Let’s face it – it feels pretty amazing to be recognized for all your hard work.
When your company is honoured with a prestigious award, it’s not only a nice pat on the back, but it’s a great chance for your team to celebrate their hard-earned accomplishments. And it can make your customers, existing and future, excited about working with you.
So how do you get the word out and earn attention-grabbing headlines?
The answer is in your communications plan, and it takes careful planning from start to finish.
The Epic case study
When Epic Information Solutions recently won the prestigious Triple Crown Award presented by The Channel Company, they knew it would be a tremendous way to promote their business to current and prospective customers. But the effort and planning reached far beyond just the glitz and glamour of awards night. And it paid off.
“Winning the Triple Crown is something we’re very proud of and want to celebrate,” says Ryan Klassen, Vice President of Business Solutions for MTS and GM of Epic, a full-service communications and IT provider that helps its clients connect securely across multiple devices and platforms. “The celebration starts internally, by recognizing the people whose hard work and dedication paid off.”
“The value to our customers comes from the recognition that Epic is considered one of the leading best in class service providers, not just here in Manitoba but across North America,” he explains. “It gives them peace of mind knowing that Epic is growing and investing heavily in certification, and that they’re making the right choice in selecting Epic to work with.”
Winning an award can be an extremely effective and versatile tool in the promotion of your business, both internally and externally. With this in mind, here are 5 key areas of focus to maximize the publicity of your nomination and win.
Step 1: It’s an honour to be nominated…
Although you may be eager to focus on the awards gala and win, your promotions plan starts at the nomination stage. Being nominated is almost as important as winning the award since it is recognition that your efforts have put you in elite company. This alone makes you stand out from the rest. To take full advantage of this opportunity, there are a few things to do right off the bat:
- If you don’t have a PR team, assign a team member to lead the charge. They will develop the communications plan, connect your company SMEs with media, act as a spokesperson to keep communications on target. This could be someone in your marketing and communications team, who already knows how to publicly represent your brand.
- Gather internal SMEs who had a part in the award and who have a compelling story to tell. If it’s a large industry-wide award, it might make sense for your president or CEO to provide quotes and do media interviews. If it’s an award in recognition of a specific department or unit within your company, ensure that someone from that team is given the chance to have the spotlight.
- Create talking points that provide key information about the award and the significance of your nomination. Include a number of quotes from your spokesperson, demonstrating how proud you are to have been selected for consideration.
- Include mention of the nomination in your regular internal communications – staff email updates, newsletters, intranet bulletin boards, staff meetings and ‘town hall’ sessions.
- Get started now with your external publicity efforts. Where appropriate, include mention of your nomination status on your client-focused website and social media feeds. You could also issue a press release at the nomination stage (if it’s a prominent enough award). However, you may want to keep your powder dry until the winners are announced since some newspapers and magazines might only want to write about it once.
Step 2: Roll out the red carpet
On the night of the awards gala, you’ll need more planning than just what to wear. But that’s important, too, so dress to the nines and prepare to get your picture taken. The gala organizers will be tweeting, sending out press photos and publishing follow-up content on their site and magazine. Make sure everyone is armed with plenty of business cards, which are handy to give contact info, correct spelling of names and titles when chatting with a reporter.
A picture is worth a thousand words, and on social media it’s worth a million, so have your camera ready. Tweet pics with the awards gala hashtag, connect with event attendees online and take plenty of additional pictures that you can use in your promotions. Snap pics of attendees, speakers, dinner, trophies, the building, city and most importantly your team. All of these will create a story and give you valuable material post event.
Assume you’re going to win – this is not being presumptuous, it’s just smart planning. So get your talking points ready in advance and prepare an acceptance speech recognizing the people involved in making this award possible. This should include the key people from your team and also critical clients or partners who were a part of the efforts that led to your award.
These comments aren’t just for the people on stage – they might be picked up by reporters from industry magazines in attendance or featured as video clips on the award show’s website or YouTube channel.
Step 3: The ticker tape parade
Your plan to promote your win should be the same as it was to announce your nomination – just with even greater effort and even more proud zeal! Epic pulled out all the stops to promote its Triple Crown win internally and externally, says Klassen. The first step was the most important – letting everyone at Epic share the pride.
“We started by using this as a rallying cry to celebrate our teams work. Not just within Epic itself, but across the broader fold of MTS. We promoted it on digital billboards across the company, and in features on our internal websites. Our senior leadership sent congratulatory cards to every single person at Epic to say ‘thank you’ for all the efforts it took to achieve this.”
Internally, there are a few things you can do to spread the news with your team:
- Feature the award win prominently in internal emails, staff bulletins and at update meetings
- Write an article focusing on the team and project that won. Include a great photo of everyone involved holding the award.
- Shoot a short video with your team to post on your YouTube channel and social media feeds. Encourage your team to share the news on their own social media feeds too.
- Host a celebratory lunch or gather everyone to share a bottle of champagne and some cake, whatever works at your company to celebrate together.
Step 4: Getting published
Craft a press release that can be ready to go the day after the awards are announced. Mention why you’re a winner, demonstrate your company’s standout skills and abilities, and include two or three quality quotes. To further promote this and connect with the right audiences, follow these tips:
- Create a list of targeted media to send your press release to, like newspapers, magazines and industry-focused blogs and columnists.
- If the award was given to recognize specific achievements like accounting or information technology or security, be sure to focus on the publications that service those specific niches (even if they have nothing to do with your core business and clients).
- Build the good news into your marketing materials to reach new and existing audiences.
- Include a picture of the award on your brochures and website along with a quote from the jury about why you won. They might even be able to provide a high-quality photo of the award so you don’t have to hire a photographer to shoot it for you.
Step 5: Let your win go viral
Winning an award is a perfect social media story that you can tell in many ways through Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and Instagram. Include links to your press release and reshare the awards show posts, but most important craft your own story once again.
That could take the form of a first-person account of how the project helped your customers, a post on what you learned along the way as a business (exactly what you’re reading now!), a short video sharing your team’s excitement of the win or even just a photo gallery of the award show. (Remember you took all those great pics at the event?!) And if you’re doing paid social advertising, use these posts for targeted ads to capture new customer interest.
Step 6: Share the news with your biggest fans
Who’s that, you ask? No, it’s not your mom. It’s your customers.
Share the news of the win directly with them. Send out a special edition newsletter, for example, to explain the award significance and make them feel like they are part of the excitement. This will also reinforce their confidence in your abilities, as long as you explain how the award makes you an even better industry partner.
Epic Information Solutions held nothing back when sharing with their customers the news of their win. “We reference the award in all of our customer communications, on our website and in our marketing materials. Because we provide highly technical services to customers who aren’t always technically-savvy themselves, we know it helps build our clients confidence when we can tell them that a jury of the best technical minds have recognized Epic as best in class across North America,” says Klassen.
And of course, it goes without saying that the award itself should be given a prominent spot in your office, showroom or facility where it will remind people of the excellent work that led to it.
Read about how your business can pick the right award entries and make the most of your application.
Image by Ilmicrofono Oggiono