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And the winner is… evaluating the value of an award

Not all awards are created equal. Some carry a lot of weight, while others amount to little more than a participation trophy. They can also require major time commitment and investment. With so many ways to invest your marketing dollars, it begs the question: Is there value in nominating your company or product for an award?

Unfortunately, the answer is not a simple yes or no. It’s critical to understand the different types of awards before you can evaluate and determine their value. While this step may seem elementary, it can prevent headaches and scrapped entries due to misunderstandings.

Types of awards

Outside of my work in public relations, I am also a high school cross country coach. When I evaluate award opportunities, I often relate them to accolades offered at the high school level. Although there are numerous categories, the two I am going to focus on are earned and pay-to-win awards.

Earned

Nominees in this category are evaluated against a stringent set of standards. Like high school letter awards, these are very prestigious honors won only by a select number of participants who have set themselves apart from their peers. Because of their strict criteria, earned awards can provide a high level of value to a company by bolstering its reputation and credibility.

Pay-to-win

Similar to athletes receiving high school participation trophies, companies can attain pay-to-win awards simply by meeting basic criteria. These awards have set standards in which your product or company must meet to be eligible, but beyond that, if you pay to enter, you will receive an award. A pay-to-win honor demonstrates your company or product has met a particular set of standards, but it does not hold as much weight as an earned award.

Source and basis of the award

Capturing an award from third parties, like publishers and industry associations, is akin to a stamp of approval. Earning an award from a reputable entity shows your product has met their standards of excellence and been deemed meritorious. Being recognized by a less reputable entity may not negatively impact your credibility, but it probably won’t carry as much weight within your industry or among your customers.

Along with researching who sponsors the award, look long and hard at the award’s submission process. Understanding what criteria will be evaluated can help you determine if you can compete among the other potential applicants. You will also get a sense of what the time and money investment will be for entering.

If an award is deemed a fit for your company, we recommend having an action plan in place to leverage your honor if selected.

Let the award work for you

Capturing an award can help generate press opportunities and media coverage. When a publishing house sponsors the award, they often promote the winners online and print, providing you “free” publicity. For example, our client Daikin Applied was awarded “2015 Product of the Year” for its magnetic bearing chiller by Consulting-Specifying Engineer, a manufacturing trade publication, earning them coverage in the September 2015 issue.

Winning a prestigious award can also be leveraged through a press release and social channels. Vestagen Technical Textiles, a medical technology company, earned an Edison Award in April 2015 and issued a press release resulting in 9 pieces of coverage in healthcare trade publications and a local TV station. This news garnered more media hits than any other press release the company issued in 2015.

Award wins have no expiration date and can illustrate your company’s quality products and services. So don’t let the investment of entering hold you back. Instead, evaluate the type of award, source and basis to determine the value it can offer your organization. And if selected, let it work for you!

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