11/22/15 • “And The Winner Is….” Why It’s Smart To Pursue Professional Awards

As published by The Gaston Gazette:

(11/22/15) BELMONT, N.C. –  When you were young, you were probably taught not to brag. Your bravado was silenced in favor of humility and good manners. But when it comes to professional award opportunities, you need to toss that childhood lesson out the door and get back in touch with your inner winner. Whether as an individual or a company, throwing your name in the hat for an industry award is a business-savvy move for a number of reasons. Here are five of the best:

  • Positive recognition goes a long, long way. Winning an award or even nabbing a nomination gives you all kinds of leverage. According to Forbes Magazine writer Selena Rezvani, awards “can help you demand a higher fee as an entrepreneur, reinforce your request for a higher corporate salary to your employer, and provide external validation of how you measure up against your peers.” For companies, entering award contests shows pride in what your employees have done, and documents the work of an individual or team for the world to see. So many outstanding projects get forgotten over time, but the award-winning ones…those get remembered and referenced for years to come. All in all, awards are great for morale.
  • Winning generates good public relations. It’s (almost) free publicity. For the cost of the entry fee and a few minutes of your time, you can reap a flurry of positive PR benefits. This is your opportunity to gain greater exposure in your field and position yourself or your company as one who gets results. It’s a cardinal rule in business: Never, ever pass on an opportunity for good PR.
  • Your client wins, too. When you’ve done excellent work for a client or customer and you put it forward to be judged by industry leaders, you and your client both get exposure. It’s a great way to show the client how much you value and appreciate your collaboration with them and how happy you are with the successful results. Not only will winning give you an award to show off in your office, but it gives your client bragging rights, too.
  • Award events are a prime time to network. Don Hyman, senior vice president and U.S. Awards Program Leader at Edelman PR, says, “When all is said and done, these programs function as a reasonably efficient mechanism for sharing best practices, advancing knowledge and promoting excellence…They work the same way annual meetings do for doctors, scientists and other professionals.” Whether you win or not, don’t miss the chance to hobnob with like-minded professionals. It’s like being at the Oscars for your industry; take advantage of that coveted opportunity to be in a room of influential leaders.
  • It’s good for your confidence. Many people are stifled by insecurity and a feeling that their work isn’t really up to par. We have an ingrained aversion to self-promotion. But there’s a big difference between being confident and being unbearably cocky. Believing in yourself, your company and the quality of the work produced shows a level of confidence and professionalism to which we all aspire. Just go for it. Consider the New York Times foreign correspondent Jeffrey Gettleman. He nominated himself for a Pulitzer Prize in 2012…and won.

Plan ahead for award opportunities. Make a list of the ones you’d like to pursue and make winning a goal. You’ll be more likely to raise the bar in terms of your work quality and less likely to make excuses not to enter. Keep in mind that planning and preparing to win get you halfway to the limelight. The rest of the journey requires a little courage and that long-buried bravado.

Lyerly Agency’s President and CEO Elaine Lyerly and Executive Vice President and COO Melia Lyerly share their 35+ years of marketing, advertising, public relations and brand strategy experience with readers each month in a column published by The Gaston Gazette.