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Awards- Who Are The Real winners?

I’m usually the one who writes award nomination forms for my clients, sometimes requiring thousands of words. It is very time consuming and award entries take hours. I focus on them as if I was answering an exam question and I’m always aware of the importance of checking the criteria and then answering what’s required in a way to make the entry stand out and be impactful.

I must be doing something right because I have a pretty good track record in getting clients to finals and winning awards, whether that’s local or national. I’ve recently had an interesting experience of ‘poacher turned gamekeeper’ as I’m now a Board Director of the St Albans Chamber of Commerce and have been a judge in the CSR category of the Chamber’s Community Awards.

I have also helped a client judge awards in the construction industry. As a multi award nominator myself I have tried not to be judgemental on things like poor spelling (have you not heard of Spellcheck) and sloppy writing but I confess I find this hard. At the very least, if you want to win an award, make a decent effort with your entry.

Some of the entries have been beyond lazy. One high profile entertainment company’s German branch entered the construction awards for a game that had absolutely nothing to do with construction. They must have Googled technical awards and not read what they were for. The entry was half hearted, as were more than several others from ‘finalists’ .

What I’ve learnt over the years from nominating and now judging is that there are awards finalists who genuinely reflect the quality of the entries and others who are there so that they will be encouraged to buy usually overpriced tickets or tables to attend the award ceremony.

I understand that print media, magazines and newspapers, are really suffering with loss of income through the popularity and effectiveness of digital advertising, but I don’t think this justifies making virtually everyone who enters a ‘finalist’. This isn’t to say that the best entries in any particular category aren’t the ones who win, it’s just that when it’s an income source for a magazine or events company they seem to make people finalists (possibly everyone who enters that category) and get them to pay £350+ per ticket even if they’ve got no chance of winning.

Of course I understand, times are tough and it’s a business decision but what a difference a genuine award makes, where there are no entry fees and those shortlisted have to have a 1-2-1 interview with the judges and decisions aren’t based on just a written entry (or the size of the company). I entered one of my clients for the national NatWest Everywoman Awards last year and she was shortlisted.

She then had to meet the judges of the awards for some pretty in depth interviews, leading to her being chosen as one of the top three finalists. She was invited to a lunchtime awards ceremony, completely free of charge, with a guest. She won the award in her category and was charmingly overwhelmed because she didn’t expect to win. Since then she’s been to the launch lunch for this year’s awards, also entirely free and has been made to feel valued as a winner and ambassador for the awards.

I always encourage my clients to enter awards because if you win, you are forever after an award winning, or multi award winning company or person on every press release or company literature. I just think that choosing vast numbers of entries to be finalists in order to make money devalues the award. It doesn’t, however, affect the excitement and joy of being a winner, so keep on entering (and remember to Spellcheck)