How Coronavirus is Affecting the Awards Industry

How Coronavirus is Affecting the Awards Industry

How Coronavirus is Affecting the Awards Industry

Industry Insights

By Donna O’Toole

These last few weeks have been totally surreal.

Last year, when the awards industry was planning its 2020 calendar of events, it did not expect to be re-planning them just a few months later, in possibly the most challenging circumstances any of us have ever known.

So naturally, after getting past the initial shock of the arrival of COVID-19 into our lives, and making all the necessary checks on our families, friends, colleagues, customers and connections. And after giving huge thanks for the incredible heroes looking after us all on the front line of hospitals, schools, shops and more, our conversations have turned to business.

The most popular business question I have answered all week is without doubt:

“So what’s happening in the awards industry?”

And my answer has been simple.

“The show must go on!”

Because that’s exactly what I’ve been told by awards organisers around the world. And my goodness they are rising to the challenge!

But before I give you the industry insights, and feedback from some of our most beloved awards programmes, I need to be clear about something.

Awards are NOT about shiny trophies, sparkly dresses, and penguin suits.

Awards are about PEOPLE.

  • The thousands of people who work in awards teams to deliver exciting, engaging awards programmes to recognise the best businesses and individuals across every industry.
  • The thousands of people who work in hospitality and events day and night to create and implement the spectacular ceremonies that bring your teams together.
  • The thousands of people who apply their expertise to every single awards programme with lighting, music, sound, and film as well as the artistes who entertain us.
  • The thousands of people who spend their ‘spare’ time judging your award entries and pouring over the tiniest details to find the right winners.
  • The thousands of people who work in awards, marketing, and PR agencies to support businesses and individuals to raise their profile through winning awards.
  • And the thousands upon thousands of people who work so hard every year in their businesses, departments, and teams to deliver the projects that are so worthy of awards recognition.

ALL these people matter to the awards industry.

And right now, they are ALL pulling together to do quite literally everything in their power to bring you the best awards you will ever experience. Despite the challenges.

Why?

Because we, the industry, are passionate about our purpose.

We are proud of our people and our skills.

And we are positive that we can help you to come through this incredibly difficult time with a stronger brand and a higher profile than ever before, so that you can move into the coming years with all the power you need to succeed.

We know the value that professional, credible recognition will bring to your business. We see the millions of pounds of business that happen at every awards ceremony. We experience the incredible partnerships and friendships made at the events. And we feel the power and energy that recognition gives to YOUR people and YOUR brands.

Right then…so what IS happening in the awards industry?

Adaption. Adoption. Innovation. That’s what.

The awards ceremonies due to take place over the next few months are either adapting and moving their ceremony to a later date, or they are adopting new technologies and innovating to take their celebrations online.

So there is no need for you to miss out on a single trophy, and you might even find that you end up with more time to prepare, and more valuable digital assets to promote you than ever before!

Remember, awards look BACK at what you have already achieved – so you can take advantage of this and use your growth from the last few years to help you get some positive PR for the years ahead.

We’ll also be setting up our training online so you’ll be able to use your time wisely to upskill and prepare for your next award entries very soon too.

Personally, my hopes for when we come through this, are that we will have grown as people, supported each other, innovated for good, and that the awards industry will be recognising people and brands for their incredible and heroic behaviour, resilience, partnerships, collaborations, crisis management and above all else, kindness.

Stay strong. Stay safe.

Together we will win.

 

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Strengthening Your Brand During a Crisis

Strengthening Your Brand During a Crisis

Strengthening Your Brand During a Crisis

Industry Insights

By Donna O’Toole

In the midst of a global crisis, this morning I picked up the paper and look what fell out…

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A Saga brochure advertising the company’s “Award-Winning” boutique cruises.

At a time when we all face personal and professional uncertainty, when we are all thinking about the health and safety of our family and friends, and when we quite literally don’t know what our next business steps will be, there it was…Saga’s battle plan.

We have all been hit by the same overwhelming problem, and the travel sector is one industry amongst many that has been thrust into utter turmoil by Covid-19.

Cruises have suffered hugely from the impact and publicity given to outbreaks on board. And the over-50s ‘Saga’ market are the exact people we are being told to tuck away until it’s safe to come out again.

So why on earth are Saga ploughing their resources into beautiful awards-laden brochures that shout about what a great cruise holiday choice they are?

Because they are a very good example of a resilient, resourceful, trustworthy brand, that’s why!

Saga built its brand on “trust, quality, dependability and value for older people”. And in response to the crisis, they are putting themselves in the spotlight to prove that this is EXACTLY what they STILL are!

This is a smart and absolutely necessary marketing strategy because it not only reassures existing customers, it will attract new ones.

The brochure shows beautiful images of cruises. A money-back guarantee. And reassuring, tempting, values-driven messaging that showcases a safe, relaxing, enjoyable holiday. Perfect!

And the awards they show in the brochure are up to date, relevant, and highly regarded so they bring real value and credibility, and are HUGELY reassuring for their customers and contacts.

Well done Saga. We’re all right behind you.

WHAT’S THIS GOT TO DO WITH YOU?

This is a pivotal moment for all sectors, not just the travel industry. And sadly only the most crisis-resilient brands will be able to keep fighting for their place at the top of their sector.

Back in January I shared a blog that showed how the brands who pulled back on their marketing during the financial recessions of the last 100 years were overtaken by the successful brands who were brave enough to shift gears and keep going during the crisis. And I explained how once life was all back to normal, the ones who had waited, had effectively handed over their top spot as the market leader.

AND I DON’T WANT THAT TO HAPPEN TO YOU

This will be one of the most challenging business times of our lives. So as soon as you can, you need to start strengthening your brand by sticking to your marketing strategy and boosting your brand presence as much as you can.

One of the quickest and most effective ways to do this is by winning the best awards you possibly can NOW.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW TO WIN

The vast majority of business awards will be taking in entries over the next few months, but their ceremonies are not until the autumn or beyond.

In the meantime, many awards organisers have also told me of their contingency plans to go ‘virtual’ or to adapt events that are coming up. So there is no need for you to miss out on a trophy. Here’s a few insights that might help too:

  1. Awards will help to keep your team’s morale up, show them you value their hard work, and give them something POSITIVE to focus on to keep them motivated, engaged and reassured through tough times.
  2. Awards that look at your financial performance will examine your growth in the last 1-3 years (typically). Now in the next few months could take a dip, but that won’t be relevant to your 2020 award entries because awards look BACK to what you’ve already achieved when scoring points! So MAXIMISE the awards you can enter now, don’t leave it until next year when a dip in 2020 could stop you from winning. (I know that sounds harsh, but it’s true. There will be other brands you’ll compete against next year who avoided a dip, and even grew during this period – like the companies making hand sanitizer, soap, loo roll, and digital tools!)
  3. Your existing customers, partners and suppliers NEED to hear some good news from you to feel reassured and stay faithful! Becoming an awards finalist, and later, a winner will keep raising your profile and boosting your marketing and PR messages.
  4. New customers need extra confidence to buy from you, so show them you are credible with as many CURRENT awards badges as you can. I can guarantee your competitors will be promoting themselves heavily, so don’t just sit back and let them take all the business because their awards wins are more up-to-date than yours.
  5. All’s fair in love and war – and awards (well, the ones we work with anyway) and frankly, logic says that if everyone else is too busy to enter – your chances of winning will only go up! Take advantage of the fact that your competition could be too distracted to enter and get focused on your award entries so you increase your likelihood of success.

We are already set up for flexible working so we’ve left the office for a little while, but this is your opportunity to book a FREE ZOOM MEETING to chat through your situation, see if there are any awards out there you could be winning, and find out what you need to do to keep your brand strong during the coming year.

And even if you’re not sure about awards and just want to chat to someone who will be positive, give you hope, and a bit of inspiration, I’m very happy to hop on a call with you too. No strings. No obligation. Just a bit of business support from one person to another. Because right now, we all need to do everything we can to keep each other’s businesses thriving. It’s all hands on deck until this particular saga sails into the sunset.

Stay strong. Stay safe. Together we will win.

With my warmest wishes,

Donna

Ps. We’re moving our unique awards training programme into a series of live-learning events you can join from home to get you winning too. These will have a limited attendance for each masterclass so let me know if you’re interested and I’ll make sure we send you the details first.

Pps. And when this is all over, let me show you how your strength and survival can help you to win some excellent Business Resilience Awards. You got this!

 

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The Lloyds Bank National Business Awards 2020

The Lloyds Bank National Business Awards 2020

The Lloyds Bank National Business Awards 2020

Business Awards News

By Donna O’Toole

The Lloyds Bank National Business Awards are open for 2020!

These are one of the most prestigious business awards in the UK. They provide a national platform for you to share your success story.

And with media partners including Business Matters Magazine, The i, The Scotsman and The Yorkshire Post, the PR opportunities are incredible and not to be missed!

We have supported entrants to win year-on-year and for the second year running we have been chosen as the awards official entry partner.

So if you are headquartered in the UK and have a great success story, these are the awards to win!

AWARD CATEGORIES

The Lloyds Bank Exporter of the Year Award
The Lloyds Bank Mid-Market Business of the Year Award
The Lloyds Bank New Business of the Year Award
The Lloyds Bank Small to Medium-Sized Business of the Year Award
The Lloyds Bank Positive Social Impact Award
The Inflexion Entrepreneur of the Year Award
The Data Excellence Award
The Give a Grad a Go Employer of the Year Award
The Castle Corporate Finance Scale-Up Business of the Year Award
The LDC Growth Through Innovation Award
The Virgin Atlantic Customer Experience & Loyalty Award
The Artificial Intelligence Award
The Business Enabler of the Year Award
The New Entrepreneur of the Year Award
The Leader of the Year Award

HOW TO ENTER

The first stage is to submit your award-winning written entry; early-bird deadline 24 April 2020 and the final deadline is 5 June 2020.

And on the 27 March 2020 we will be hosting a ‘How to Write a Winning National Business Award Entry’ webinar. The webinar is free and you can click here to sign up.

The shortlist will be announced the 14 July 2020. Finalists will then be asked to present to a panel of judges in September 2020.

EXCLUSIVE AWARDS SUPPORT

We have no view or influence on the judging process. But we do have years of experience in crafting winning entries and we know what catches the judges’ attention.

Our support for the Lloyds Bank National Business Awards is highly limited.

We only work with one organisation per category.

So if you would like our support to win get in touch today to secure your preferred category.

And we will see you at the glamourous awards ceremony in London on the 10 November 2020!

 

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2019 Queen’s Awards for Enterprise Winners Announced

2019 Queen’s Awards for Enterprise Winners Announced

2019 Queen’s Awards for Enterprise Winners Announced

The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise

By Donna O’Toole

2019 Queen’s Awards for Enterprise Winners Announced!

On The Queen’s 93rd birthday, 201 businesses were announced as the 2019 Queen’s Award for Enterprise winners. This year, three-quarters of the winners are SMEs, including businesses with less than 10 employees.

The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise is the most prestigious award a UK business can win. Winners can use the official winners’ emblem for 5 years, this is recognised across the world as a mark of excellence.

Past winners of the International Trade category have seen up to 73% growth in their international sales and global recognition. This year InnovateUK have provided funding for 1 in 5 innovation winners.

There are only 4 categories to enter, each with a rigorous criteria, and are designed to highlight the very best UK businesses. This year there are;

  • 129 International Trade winners
  • 61 Innovation winners
  • 6 Sustainable Development winners
  • 5 Promoting Opportunity winners

You can find the full list of winners here, and read about one of our own Queen’s Award winners – SciChart won in the Innovation category, read their story here.

Winners Benefits

Winners are invited to a Royal reception at Buckingham Palace alongside all the other winners from all 4 categories, which is a fantastic PR and networking opportunity.

As mentioned, winners receive an emblem they can use on all marketing materials, products, and websites. Winners are also allowed to fly The Queen’s Award flag at their main office.

In addition, winners will be awarded a Crystal trophy and a Grant of Appointment by one of The Queen’s representatives, usually the Lord Lieutenant of the County they are based. Again, a great PR opportunity, and celebration to be shared with employees and shareholders.

Winning can open many doors for your business, and provide previously unattainable opportunities.

2020 Deadline and criteria

Entries for the 2020 awards opened on 1 May 2019 and will deadline Midday 10 September 2020.

Each category has its own criteria, and this year it has been updated and changed. So if you’ve entered in the past and been unsuccessful, you should check the new criteria and see if you have a better chance of winning in 2020.

If you want your business to join the exclusive list of Queen’s Award winners then get in touch.

We know the awards inside out, and will give you a free, impartial, honest assessment on your chances of winning. Don’t worry if you’re not eligible at this moment in time, we can advise you on what to work towards to enter in the future.

You can take a look at each categories eligibility assessments here and make your own decision on whether you are eligible to enter.

 

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Sussex Chamber of Commerce – Business Leaders Conference

Sussex Chamber of Commerce – Business Leaders Conference

Sussex Chamber of Commerce – Business Leaders Conference

Personal Branding

By Donna O’Toole

 

On the 28th November, our CEO Donna O’Toole was humbled and honoured to speak at the Sussex Chamber of Commerce’s Business Leaders Conference 2017. Set in The Grand Hotel Brighton, the sheer impressiveness of the venue was matched by the inspirational entrepreneurs and business leaders in attendance.

The Event

Following lunch and a chance to network with other attendees, Donna took to the stage as the first speaker of the afternoon to inspire, motivate and encourage the room. Telling them the power of winning industry awards and how they too could become more profitable than their competitors through the awards they win.

Throughout her talk Donna let the crowd in on some of her trade secrets. Such as how to win prestigious local, national and international awards such as the Chamber Awards and The Queen’s Award for Enterprise. With her audience’s interest piqued, an array of questions were asked, including one from David Sheppard Chairman of Sussex Chamber who discussed the need to provide evidence within an award entry, before a well-deserved round of applause broke out around the opulent hall. 

Sussex Chamber of Commerce, Business Leaders Conference, Donna O'Toole, August, Awards Expert, Entrepreneur

Ben Towers – Bedroom to Boardroom

Next we heard from the highly successful, young entrepreneur Ben Towers. At only 19 years old he has successfully created, run and completed a multi-million pound merger of his own company.

Ben took us through the story of his business life. From building websites at only 11 years old as a freelance web designer and using Youtube ‘How to’ videos as a tool for learning new skills, to having his bedroom set up as an office and his school reprimanding him for having a business whilst studying for his GCSEs. Ben even had to hire himself as an apprentice to prove he was continuing his education!

After divulging his life story, Ben began to talk about the struggles of gaining media attention and the internet trolls that come with it. However, this challenge has led him to become an ambassador of the organisation ‘bullies out’ – which we think is a true testament of his character.

The whole room was enthralled by Ben’s speech and we would like to say thank you to Ben for sharing his story and wish him the very best of luck in all his future endeavours.

Sussex Chamber of Commerce, Business Leaders Conference, Ben Towers, Entrepreneur

Professor Chris Roebuck – Delivering Success Through I CARE Leadership

The final speaker of the afternoon was Professor Chris Roebuck, visiting Professor of Transformational Leadership from Cass Business School. Founded on 35 years of experience working for huge Global brands such as UBS and Aston Martin as well as SMEs, Chris developed the innovative ‘I CARE’ Leadership approach.

Chris opened our eyes to how poor leadership, delegation and time management leads to unhappy employees, profit loss and high employee turnover. He explained how his ‘I CARE’ leadership approach could easily rectify this issue without spending a single penny and would in fact bring in more money.

This valuable message resonated with the room full of many SME business leaders and entrepreneurs. They could take it away and start implementing it within their own businesses straight away. It was great to hear from such an experienced leadership expert and gain so much knowledge. We would like to thank Chris for opening our eyes and can’t wait to see how his ‘I CARE’ Leadership continues to transform the business world.

Sussex Chamber of Commerce, Business Leaders Conference, Professor Chris Roebuck, Leadership

Final thoughts

We’d like to thank Ana Christie, David Sheppard and everyone at the Sussex Chamber of Commerce for organising such an empowering event and setting the stage for an inspirational afternoon. We can not thank you enough for the support you give August and we look forward to supporting many more businesses in the Chamber to grow and succeed by raising their profile.

If you want to learn more about the Chamber and how they can help you click here – Do you know about the Chamber’s awards? Find out about their awards here.

If you would like a free awards discovery consultation simply click here to book.

 

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