The Freedom to Win Awards

The Freedom to Win Awards

The Freedom to Win Awards

Industry Insights

By Donna O’Toole

‘FREEDOM’ TO WIN AWARDS

As we celebrated ‘Freedom Day’ to signify a return to some sort of normality for the UK, there is a sense of optimism that the business world is – finally – getting back on its feet.

The feeling of being free to express yourself once again has a definite parallel with the awards industry, where virtually all businesses are potentially eligible for a range of different awards – the opportunity to showcase your unique achievements and impact is there for the taking and all it takes is that leap of faith to start your awards journey.

However, with thousands of awards and individual categories out there, it’s a real minefield if you’re not sure which awards are right for you to meet your business’s core goals. That’s where we can help.

CRAFTING A BESPOKE AWARDS STRATEGY

With a clear awards strategy, becoming an award-winner will help you achieve your core business goals.

Our research shows that businesses with a bespoke annual awards strategy win more awards than those without. We will work with you on a one-to-one basis to plan your unique route to awards success. We will then present a detailed awards strategy that will kickstart your awards journey and raise your profile across your industry and beyond.

You will benefit from:

  • Full awards assessment, research and analysis
  • Exclusive awards insights
  • Guidance on which awards you have a good chance of winning, and why
  • Detailed information for planning and budgeting for each award

Then, with a full understanding of your best awards opportunities, you can either choose to work on all the award entries and presentations yourself, or instruct us to substantially increase your chances of winning and save you hours of valuable time by selecting one of our full awards service packages.

WORK WITH A LEADING AWARDS AGENCY

With extensive experience at getting recognition for our clients – in all sectors – we are well-placed to look after your awards needs. If you would like to learn more about getting a bespoke awards strategy created for your business, simply click here.

DISCOVER MORE

To find out more about the awards industry and how we work, head over to our handy FAQs page. Here, you’ll find eight different sections covering everything you need to know to begin your journey.

If you have a specific awards enquiry, simply complete our online form to contact us, and we’ll be in touch as soon as possible.

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2019 New Year’s Honours List

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Increasing Awareness of Mental Health & Wellbeing

Increasing Awareness of Mental Health & Wellbeing

Increasing Awareness of Mental Health & Wellbeing

Industry Insights

By Donna O’Toole

MENTAL HEALTH MATTERS

At this time – more than ever before – mental health and wellbeing is of particular importance as we recover from the global pandemic, which has severely affected millions of people across the world.

The current climate of uncertainty and doubt has impacted most of us in different ways and now, during Mental Health Awareness Week, we have the perfect opportunity to raise the profile of mental health and ensure that this message is spread as far and wide as possible.

In acknowledging this, the awards industry has reacted with the introduction of more dedicated awards and categories that recognise individuals and businesses that have launched effective, engaging mental health programmes.

POSITIVE MENTAL HEALTH IN THE WORKPLACE

One such example is the Great British Workplace Wellbeing Awards, which have recently been launched to champion the outstanding steps taken by employers, service providers and individuals in response to our global wellbeing crisis. Categories such as ‘Best Support for Furloughed Workers’, ‘Best Support for Remote Workers’ and ‘Best Covid-19 Company Response’ identify specific circumstances that have been directly influenced by the pandemic. Other categories celebrate more general mental health-related accomplishments like ‘Lifetime Commitment to Wellbeing’ and ‘Best Wellbeing Service Provider’.

In addition to awards themselves, the team at the Great British Workplace Wellbeing Awards has organised a series of events for business leaders to explore workplace wellbeing hot topics including ‘Maintaining a wellbeing culture post-pandemic’. These are a great way to learn and discover new strategies for approaching this hot topic.

The Mental Health and Wellbeing Awards are purely focused on recognising exceptional wellbeing initiatives that have transformed lives and had a huge positive impact. Entries can be made for categories including ‘Innovative Mental Health Intervention, ‘Support During the Pandemic’ and ‘Outstanding Contribution to the Mental Health Sector’.

Other awards outside the wellbeing sphere have added new categories for 2021 to reflect the challenges that many businesses have faced with regards to looking after their employees’ mental health. For example, the European Contact Centre & Customer Service Awards now feature ‘Best Health and Wellbeing Programme’ and ‘Best Flexible Working Approach’ as part of their awards programme.

WE ARE HERE TO HELP YOU

If you have implemented a successful mental health and wellbeing programme within your business or organisation, we would love to hear your story as it could well be an award-worthy project. With extensive experience at getting recognition for our clients – in all sectors – we are well-placed to look after your awards needs. If you would like to find out more and get in touch with us, simply click here.

DISCOVER MORE

We are all in this together and it’s vital that we can look after our peers – whatever they might be going through.

For more mental health information and access to a wealth of resources, head over to the Mental Health Foundation website.

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2019 New Year’s Honours List

2019 New Year’s Honours List

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

Does your business need a boost right now?

Does your business need a boost right now?

Does your business need a boost right now?

Industry Insights

By Donna O’Toole

As we begin January 2021 in the UK with another call to stay at home and save lives, there can be no doubt that the pandemic continues to make an impact on business.

Of course, this situation is very real for the awards industry too, but interestingly, this makes for some rare and very positive new opportunities that should not be overlooked.

I want to share some valuable insights with you now, so that you can take your business into 2021 with all the motivation and power you need to come out of this stronger than ever before:

  • Awards programmes have adapted to take any impact from the pandemic into account in your entries – so don’t let a blip while you pivoted or transformed put you off entering.
  • A new wave of categories has been embraced by awards, giving employers more opportunity to reward and celebrate their teams’ work during the pandemic, driving them forward with the boost they need to bring the business through the next wave.
  • More businesses than ever entered awards in 2020 – surprising but true! The most popular awards in the country received record entries, creating thriving, buzzing events.
  • Awards logos became more valuable than ever as the world went shopping online, seeking reassurance from award-winners’ logos on websites and social media, giving them the trust they needed to buy and know they were in safe hands. For example, one of our clients saw a 30% uplift in sales within three months of adding a logo to his site!

Many awards programmes took their ceremonies online in 2020 and will do so again in 2021. This means a few things:

  1. No hotels, no transport, no new LBD. So awards ceremonies have become better value than ever to attend and celebrate with your teams, suppliers and partners. You can even arrange awards hampers to celebrate in alternative ways together!
  2. Instant PR can be gained during ceremonies with screenshots of the events, teams, videos etc. and shared instantly online, which is where your target market is.
  3. Networking at awards has become easier than ever with opportunities set up for one-to-one and round table chats with entrepreneurs and leaders who can help you, and whom you might otherwise never meet… and who you certainly couldn’t take a screenshot with and share before now!
  4. International awards are more easily accessible than ever before as the pitches to judges and ceremonies are all online. This strengthens and grows your global audience in an instant, growing your reporting potential immediately.
  5. Even The Queen stepped up with an extra list of honours for people pulling together in business and the community during the pandemic!

So what do you do now? How do you make sure your brand stays alive and thrives in 2021?

I’d love you to come to my next FREE 2021 Awards Strategy Meeting. It’s just 1 hour, it’s all on zoom (obvs), and you can ask me any awards and business-related questions you like. I promise you will leave feeling braver, stronger and more inspired to take your business forward into 2021 with more power than ever before.

We have limited seats so click here to save your space now.

And if you don’t have time next week but you want to get started on making sure your brand still shines brightly in 2021, you can learn a lot from listening to inspirational awards stories on my podcast and you can start work on your award strategy and entries with our support at our next Awards Accelerator online training day on the 22nd January.

It’s time to stop waiting and start winning again in 2021.

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2019 New Year’s Honours List

2019 New Year’s Honours List

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.

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What does recognition really do? The New Year Honours List 2021

What does recognition really do? The New Year Honours List 2021

What does recognition really do? The New Year Honours List 2021

Industry Insights

By Donna O’Toole

After all the hardship of 2020, it’s great to see that the New Year Honours List is dominated by deserving recipients who have used their time, skills, and incredible spirit to give back to their fellow humans, professions, industries and communities in one way or another, and often despite their own personal battles.

Don’t get distracted by the big stars the media highlights for these awards. The vast majority (literally a couple of thousand honours a year) go to regular people who are just getting on with their lives but demonstrating great determination, innovation, altruism, compassion and purpose as they use what they have and know to make a positive impact on the world.

The diversity of The List is broadening every year, which is good to see, and shows that no matter who you are, it’s never too early or too late to make an impact.

So how can we make sure people who are doing great things are recognised next year, and what does ‘recognition’ really do for people anyway? Read on for some highlights from the 2021 Queen’s New Year Honours List and to find out how and why to nominate someone yourself for recognition too.

Out of 1239 honours given:

*65% (Over 800) have undertaken outstanding work in their communities either in a voluntary or paid capacity – like Emma Henderson, the airline pilot who co-founded Project Wingman, creating “first-class lounges” in 80 hospitals for exhausted NHS workers. And like paramedic Tom Cuthbertson and his wife Carla who received MBEs after turning the tragic loss of their son Nathan into something positive by fundraising in his memory.

Tom and Carla Cuthbertson who set up a charity in memory of their son have been made MBEs. Source: Chronicle Live, Sunderland parents said their son would be ‘looking down with pride’ as they're made MBEs

Tom and Carla Cuthbertson who set up a charity in memory of their son have been made MBEs. Source: Chronicle Live, Sunderland parents said their son would be ‘looking down with pride’ as they’re made MBEs

*14.8% of honours went to public sector workers including medics, police, firefighters and teachers – like Catherine Fitzsimmons MBE, a former palliative care nurse who came out of retirement to help with the Covid-19 response, and Karen McDowell MBE, Station Commander with Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, who was recognised for her services to the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service and to the LGBTQ community.

*10% (123) went to our incredible health and social care workers, including 41 nurses and midwives, as well as care home managers, GPs, surgeons, volunteers and so many more who have helped to support others, save lives through innovative treatments and gone out of their way to provide care during the pandemic.

*9% (111) went to entrepreneurs and business leaders making an impact on business and the economy. Many of these are small business owners who diverted resources to help others, used their skills to teach others, created jobs, changed industries for the better, innovated, and excelled in a way that kept the wheels of the economy moving but was not purely about profits.

I’ve talked before about how altruism is setting entrepreneurs apart, and great examples of entrepreneurs doing good with what they already have are 28-year-old BiteMedicine founder Dr Azeem Alam, who provided free and innovative medical education during COVID-19, teaching over 10,000 medical students worldwide via online tools and webinars. And MBE recipient Manoj Varsani, tech entrepreneur and founder of the property management tool Hammock, who used his skills and platform to set up the voluntary organisation SOS Supplies to help provide more PPE to schools and the NHS.

Dr Azeem Alam provided free and innovative medical education during COVID-19. Source: BiteMedicine

Dr Azeem Alam provided free and innovative medical education during COVID-19. Source: BiteMedicine

Services to…

I always find the vast and yet niche range of ‘services to’ that people are given awards for, really interesting, like Isobel Sheldon, the director of business development at UK Battery Industrialisation Centre who received an OBE for her services to motor vehicle battery technology… pretty niche, but her work is vastly valuable in that industry.

Age is no barrier to making an impact either. The oldest person on the 2021 Honours List is 106 yr old Anne Baker who received an MBE for fundraising for the NSPCC. The youngest is 20 year old BEM recipient Samah Khalil, the Youth Mayor of Oldham, showing it’s never too early to have a difference. One of the youngest people to be honoured last year was Theo Wride who was just 16 when he received a BEM for services to the community during the Covid-19 response – what an inspirational young man.

Topping the sports list for me was rugby legend Rob Burrow, who received an MBE for the awareness he has raised around motor neuron disease particularly during the pandemic.

And from the area of Arts and Culture, which has been so painfully impacted by the pandemic, there was a range of actors and actresses recognised, but also inspirational industry experts and entrepreneurs like Pat McGrath, the make-up artist from Northampton, who has brought much-needed diversity to the fashion and beauty industry. A few years ago Pat was made an MBE, this year her honour was raised up to a Damehood as her impact has increased; she is known for speaking out about her experiences as a woman of colour and becoming an incredible role model for others wanting to follow her path into the industry.

Pat McGrath to become a Dame for her services to the makeup industry. Source: Vogue, Pat McGrath Is the First Makeup Artist to Be Named a Dame

Pat McGrath to become a Dame for her services to the makeup industry. Source: Vogue, Pat McGrath Is the First Makeup Artist to Be Named a Dame

There are so many more people I would love to shine a light on here, and I’m sure there are people you can think of have not had any recognition at all, but who truly deserve it. So what can you do about that, and why should you make the effort, and what does that recognition really do anyway?

Recognition conveys appreciation. It says thank you. It shows gratitude. It builds relationships. It inspires innovation. And ultimately, it drives people forward with more vigour than ever to do even more good in the world.

We see the impact of recognition in the workplace all the time: One study revealed that employees who are given recognition show 26% increase in engagement22% increase in effectiveness, and 33% increase in innovation. And 88% of employees who were recognised for their contribution said they were more motivated and inspired to do even better work.

So you can see why recognising your team is so important. Translate that to the ‘real world’ and you’ve got a heck of a lot more positive impact coming back into the world each year through the drive, encouragement and motivation that recognition has given to the deserving recipients.

It’s not about doing something just to get recognised, it’s about being altruistic and using what you can to make a change and have an impact.

No matter what you think about Boris or the monarchy, these awards are not about them, or for them. They are for exceptional individuals making an impact.

So let’s make sure the people we know, love, live with, and work with, are celebrated and justly rewarded for their dedication to making life better in some way. Listen to my recent podcast to find out how to nominate someone for an honour next year. It’s free, it’s accessible, and it’s one of the best ways to say thank you and give something back today.

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2019 New Year’s Honours List

2019 New Year’s Honours List

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

The one important lesson you can learn from award-winning entrepreneurs

The one important lesson you can learn from award-winning entrepreneurs

The one important lesson you can learn from award-winning entrepreneurs

Industry Insights

By Donna O’Toole

Just a year ago, entrepreneurs across the world were planning for another year of business without too many dramas. I know, because I was one of them.

Boy were we wrong!

Before we could even think about getting down to business, everything changed and we had to figure out how to survive the pain and devastation of natural disasters, mass protests, a global pandemic, oh and #Megxit. It was set to be ‘the worst year ever’.

Fast forward to December 2020, and the stories of survival that have come out of this year are proving that nothing is impossible.

Never before (in our lifetime) have we seen such generosity, mutual support and collaboration between entrepreneurs, business leaders and brands. For example:

  • Burger King have been bigging-up McDonald’s, Greggs, Pizza Hut, and many more fast food outlets in a bid to support the jobs of fellow hospitality industry employees.
  • Co-op showed their industry solidarity with Sainsbury’s to make a stand against racism.
  • Rivals Rolls-Royce, McLaren, Ford and a plethora of otherwise competing brands came together in a collaboration to deliver essential ventilators to the NHS.

In the awards industry, where live events had to quickly pivot to online, we’ve supported each other with partnerships, advice, and ideas too.

But one huge group that has delivered some incredible lessons in business this year is the entrepreneur community.

From small start-ups who were in their infancy when the pandemic struck, to the fast-growing, entrepreneur-led disruptors and changemakers, this bunch of ‘rebels and misfits’ have pivoted, pitched, and proven themselves a success throughout a year that no one could have predicted.

And whilst I’ve had the real honour (and huge challenge) of judging and selecting winners amongst the most emotional ‘Covid Heroes’ awards nominations you can imagine, I have seen one common quality that stands out about award-winners this year above all else…

Altruism. That is, ‘Acting out of the concern for the welfare of others at the cost or risk to oneself’. Otherwise known as genuine kindness, generosity, and gratitude.

Not only have entrepreneurs’ commitment to others been instinctive and real, it has also proven the theory that helping others is as good for us, as it is for them.

As Mentalhealth.org says, ‘Kindness improves mental health, reduces stress and boosts self-esteem’. So it’s no surprise that these entrepreneurs and their teams have been amongst the most motivated I’ve met, and also the most able to put in a powerful performance in their business despite facing their own battles.

Altruism in Action

Here are a few examples of the altruism in action I’ve seen this year. Let these entrepreneurs inspire you to dig deep into your values, challenge and motivate your team, and drive you forward with greater impact than ever. *Spoiler alert*… It’s not about the money.

  1. Pivot For Purpose: Led by the inspirational James Watt, Brewdog have won so many awards they’ve now launched their own — Beer Geeks. This is a great example of an entrepreneurial business that acts fast and inspires others to do the same. In April 2020, with the nation still in shock, Brewdog took a good look at what tools they already had in place and pivoted from creating a product that everyone wanted — beer — to a product that everyone needed — hand sanitiser. As a result, they’ve supplied over 50,000 units to charities and the NHS; some even in little beer bottles. And the beer’s still brewing too.
    Brewdog Punk Sanitiser supporting the NHS

    Brewdog Punk Sanitiser supporting the NHS | Brewdog

  2. Give Back With Gratitude: Founded in early 2020 by multi-award-winning young entrepreneur, Haroon Danis, Skin HQ was rapidly expanding and becoming known as the UK’s leading skin clinic. But when the pandemic hit, they were one of the first to have to shut up shop and wait until it was safe to open again. It was then that Haroon saw all the NHS workers on the news whose skin was being damaged by wearing PPE for hours on end. He immediately launched Skin Heroes, donating free facials to key workers to book in for some much needed R+R as soon as he reopened. To date, he has given away over £1.5m of skin treatments and he has no plans to stop. Haroon says “It was the best way I could think of to say thank you.” The smile this brings to every NHS worker’s face has made this a driving force for team morale too, supporting the brand to continue to thrive.
  3. Share Your Experience: In 2012, professional footballer Marvin Sordell was living the dream and playing alongside the likes of Ryan Giggs. But on the inside he was struggling with his mental health more than anyone knew. After suffering racial abuse and severe depression he left the sport he loved, and after a period of recovery he found his passion and purpose in storytelling. Marvin is now the co-founder of Oneighty Productions, which has produced a range of award-winning short films. He is also an ambassador for CALM, featured in the BBC documentary ‘Football, Prince William and our Mental Health’, and launched Transition FC, a platform to help former footballers navigate changing careers. Marvin is an inspirational example of how to use your own experiences to make a positive change in the world. Listen to our exclusive podcast.
  4. Create A Community: Led by Michelle Pugh-Parry de Klerk, The Women’s Chapter is a community that was set up to support women-led brands to thrive, giving female founders a place to connect and support each other. During the pandemic, Michelle and many of the award-winning brands in her community used their existing contacts and skills to support each other’s businesses, like Nancy Zeffman and Eileen Willettools the co-founders of Cucumber Clothing, who collaborated with UpWrap, founded by Amber Testino, to create and donate vital face masks to the most at-risk communities.
  5. Stay True to Yourself: Back in 2014, Joe Wicks became an award-winner as The Body Coach, leading a thriving business that was getting people fit and healthy through a combination of HIIT exercise and healthy eating plans. This wasn’t just a job, this was Joe’s true passion, and it still is. Five years later, only two things have changed about Joe; his huge following, and his name — which is now Joe Wicks MBE. During the pandemic he used his passion to get the nation off their sofas and jump around their lounges in the hope of one day seeing that elusive six-pack — or slightly more realistically, to lift the nation’s spirits, wear out the kids, and give us all some much-needed exercise while we were stuck in lockdown. He ended the year with a 24-hour live workout, raising over £1.5m for Children in Need.
    Joe Wicks completes 24 hour PE challenge for BBC Children in Need / Joe Wicks/Instagram

    Joe Wicks completes 24 hour PE challenge for BBC Children in Need / Joe Wicks/Instagram

These examples are just the tip of the iceberg. So many entrepreneurs are using what they already have to change the world for the better. And you can too.

YOU ALREADY HAVE THE TOOLS. IT’S WHAT YOU DO WITH THEM THAT COUNTS.

So congratulations to all you entrepreneurs for surfing the waves of panic and confusion and coming out fitter, stronger, and with your customers and colleagues in your arms.

As Steve Jobs, one of the world’s most inspirational entrepreneurs, said himself:

“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Start now. Start small. What one thing can you do today to help someone else, change the world, and drive your business out of the pandemic stronger than ever?

And if you want to stand out as an award-winning entrepreneur or business leader, take a look at just a few of the awards that you could be winning in 2021 here.

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2019 New Year’s Honours List

2019 New Year’s Honours List

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