The Lloyds Bank National Business Awards with Awards Director Sarah Austin

The Lloyds Bank National Business Awards with Awards Director Sarah Austin

The Lloyds Bank National Business Awards with Awards Director Sarah Austin

Winning Awards Podcast

By Donna O’Toole

In this episode of the Winning Awards Podcast, Donna O’Toole chats with The Lloyds Bank National Business Awards, Awards Director Sarah Austin.

The Lloyds Bank National Business Awards is one of the UK’s most prestigious awards programmes, recognising and rewarding excellence across all sectors. These awards are considered “the ones to win” – all UK companies are invited to enter, regardless of size or industry. The awards have a range of categories suited for any successful organisation to tell their story.

Sarah shares;

  • her journey into events and awards, from doing work experience at the NBAs and getting her degree in Events Management
  • the challenges for the events industry and their suppliers in 2020
  • the opportunities available to NBA finalists and winners 
  • her plans for the 2020 awards programme and beyond

And more!

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EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS

[01:47] Sarah got her first taste of the thrill of the National Business Awards and live events from doing work experience at the NBAs and going on to get her degree. Since then the awards have changed and evolved over the years.

 

“…for 24 hours I went into this madness, table planning, helping people with all these queries and really just running around the Grosvenor House in high heels. And it was brilliant. And I loved it. And that’s when I got the taste.”

[06:27] The National Business Awards have always aimed to celebrate the very best in British business and support British SMEs, which they do through their media partners and events, including their summer party at The House of Commons.

 

“The aims of the awards have always been to celebrate the very best of great British business. And so you can always under that umbrella, you know, there’s so much that you can work with, my particular themes that I like to bring out in it as you know, to celebrate innovation, ethics, teamwork, you know, very basic fundamentals and values that are important to a successful business.”

[10:57] The global pandemic has caused challenges for us all, and Sarah is no exception. Both personally and professionally, Sarah discusses some of the heartbreaking challenges for the events industry and their suppliers. Plus how vital the #WeAreEvents movement has been to raise awareness.

 

“I think the awards industry in particular, like with events, people by our very nature, were quite adaptable. So I knew that ideas would come out and we’d be okay but the with the #weareevents movement that’s happening recently and it’s like the camaraderie between everybody is amazing. And we can see, you know, all the venues lighting up and ready to send their message that we are events. We’re ready. We are adaptable. We can do it. And I think that’s so powerful.”

[18:24] Sarah and Donna reminisce about past NBA awards ceremonies and some of the amazing keynote speakers, Sarah also drops some hints on what to expect from the virtual 2020 awards ceremony.

 

“I think one of the things that 2020 is going to allow me to do is have more people involved than we normally would have. So I can’t give any names away. If you go by alumni, you will see we have you know, Buzz Aldrin, Tim Peake, Mo Farah. And you know, and that’s just the ones that come to my head. There’s been some incredible people. that we’ve had over the years. And I think each year we’ve set the bar higher and higher.”

[22:35] Awards naturally promote positivity, but a theme in this year’s entries was the confidence and honesty to say ‘this went wrong, but here’s how we adapted and coped with it’ and to see so many businesses going above and beyond to support their employees, customers and communities.[27:53] The National Business Awards give businesses the opportunity to say ‘we are the best in the country’ and Sarah’s message to those businesses who are wondering if they’re ready for national recognition is to seize the moment and put yourself forward.

 

“All of these businesses have something that is unique. And something that will be what perhaps to you is something quite normal. That actually if you put yourself in front of a panel of judges, that work that you do is sensational. You need to be recognised for that.”

 

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Winning Awards with Neil Skehel, CEO of Awards International

Winning Awards with Neil Skehel, CEO of Awards International

Winning Awards with Neil Skehel, CEO of Awards International

Winning Awards Podcast

By Donna O’Toole

In this episode of the Winning Awards Podcast, Donna O’Toole catches up with Awards International CEO Neil Skehel.

Awards International launched in 2008 and they successfully organise 11 Awards Programmes in the UK, UAE, Netherlands and Germany, giving much-deserved recognition to outstanding business initiatives. They believe winning awards creates real possibilities for personal and professional growth.

Neil shares;

  • His journey into awards, from award-winning McDonald’s Restaurant Manager to organising some of the most popular awards in the UK and Internationally,
  • The challenges of moving to digital award ceremonies in 2020,
  • His message to aspiring businesses.

And more!

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EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS

[01:48] From Restaurant Supervisor to CEO of UK and International Awards Programmes, Neil shares his journey into the world of awards, how awards have played a huge part in his career and how he came to be CEO of Awards International.

“We’re all in the business, in the awards business. Do you know that? And I was thinking, you know, when I got my first award, I think it was for swimming five metres when I was about five years old, generally and awards play such an important part in people’s lives.”

[06:58] Awards International awards portfolio has been successfully growing, reaching into new markets including The Netherlands and Germany. In 2020 the pandemic has put a halt to all live events, but Neil and his team have pivoted to overcome the challenge.

“I thought we were done for I thought, “What on earth is going to happen?” And I spoke to a few people who I do use as mentors to sort of cheer me up from time to time. They were like, No, no, no, no, you’ve got to do this. You’ve got to make this work”

[11:26] Neil and his team have successfully converted their 2020 awards programmes to be fully digital using their own software that ensures their scoring is as robust and secure as their in-person judging, and the event is still entertaining and enjoyable for entrants and guests.[14:40] Transparency is key when it comes to judging, and Neil has no problems being open and honest about the judging process Using their own unique software and large panels of independent judges, everyone has the same chance of winning no matter whether you are an SME or a global corporation.

“So for me, transparency has always been a really important part of what we do.”

[20:14] As our world continues to change and adapt, there is a place for digital events but Neil assures us live physical events will come back once it’s safe to do. But for now all eyes are on the UK Customer Experience Awards and how the event will be as incredible as it always is year-on-year.[29:41] With the pandemic affecting all businesses in unique ways, Awards International have included specific COVID-19 categories to reward those who have gone above and beyond to help their business, customers or employees.

“But you know, the world has changed. There is no going back. You know we know the conversation will all be about what we are doing. So you have to change, you have to change the categories.”

[33:33] Neil’s final thoughts and overriding message for all businesses is to just ‘do it,’ enter the awards, now is the perfect time to enter and will help with the recovery.

“The challenges that the coronavirus has brought us entering your team for an award can be just so powerful in terms of their own performance, in terms of reward, in terms of fun in terms of development, and all of those things are really important now as ever before.”

 

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Why Awards Should be Part of Your Marketing Strategy

Why Awards Should be Part of Your Marketing Strategy

Why Awards Should be Part of Your Marketing Strategy

Business Awards

By Donna O’Toole

From Start-ups and SMEs, to huge global organisations we all have and need a marketing strategy. And no matter your budget, awards should be included.

Awards can sometimes be overlooked when it comes to marketing. But an awards strategy can help to boost your business and brand awareness, all at a low cost with big impact.

A professional awards strategy will;

  • Help you choose the most valuable awards with the biggest return on investment
  • Help you decide the most relevant categories you are most likely to win
  • Help you manage and meet all your deadlines
  • Help you establish a workflow (for gathering vital evidence etc.)
  • Help you budget for the whole awards process (entry fees, ceremonies etc.)

So if you want to; enter awards you have the biggest chance of winning, raise your brand’s profile, recognise your team’s hard work, stop missing important industry awards, and put an end to submitting rushed last-minute losing entries…

You need an awards strategy! And if you’re not sure how to create one, we can help.

Here’s why awards should be part of your marketing strategy;

1) RECOGNITION

Whether you’re a winner, runner-up or a finalist, the third-party recognition you receive is invaluable. It will reinforce your marketing messages and raise your profile, so when you say you’re the best, you can prove that you really are!

Winning an award shows your existing customers you are trustworthy, reliable and a good business to spend their money with. And for new customers, being award-winning will give them a reason to choose you over their competitors.

Also, an award win, or finalist announcement will impress existing stakeholders and shareholders, and can be an effective tool to win over prospective investors.

2) ADDITIONAL PR COVERAGE

Becoming a finalist of awards with connections to local, national and industry press means you can benefit from FREE PR, saving you ££££s!

Awards such as The National Business Awards in 2019 partnered with The i, The Scotsman and The Yorkshire Post. Similarly, The Amazon Scale-Up Awards are organised by Business Leader Magazine. Both awards publish finalists and winners in articles that reach a huge readership.

Industry trade magazines often run their own awards programme and will publish you as a result of your participation – getting you valuable industry coverage.

3) LOW-COST LOW-RISK MARKETING

Marketing campaigns usually require a big budget. But entering awards is a relatively low-cost exercise that has a fast impact on your results.

Depending on the awards programme, entry fees can range from being free to a couple hundred pounds. By creating an awards strategy you can make decisions on which awards to enter based on your budget.

If you win, you have spent a small amount and achieved a huge result. If you are a finalist you have still gained valuable exposure. And if you don’t win this time, you will learn from the experience, and it won’t affect your bottom line.

4) BRAND AWARENESS

Awards can present some fantastic opportunities for networking, partnerships and sponsorships. All of which will increase your brand’s exposure and awareness in your chosen industries – which is a great way to find new customers and partners.

Award ceremonies are huge events attended by CEOs, business leaders and decision-makers.

If you want to grow in an industry you supply, getting yourself invited to an awards ceremony where your ideal customer will be is the perfect opportunity for exposure. You can network and create relationships with the brands you are interested in, either as clients or as collaborators.

Sponsoring and partnering with an awards programme will require a bigger budget, but if you choose the right event for you it can have a huge ROI. Again, having an awards strategy can help you decide the best opportunities for your business.

5) PROJECT MANAGEMENT

When you make awards part of your marketing strategy, an awards strategy will help you manage your time and the entry process.

We get so many enquiries from companies wanting to enter an important industry award where the deadline is as little as a week away! Usually because they have received a final deadline reminder and it was not part of their marketing strategy.

Depending on the length of the entry, the project you are entering and how many people are involved, you will need to plan in how much time is needed to gather the evidence, create the story and complete the entry.

With an awards strategy in place you can plan time for each step of the entry process; writing a first draft, editing, second draft, final edits, signoff and submission.

Planning time for all these steps will radically reduce stress and improve the quality of your entries, giving you a much higher chance of success.

HOW TO WIN AWARDS AND BOOST YOUR BUSINESS

Entering awards takes time, energy, and requires skill but it is worth it!

If you are ready to enter awards contact us to find out how our award writing experts can take the pressure off and write your entries for you. Or read our tips on how to write a winning award entry.

Take advantage of our full bespoke awards package where we can create your awards strategy, write your award entries and support you throughout the whole process.

9 out of 10 clients win when we fully support them with our full awards service.

Get in touch today for your free consultation and find out how we can help you build your brand through awards recognition.

 

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Personal Branding for Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs

Personal Branding for Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs

Personal Branding for Business Leaders and Entrepreneurs

Business Awards

By Donna O’Toole

We were honoured to be invited to the Natwest Entrepreneur Accelerator Brighton Hub to talk about the importance of awards for personal branding and thought leadership.

Hosted by Natwest Entrepreneur Development Manager Kristina Pereckaite, the #PowerUp your Personal Brand event was a wonderful opportunity to talk to aspiring entrepreneurs and business leaders, giving them actionable takeaways to improve their personal brands.

WINNING AWARDS TO BUILD YOUR PERSONAL BRAND

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August CEO Donna O’Toole took to the stage to inspire the room to take their personal branding seriously and enhance their reputation!

Donna shared her entrepreneurial story and demonstrated how you can use your unique story and business results to win awards and raise your profile, no matter the size of your business.

Gaining external credibility and recognition from awards verifies your achievements and gives you third-party credibility, which instils trust in your expertise and ultimately business. Winning awards gives you valuable PR opportunities, fantastic networking events, and provides a step-up to the next level in your entrepreneurial journey.

PERSONAL BRANDING 101

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The panel consisted of five personal branding gurus. All focusing on their own area of expertise;

  • Donna O’Toole our very own awards expert, talked the audience through getting into the right awards competitions and how to write your entry for the best chance of winning.
  • Kerry Watkins founder of Social Brighton ran-through some thought-provoking activities about the impact of personal LinkedIn profiles on your personal brand.
  • Jude Bolton, founder of Speaking Works demonstrated the importance of voice, breathing and balance when public speaking or presenting in business pitches.
  • Louise Stevenson, CEO of Speakeasy Coaching demonstrated how to exude confidence when speaking, and how to inject humour for audience engagement.
  • Personal Branding Coach Vicky Booker explained how physical appearance (clothes, make-up, grooming etc.) impacts on how you are perceived, and what message your image gives to prospective customers and partners.

It was great to hear from each one of the fantastic speakers. Everyone in the room was excited to take their hints and tips and start improving their personal brands and we are looking forward to seeing the accelerator entrepreneurs start winning awards for their achievements soon!

 

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2019 New Year’s Honours List

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read more

International Customer Experience Awards Winners 2019

International Customer Experience Awards Winners 2019

International Customer Experience Awards Winners 2019

Business Awards

By Donna O’Toole

INTERNATIONAL CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE AWARDS WINNERS 2019

We were thrilled to attend and judge at the 2019 International Customer Experience Awards Finals held in Amsterdam.

Inspiring international organisations are recognised for their exceptional customer experience. SMEs, large global businesses and professionals from all industries compete to win.

If you’ve innovated, transformed or are leading your industry in CX these are one of the awards you need to win!

PRESENTATIONS TO THE JUDGES

The awards follow the same format as the UK Customer Experience Awards.

Finalists present to the judges during the daytime event before finding out the winners in the evening. So no need to wait months to find out if you’ve won.

Presentations are 15 minutes long with an additional 15 minute Q&A with the judges. The judges’ questions help to bag some last-minute points you may have missed in your presentation and could be the difference between Gold and Silver!

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Our CEO, Donna O’Toole was part of the judging panel for Most Effective Customer Experience in Social Media category this year. She said,

“It was great to be a part of the international customer experience awards and to see some of the incredible customer experience transformations being made across the world! It’s great to meet the teams behind them and hear exactly how they have made a mark on their businesses and customers.”

“Judging the entries is always an interesting activity, and seeing the hard work of the entrants come to life in a face-to-face presentation is a real privilege. It’s an incredibly revealing process; there is nowhere to hide when it comes to the judge’s questions, but the best teams always shine bright in the end.”

Attendees were invited to watch the finalists present to the judges. A fantastic opportunity to gain insights into the current customer experience trends (and check out the competition).

Throughout the day the venue is a hub for networking, sharing a coffee and lunch with colleagues, and connecting with sponsors.

INTERNATIONAL CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE AWARDS WINNERS 2019

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Winners included Telkom Indonesia, The Holly Private Hospital, Dell, HP, KCB Group and many more very happy teams!

Silver awards were given to the very close runners up who included Shell, Caterpillar, TUI Benelux and Dubai Electricity and Water Authority.

And there are even bronze awards for the very best of the rest, including tado, E.ON and Sberbank.

We would like to say a huge congratulations to all the winners at this years’ International Customer Experience Awards, and to all the finalists. And a huge thank you to Awards International for organising such a successful event.

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WINNING OPPORTUNITIES

The awards don’t stop there.

Two weeks after the event, all finalists receive a feedback report from the judges, providing invaluable insights and comments on where they excelled, how they compared to the winner, and where to improve for next year.

The International Customer Experience Awards will open again in 2020. But before they do, winners need to be shouting about their win. And finalists, we’d love to hear from you!

We can help you to understand where you dropped points and what your next steps should be. Contact us today to book in your free consultation call.

And we look forward to the 2020 awards which promise to be bigger and better!

 

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2019 New Year’s Honours List

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Congratulations to the 1148 who people have started the New Year with an incredible accolade; an honour from The Queen in the 2019 New Year’s Honours List. The list features celebrities, sports professionals and extraordinary individuals, honouring them for their achievements, dedication to charity, and outstanding work in their chosen industries.

read more