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Awards season 101:
why businesses should start thinking about awards now, and how to win them

As we firmly settle into the new year, the Comms Business Awards which took place mid-January, brought the 2019/2020 awards season to a close. Of course, everything looked a little different to usual as timelines were pushed back and awards ceremonies took place virtually (not that it stopped BT’s MNO team from dressing up to the nines).

Despite awards season not going ahead as originally planned, 2020’s virtual events still gave businesses and the channel an incredible opportunity to look back on the last 12 months and all the challenges we’ve overcome. But as well as giving companies and channel partners a chance to reflect, awards are important because they attract customers.

Award wins provide reassurance to prospective clients of the valuable work a business is doing, which is why there is no such thing as ‘too early’ when it comes to getting prepared for award entries.

If prospects are searching for proof points for a partner’s track record, seeing a list of award wins and shortlistings represents an impartial, expert voice confirming that they can add value to operations. If you missed out last year, make sure you’re prepared this time around.

Beyond this, it’s also good for partners to play an active role in the communities they’re part of – networking and relationships within the channel are what enables this industry to thrive. There is real value behind picking up a trophy, so here’s some quick tips and tricks for our channel partners and all businesses on how to win awards.


Don’t be afraid to apply for multiple categories

From the MVNO World Congress, to the CRN Awards, there are ample opportunities for teams and organisations to enter at least one award every year. Not only are there a huge number of awards out there, but there are so many different categories within each one. You can’t win them all (but you can certainly try!).

As long as the categories are all relevant, don’t be afraid to apply for more than one as this will boost your chances, raise your brand awareness amongst the judges and, in the long term, improve your award entry writing.

For example, last year for the Small Cell’s World Forum awards, BT Wholesale entered the ‘Excellence in Commercial Deployment’, ‘Development of New Architecture’ and ‘Outstanding Innovation in Small Cell Business Case’ categories. We won the latter which we were thrilled with.

Award entry deadlines can come in thick and fast - so we suggest creating an awards calendar as soon as possible for those which are relevant, and your customers will want to hear about. That way, you can easily keep on top of everything. It’s important that you give yourself plenty of time to draft quality entries as, in turn, these are what get you more wins which you can show off to prospective customers. 


Enter awards with partners and customers

We operate in an extremely exciting industry that is constantly innovating but, to pioneer emerging technologies, you can’t always go at it alone. As long as the rules allow it, what’s stopping you from joining forces with partners or customers for an award entry? After all, two heads are better than one. 

That’s exactly what we did for the IBC’s ‘Best in show’ award last year. To strengthen the entry for Project Restart – the campaign that got football back on our screens – both BT Media and Broadcast and BT Sport played an integral role. Ensuring that everyone gets their moment in the spotlight can be a balancing act so always be transparent when drafting an award entry.

What’s more, joint entries demonstrate the ability to be flexible in the ecosystem in which partners belong. This is incredibly appealing to potential clients, especially in today’s ever-evolving landscape.


Use engaging language and include examples 

Awards are a fantastic PR and marketing tool and so you want to put your best foot forward in the entry. That said, mastering the writing technique for award entries is no mean feat. Entries should be self-promotional so use exciting language and include lots of adjectives and adverbs to colour your writing. In addition, they should be informative which means having proof points littered throughout.

The challenge with awards in the channel is creating hype for products that are often very technical. Use words such as “drastically”, “empowering” and “paramount” to make yourself stand out.

It’s important to remember, that if you don’t win but still get shortlisted, that is still a lot of eyes on your company. It’s always worth giving entries your all. And you never know who’s judging the competition, so even if you’re unsuccessful you could still gain a new business prospect.


It shows you are part of the community  

Despite everyone competing for the top spot, there’s a real community buzz around awards. This was especially apparent in 2020 with all businesses having to rethink their strategies due to COVID-19. It's too early to tell what celebrations will be like this year but virtual or otherwise, awards give people a reason to smile. Customers want to know you have a good company culture and will be a likeminded person to get into business with, so what’s the harm in having some fun?

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