities for recognition:
1. Industry awards: Peers, trade associations and industry publications are looking for stand-out work that proves who is best in class. Look at the organizations your company and competitors already belong to as well as the magazines from your sector.
“In the case of the Triple Crown, our goal was to be recognized by a group of peers within the technical community. That actually helps raise Epic’s esteem among our non-technical clients because, while they may not understand everything we do, they recognize that our peers do. It’s a bit like deciding to go to a mechanic who’s been named the best by all the other mechanics. If they trust them, you can trust them,” says Klassen.
2. Professional awards: Skilled professionals can also receive individual awards – everyone from the IT department to accounting and engineering. These are given by the groups that accredit those professions and provide certain standards and benchmarks. Not only will these awards recognize specific individuals or teams, they will prove to your clients that you’ve got the right experts in place to serve them well.
3. Awards by geography – local and abroad: Local chambers of commerce, regional business associations and non-profits like Excellence Canada offer awards that cross industry lines and focus on specific geographic regions. Look at international awards, too – given by groups in the USA, Europe and Asia – which can boost your reputation abroad and impress clients back home.
Identify the awards that make sense for your company to enter, and create a list with the entry deadlines. Scope out your competitors to see what awards they’ve won, then ask your department heads what professional awards they are familiar with, and which ones are the most prestigious.
2. How to build a communications plan
Awards can be given out annually, semi-annually or quarterly, so plan ahead to make the most of your future press. To enter, most awards require you to complete an application form, meet all the necessary criteria and pay an entry fee. It can be time-consuming, but it’s well worth it. Build in enough time for your team to:
- Create a budget to cover the yearly entry fee costs
- Complete the application forms
- Gather all the requested support materials. Don’t get eliminated for being ‘incomplete.’
- Share the application with relevant team members for review
- Fact-check and proofread every page
“Applying for the Triple Crown took a lot of work by a lot of people within the company,” explains Klassen. “It wasn’t just about gathering the information – it was about putting it together in a compelling way that really showcased our work.”
3. The secret to winning
Entries are generally evaluated by a jury of volunteers. For smaller awards, there may be a single jury, while larger awards with multiple categories can have several juries that create shortlists before selecting final winners. Over a short period of time, these people will have to read, review and compare dozens, if not hundreds, of entries. You’ll want to write a brief, lively and compelling application that will stand out from the crowd.
So what’s the secret to a great awards entry? The key is telling a great story in your application.
- The nuts and bolts of why you deserve the award are important – but weave that into a compelling story to capture emotion and the human-interest side of things.
- Keep your narrative as short, snappy and compelling as possible.
- Include strong anecdotes that paint the picture and support the evidence.
- Focus on tangible effects and outcomes.
- Show them what you did really was amazing.
- Be as authentic as possible.
“Putting together our application made everyone talk to each other about their accomplishments in a way that doesn’t always happen. So people across the organization were able to see how everyone contributes,” says Klassen. “It was really impressive when everyone was finally able to stand back and, through this process, see what a great job everyone is collectively doing.”
4. How to promote your award win
Once you’ve been nominated, the time has come to begin sharing the news internally and with customers. And if you win, there’s even more to celebrate. (MTS was thrilled to announce Epic’s Triple Crown Award win, which included a press release and multiple social media posts).
Many awards are announced at an official ceremony. If you can make it to the event, take the time to meet new industry contacts and take pictures that you can share on your blog and social networks.
“Winning the Triple Crown was a chance for everyone to celebrate and share in that success,” says Klassen. “It’s important that everyone on the team knows how they contributed and have this chance to be recognized – and for our customers to know that they can turn to us with confidence.”
If you’re a winner, celebrate the achievement with your staff, clients and community. Find a prominent spot to proudly display your award at your office and create a solid publicity plan that showcases your winning status.
Then get ready to enter again next year. One award on your shelf looks great, but an entire row looks spectacular.
CRN’s Triple Crown Award is given to companies that risen to the top of their class in certification, revenue and growth. Learn more about CRN’s Triple Crown Award and how Epic received this esteemed recognition.