Hollywood’s annual awards season may have just wrapped, but for the audiovisual and electronics industries, this year’s awards campaigns are just heating up. The next Meryl Streep of custom design and integration may be discovered in this year’s CEDIA or AVX awards. As any auteur who has made the journey from art house darling to Oscar winner can tell you, the prestige conveyed by awards matters. This is as true in AV as it is in film and television.
Choosing Your Targets
The audiovisual industry is host to many awards programs, and they each offer unique benefits for both winners and finalists. When considering submitting your company or its products for an award, think carefully about where to invest your efforts. Just like certain movies fair better at Sundance than they do at the Golden Globes, make sure you’re considering awards that really make sense for your company and fit with your goals.
For instance, if an award relies on public voting to determine results, it’s likely to be a good fit only for companies with a strong social media program.
You’ll need to promote the ballot and engage with potential voters frequently throughout the voting period. On the plus side, such programs provide a natural storyline for your social feeds and a great opportunity to interact with your online audience.
If doing that fills you dread, you’re likely better off submitting to awards that rely on case studies, data, or narrative as selection criteria.
Look for awards that are a natural fit, both in terms of your marketing goals and desired audience and in terms of the selection criteria. Criteria should be clear, specific, and make you think, “Hey, that’s me!” Don’t stretch to fit into the wrong box – many industry awards are highly competitive, and you’ll likely be wasting your time.
Not all awards programs are the same, and there is certainly not a one-size-fits-all program. When you consider awards in your overall PR and marketing mix, there are a boatload of obvious benefits, including brand awareness, recognition, and increased exposure in the industry. However, entering awards programs can reap other rewards that you may not have considered.
I’m sure you’ve taken a look at an awards program before and thought, “Well, we don’t have anything that would qualify.” Especially when it comes to products, ship dates can be super-specific. If you don’t have something that fits, that’s ok!
But don’t forget about those awards that have to do with process. Awards that cover customer service, technical support, or even community involvement can confer many of the same benefits as product awards. If you still don’t feel like your brand is award-worthy after examining these options, perhaps it’s an opportunity to reevaluate as a company.
When I was working at CEDIA, we frequently heard that the CEDIA Awards process was demanding, but it often forced companies to improve their project documentation so the entry process would be easier next time. Similarly, in order to be eligible for any of Fortune’s “Best Workplace” lists, you must first meet Great Place to Work certification benchmarks measuring employee satisfaction and trust.
Sometimes, the process of simply applying for an award makes your company better. If you’re not at an award-worthy level, use award programs as a benchmark to get there.
Prior to joining Caster Communications, the fact that they had just been named to the PRNEWS Agency Elite Top 100 told me a lot about the team I was looking to join. I looked up the award criteria to better understand what this award really meant, and I was impressed.
Make sure your awards are visible across your website. This can show potential team members some of the areas that you’ve excelled in. Maybe you won a Better Business Bureau award for volunteer hours, or you’ve consistently swept industry awards for innovation. Increasingly, millennial workers want their jobs to have purpose and be a source of community. Use awards to help tell that story for you.
Lifting Company Morale
2020 and 2021 have been strange years. Usually, a celebratory awards event is one of the major benefits of an awards program, but that’s just not the world we are living in right now.
Even in the absence of a black-tie awards gala, don’t underestimate the boost awards can still have on company morale even in these strange times. Companies are continuing to innovate, and those achievements should continue to be recognized. Pursuing awards demonstrates to your team that you value their work and think it’s worthy of recognition.
At my last job, we entered a “best places to work” competition. We didn’t make it past the first round of that very stiff competition, but it was still good for our company culture. It showed us all how far we had come to make the workplace an environment we wanted to be part of.
The Winners Circle
Though it would be nice to sweep every category for which your company is eligible, it’s not a realistic expectation – not everyone can be season 6 of Schitt’s Creek at the 2020 Emmys.
The awards process can be its own reward, however. Campaigning for awards can increase the cadence and engagement on your social media. Awards criteria can help you evaluate your product and organizational strengths and weaknesses.
The awards you apply for and win can be rallying point for your staff, existing and new. If you enter into awards programs with a thoughtful approach, and you treat every stage as a learning experience, you will always be in the winner’s circle.
Olivia Sellke has over a decade of experience in PR and a track record of success in strategic brand messaging, crisis communication, and grass-roots media relations. An Account Supervisor with Caster Communications, she uses her extensive background in the residential technology space to tell clients’ stories.