How to do PR for your award win, without hiring an agency…
March 7 2023
Congratulations! You made it to the finals! This is something to be celebrated! Having personally completed the arduous process of entering hundreds of award applications for clients in the past I can honestly say, you deserve to be very smug.
Making it to both the finals and winning is a great way of differentiating your company from competitors, Sophie Morrow, Director, Volume 4 Comms explains that this can also serve as authentic PR for your business as it acts as an independent third-party endorsement.
But what now? The internet is swimming with articles and guidance on why you should enter awards and the benefits to your business, but very little information on what to do if you become a finalist or win. Just as in the same way everyone’s always talking about why you have to employ a PR agency, nobody is actually willing to reveal the secrets of how you could easily do it yourself.
Depending on the kind of award you’ve been shortlisted for or won, and in this case let’s use the recent announcement of the Business Champion Awards finalists as an example, now is a great time to start telling your customers and the media about your fabulous achievement. However please remember this.
Nominations are announced in advance because they are valuable themselves. You have only a limited amount of time to tell people you were nominated – once you win/lose the nomination story is over. So if you expect to win, then by all means wait to declare your win instead of doubling up – it makes a much stronger story. If you expect to lose, then REALLY milk the nomination. But you have to gamble on your hunch to get it right.
Your first step to getting your news out there is by creating a press release. A press release is a formal announcement made by a business sharing news relating to its latest developments with the media and other interested parties with the aim to generate press coverage. In this case, your award announcement.
Quick caveat, a press release will not always generate press coverage, but having worked in the industry for 20 years I have come realise that the press do read the news from PR’s even if they don’t write about it. So sending out regular news will act like a drip feed of updates on what your organisation is up to. If one day something on the news agenda fits with your brand – you will be front of mind.
What to include in your press release
Create the perfect headline
You can only be so creative with an award win headline, but still here are a few tips to remember. Headlines shouldn’t be wordy and definitely on one line! Avoid jargon and hyperbole. Use numbers to give oomph. Numbers are a great opportunity to communicate your news qualitatively. For example, ‘HighPoint is one of three finalists in Fastest Growing Company of the Year Award’. Or HighPoint is one of three finalists in 2000% growth category in Fastest Growing Company of the Year Award’.
Why did you stand out?
You’ll have been shortlisted for the award in your category because there was something you did better than anyone else. Was it your team, your operational model, your innovation, or your strategy that charmed the judges?
If so focus on that as your differentiator. The key elements of any good press release are; how is it new, relevant, different and problem solving. If it was the customer experience of users that made you stand out share this and add quotes from happy users to underscore the point.
Often winners get there because they are better at anticipating needs that even the customers did not know they had. If so share your insight of what those hidden needs were. Or did you notice a trend or development that your competitors didn’t? If so make this a large part of your news release.
Subject matter expertise
Being shortlisted instantly positions you as a subject matter expert. People want to know what those in the know think. Share your experience of what you did and why. There’s no need to exaggerate just share how you did it and people will find your knowledge inspiring.
Insights into your market trends.
What were you judged in relation to. Nothing is ever good or bad except by comparison to some standard. In business, a large part of the standard is the market trend and how you measure up against that.
What were those trends, what were the customer needs, what were the customer lacks and frustrations and crucially, how did you identify and meet them? Did you uncover any of these? If you met them well they’d be a good part of why you were shortlisted, because judges want to celebrate businesses that are ahead of the curve.
Third party endorsements AKA quotes!
When you win awards, you become quotable. Journalists and competitors want to hear what you have to say. Your press release should have quotes that illustrate your insights, subject matter expertise, and your strategic approach. Again, verbosity is not the way. Pithy quotes that express your personality and actual experience are always authentic real and therefore more effective. Please be confident in your experience, and don’t forget it was good enough to win you the award.
Humanise the story
Finally, don’t forget to add a few lines about your journey. No not “War and Peace”. But people do want to read about why you got involved in this business, the challenges that almost stopped you. Also, the wins that you achieved – are will they inspirational other start-ups.
Make sure its SEO and social media friendly
Make sure you are getting the meat of your message within the first 250 words of your content. it’s important that you have the relevant content up front, because this will make it easier for search engine algorithms to understand your press release. Ensure you hyperlink important phrases and keywords, embed cool videos, link to your social – but don’t go overboard and NEVER send attachments!!! At the end of the release, provide your company and contact information, providing links where appropriate.
Now you’ve written your release its time to send it to the right and relevant journalists. In this case, for the business awards you can research and find the names of national journalists who write about your topic and send it to them.
If there’s a secondary theme such as technology then you can also approach all the technology media and national media covering technology. Finally you need to send it to your local regional media.
They really should write about it. If you’re feeling brave, I would highly recommend calling local media outlets yourself and speaking to the journalists and telling them your story. They are much more inclined to cover a story from someone local who just called up got chatting and it turns out you both have kids in the same school. BOOM!
Finding the media outlets and email addresses of journalists who work there is usually easy and you don’t need to pay for a media database service.
Go to the media site and find the email address on the about us, or the meet the team page. If it’s not there and its looking very elusive, you can usually find it by googling ‘business editor Sunday Times LinkedIn ’ finding them online and then working out the email format. Rocket Reach will also give you a few for free.
When it comes to what media outlets to approach, you should be sending it to newspapers, online news sites, magazines, blogs, radio and TV. I doubt unless you are Google or Metaverse your award win will get covered by big national media BUT it never harms trying.
Last but not least. Never send your press release to a group of journalists, EVEN if they work together at the same publication. Individualise each email. Start with a short and jolly email pitch outlining who you are and why you are emailing them. Include the title of the press release in the subject box and try to say something a bit quirky or different. My email intro’s are usually quite upbeat and I try to connect as quickly as possible.
Something along the lines of. Hello XXX, How are you on this fabulously sunny afternoon? Well I hope! And not too busy with a never ending flow of press releases…! You don’t know me, I am Sophie. I wanted to just drop you a quick email to say that XXX. If you fancy a chat to find out more, a Q&A, or any opinion articles written, I am at your service. Then I would add the release..you get the idea?
Once you have sent your award release out, you will hopefully get a plethora of overly excitable and zealous journalists emailing you back asking for everything, NOW. But if you don’t, don’t’ worry! Set up your google alerts so you can see any press coverage you might get over the coming week. And if you really can’t be bothered to do any of the above, drop me an email and I will do it for you.
Good luck! And welcome to the brave new world of Public Relations and if i can be of further help, please drop me an email: Sophie.firstname.lastname@example.org