In recent years, it seems there has been a massive growth in the number of awards on offer and the glitzy ceremonies at which they are presented; there’s an award for everything these days, including 'Best Car Park Refurbishment'.
Now, I have nothing against a good honest award. The process is reasonably typical, with an announcement that the awards are open for entries and submission forms can be downloaded from the appropriate site. So far so good.
The entry is then drafted, with a view to highlighting all the good works undertaken by the business intent on securing the award.
This is one particular aspect of the award submissions we are often called upon to help with, given our experience of corporate communications and an unerring ability to articulate the key differentiators of our clients.
The submissions are then usually read and assessed by a panel of industry sector luminaries and thought leaders, who understand the importance or otherwise of the work the submission outlines and grade it accordingly.
Often some categories will go to a ‘public’ vote, with businesses asking their customers to support their efforts to win, with emails reminding everyone of the great service provided and a link to click to show their backing.
The Award Dinner
Okay, so we all know the shortlisted entries will typically take tables of ten, at the impressive Awards Dinner, where at least three businesses listed in each of 12 to 15 categories ensures a room full of at least 300-500 people; at £100 per head.
But when this is a trade event to find the best service provider, in a sector far from the glamour of the Oscars, then who can deny these businesses their moment of fame or at least a 30 second video on the big screen during the awards ceremony.
However, when without even entering an award you are notified you have been given the title, ‘Most Client-Focused PR Agency 2018 - West Midlands’ in the CV Magazine 2018 Corporate Excellence Awards, you have to question the entire validity of the concept.
I’m not saying our service isn’t client focussed, but I don’t need a random magazine to tell me that. And being the part cynic, part sceptic that has kept me sane in this industry, a quick tour of Google and mention of CV Magazine Awards proved an enlightening experience.
We won…..oh hang on
Not only did we win an award we had not entered, but for them to publicise our win (you know, the sort of thing we do for our clients every day!), we only have to choose one of the invitingly price ‘packages’ to get the most from our prestigious award – prices range from £450 to £1595.
But don’t think this is all about the money, the email I received states that CV Magazine is ‘Proudly not pay-to-play’, inviting this year’s successful firms to the full copyright of the award title and a complimentary digital certificate to celebrate.
So that’s okay then. We will not be accepting the award and so another year will pass without me being able to shed a tear as I thank my Mum, all the ‘amazing’ people I work with, or all of our fantastic clients.
I genuinely see a benefit for winning an award, but it has to be the right award for the right reason – and especially not if they invented a category for you.
I believe the ongoing work we deliver for our clients and their commitment to the relationship is a far greater measure of success than a random email dropping into my inbox telling us we are wonderful and award winners.
If I’m honest, I don’t think I’ve ever based my decision to work with an organisation or buy a product based on the awards it has won, even if it didn’t pay for them. These random, freely issued awards damage the reputation of all the serious awards out there and are not to be encouraged.
And if you're wondering, the award for 'Best Car Park Refurbishment' went to Ruskin Square, Croyden.