Industry awards do more than feed agency egos

Winning awards is good for the soul and good for business, says Michael Echter of Michael Echter PR.

Getty Images
Getty Images

The 2019/2020 awards season has begun with the recent PRWeek Awards kickoff.

Some organizations approach the season head-on, with a strategic process that identifies their best work along with the best competitions and categories to enter.

Sometimes, the planning goes beyond winning individual awards. Organizations try to string together wins across competitions to build a crescendo at the most coveted program of all — the Cannes Lions.

Other organizations adopt an attitude of "we’ll enter a few things and if we win, we win" -- with no expectations or goals. And a few avoid awards altogether, viewing them as a business distraction and an unnecessary cost.

But there are numerous business reasons to play in the sport of industry awards. And the start of awards season is the right time to consider what kind of impact an investment in awards and credentialing can have on business.

For creative shops, the ability of their work to achieve recognition and demonstrate business impact is often tied to the purpose of the agency itself.

Delivering communications to lift business results is what most creative agencies do for clients every day. If they are doing it well, awards season becomes an exciting opportunity to curate the proof points.

For large agencies, consistently winning awards over time demonstrates not only the quality of their work, but their long-term ability to deliver success. For smaller agencies, winning an award can become a breakthrough moment that drives meaningful business and reputation growth.

Also, in the era of socially engaged and committed brands, award-winning campaigns become another chapter in an overarching story. Winning awards can highlight a brand’s personality and fire up stakeholders and consumers.

Often, organizations enter competitions to ensure that customers and influencers — who may serve as judges, attend awards events, or follow the coverage — are aware of their work.

Awards can also polish an organization’s reputation as an employer. The best professionals want to join winning teams. It’s good for the resume, the career path and one’s personal reputation.

As part of their awards strategy, some organizations even hold internal competitions, before awards season, to identify the campaigns with the highest potential and recognize employees.

And finally, awards season allows agencies to spotlight practice or specialty expertise and highlight markets or geographic regions to establish cultural relevance.

The Stevie Awards organization, which manages a variety of business award programs, cited a study that revealed more than 600 quality corporate award winners had 37% more sales growth and 44% higher stock price return than their peers.

Winning is not only good for the soul, it’s good business. If your organization takes a carefree approach to awards, it’s time to think more strategically about the opportunity.

The best thing about the new award season is the opportunity to start fresh. It should begin with a fresh understanding about how awards can help your business achieve its goals.

Michael Echter is a multi-decade PR pro who has established a passion and expertise in helping brands and their agencies enter and win industry awards. He can be reached at

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