Just like there’s more to winning an award than standing on a podium to rousing applause, there’s more to running an awards program than the actual award presentation.
Before that culminating special moment, there’s a complete lifecycle of events, from pre-awards planning and judge invitations to the entry period, judging, and announcing of the winners. As we like to say, there are more moving parts in an awards program than a bag of Lego.
Running an awards program is no simple task. And making one shine as brightly as your entrants can be challenging!
Here are some helpful tips to keep your program shining through the entire lifecycle.
Choose a good foundation. Use an awards system and process that saves you time, makes you look good, and, most importantly, is easy for every participant in your program. Award Force, for example, has been designed to provide exceptional experiences to all program participants. The platform encourages more submissions from entrants, provides judges with an experience they actually enjoy and enables program managers with all the tools to keep everything running smoothly and stress-free.
Plan, plan, plan. Remember to plan well ahead of each stage of the award process. Have clear entry and closing dates, judging rounds, and winner announcements. Make sure each phase is set up in advance.
Infuse credibility into your program. From offering program security features to plagiarism detection, be sure your program is credible form the start. Award Force offers built-in protections for your participants that includes audit logs, plagiarism detection, the ability to judge anonymous entries, and registration requirements for entrants.
Another good way to add credibility to your program is to invite big names in your industry to judge your program. This is ideal for influencers who want to give back to their industry through judging and great for your program’s credibility and branding.
Reach out to awards experts. Running an awards program isn’t easy. One of the best resources you can have while managing the program is an awards expert at your side. For example, Award Force immediately connects you with a Client Success Manager who’ll help every step of the way with proven techniques to get your program up and running in no time at all.
Market the program. Have a dedicated marketing page for your awards program. You’ll want to entice people to enter, highlight the awards, and put your brand and your sponsors’ branding front and centre.
Communicate often, with everyone! Send broadcasts to remind people about entering, to remind people to finish their entries, to instruct judges about entries, and to thank your sponsors.
Provide publicity. Awards programs are ideal for year-round publicity. Find appropriate media partners who will bring positive press and buzz to your program, your participants and you!
Get social! Awards programs were made for social media. You can do this before, during and after your awards event. People love sharing recognition and this positive social currency will be a boon for both your program participants and your brand. Think about this from the very start and create a hashtag for your awards or the awards event/celebration.
Celebrate the winners. Time to celebrate! Now is the time to recognise all the finalists and winners in the program. You could throw a traditional awards gala or perhaps consider something a bit more unconventional. Create a video featuring the winners and finalists. Or have the winners come together to work on a project that moves the community forward.
Want to learn more about building + managing an awards program? Download our free guide: “Awards 101: Foundations for Awards Programs Success”.