Top Five Tips: Applying for Awards

man excited about winning an award

Ah, the glitz and glamour of award season. The Grammys just kicked it off several weeks ago with quite a show, and The Oscars recently revealed this year’s nominees. Everyone deserves a chance to pose on the red carpet, and that’s no different for the world of PR and communications. 

Some of the best PR to earn for clients or your organization is through the announcement of an award. Not only will this result in acquiring a shiny trophy or plaque at a fun reception, but it will also earn the respect of colleagues and the industry involved. 

For this edition of Top Five, we asked communicators for their best practices when applying for awards—either for their own organizations or their clients. Here are the top answers (in no particular order).

Tip #1: Be proactive.

Rich Lukis, President, Coyne PR, PRNEWS Platinum PR & Digital and Social Award Winner:

“There’s no such thing as award season. It's an ongoing process requiring planning and preparation all year long. You can’t wait until the last minute to try and recreate history.  You need a formalized, methodical process to capture everything you need for a strong entry. Having an organized approach and taking the time to plan ahead can help ensure that your award submissions are well-prepared, competitive, and successful.”

Tip #2: Keep debriefs on file

Jackson Budinger, Senior Director of Communications, The Trevor Project, PRNEWS Nonprofit Awards Winner: 

“Make a habit out of creating recaps for campaigns and big launch moments along the way so you don’t have to scramble at the end to pull info from months ago. That practice lets you focus your energy on making your submission shine rather than spending lots of time digging for all the results and metrics."

Tip #3: Have an Honest Conversation with Clients

Jana Montero, Vice President, Communications at UpSpring

“Be selective and share your recommendations with your client, as not every project deserves an award. Clients count on PR firms to advise them and make honest recommendations. It's OK to say that a certain thought leader, product, or project is not a fit for a particular award."

Tip #4: Follow Your Feelings

Michelle Bonner, Director of Public Relations, Adams & Knight

“Adams & Knight’s approach to applying for awards is often fueled by the client, particularly if the campaign impacts important business metrics. More than anything, when the client celebrates the excellence of a campaign that our team has poured their heart and soul into, we want the world to know about it… and what better way than through an industry award.”

Tip #5: Celebrate Big Ideas

Jen Risi, Founder and President, The Sway Effect, PRNEWS Top Women in PR Award Winner:

“When applying for PR awards that recognize the agency or client work, always focus on topical, creative, innovative, and challenging work that has a big, bold idea at the core. The magic formula for winning always includes clear objectives, measurable results, and great storytelling.”

Nicole Schuman is senior editor for PRNEWS. Follow her @buffalogal