Autumn is awards season. This might sound a long way off but entry deadlines are already fast approaching.

If your business isn’t very good at finding the time to enter awards, don’t worry – you’re not alone! At Cicada, we’re well versed at helping companies and individuals to achieve awards success.

Awards are usually classed as a “nice to have” until it comes to allocating the job of completing the entry form. No-one wants to be the person who draws the short straw!

If you want to put your business in the best possible position to win, you need to think long-term. With that in mind, here’s our top five tips for awards success.

Plan ahead
Fast forward to the future: you’ve won an award. The champagne corks have popped. How are you going to leverage this success to give your business a boost? If you don’t know the answer, then maybe your planning wasn’t quite right.

We advise clients to ask ‘why’ right from the outset. We help them to identify awards that will provide relevant profile and credible third-party endorsement. We ask how winning will change the way people think about you.

Do your homework
Carefully examine the awards categories and their criteria to ensure your company qualifies. You need to be confident that the requirements play to your strengths and you have a strong argument for winning. Thoroughly read the entry form, questions and rules. Judges will dismiss entries that neglect to answer a key question. Stick to specified word counts. You should also check for costs – not just of entering but of attending the awards ceremony – to avoid any nasty surprises further down the line.

Don’t leave it until the last minute
OK, so the deadline is eight weeks away, you can put your feet up and deal with it nearer the time. Bad idea! (unless you’re an adrenaline junkie who thrives on tight deadlines). Those eight weeks will pass quickly. And remember, its not just a case of filling out a form – you need to source evidence such as case studies, figures, visuals and testimonials that back up your entry. Leave time for the entry to be approved by the boss and never assume the deadline will be extended. Some awards organisers allow some leeway but don’t rely on it!

Get writing!
Don’t rely on glossy brochures or Powerpoint slides to impress the judges. Many actively discourage this. Judges need to compare like for like so it’s the words on the entry form that matter most.

One of the biggest stumbling blocks for businesses is articulating their success in words. This is where support from an experienced PR agency comes in. At Cicada, we know awards inside out, based on years of experience of award writing and sitting on judging panels. We will challenge your achievements against the criteria and help you to focus on evidence rather than unqualified hyperbole.

The big night
Hopefully by now you will know you have been shortlisted and made your staff, customers and contacts aware of this. Don’t be afraid to shout about your success – being shortlisted is no mean feat!
If you’re taking a table, carefully choose the people that you want to share your success with. Is it your valued customers or fantastic employees? Get your invites out early, give your guests plenty of notice and study the attendees list for networking opportunities.

Finally, don’t get carried away with the bubbly. Unless you win, in which case DO get carried away with the bubbly.

Good luck!

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