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!

Winning Awards, Winning Awards Podcast, Donna O'Toole, Awards Expert, Awards Judge, Neil Skehel, Awards International, UK Customer Experience Awards, Employee Experience Awards, International Business Excellence Awards

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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Awards Open in March 2020

Awards Open in March 2020

Awards Open in March 2020

Awards News

By Donna O’Toole

Welcome to the March edition of our monthly awards roundup!

Every month we highlight a handful of awards open and waiting for your entries. And March is a particularly special month.

On the 8th March, the world celebrates International Women’s Day. And we like to celebrate this day by encouraging you to nominate the incredible businesswomen in your organisation!

Take a look at some of the business awards open now, and click here to view some of the top Women in Business Awards

MARCH AWARDS

Marketing Week Masters

The Marketing Week Masters celebrate and reward the best in marketing. They award the work that combines creativity and innovation with effectiveness – setting new standards for the industry.

Deadline: 3 April 2020

CIPD People Management Awards

The CIPD People Management Awards are one of the most respected annual celebrations of the people profession. Showcasing work that represents the very best of HR, learning and development, organisational developments, you have the opportunity to be recognised in 19 categories.

Early Bird Deadline: 26 March 2020

Deadline: 30 April 2020

CIPS Excellence in Procurement

After 20 years of the CIPS Supply Management Awards, they have rebranded for the new decade. The CIPS Excellence in Procurement Awards will reward and honour the entire procurement and supply chain profession. 

Early Bird Deadline: 26 March 2020

Deadline: 23 April 2020

START WINNING

There are thousands of awards out there, for every industry and business type. So trying to find the right ones for you can be difficult, but that’s where we come in.

Get in touch today to find out how we can help you find the right awards and categories for you.

And take a look at our awards lists here.

 

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read more

Awards Open in February 2020

Awards Open in February 2020

Awards Open in February 2020

Awards News

By Donna O’Toole

February is officially awards season. 

Hollywood stars, directors and musicians from around the world attend some of the most prestigious awards in Music and Film industries; The Oscars, The Baftas, and The BRITs.

But don’t let the celebrities have all the glory!

The following awards are open this February. You can also find more awards to enter here.

FEBRUARY AWARDS

UK Customer Experience Awards

The UK Customer Experience Awards are open on the 14 February 2020.

If you love your customers and keep them at the heart of everything you do, the UKCXAs is the perfect programme to enter.

With over 20 categories available, no matter your business size or industry you can prove to your customers you are doing the very best, and show your employees you recognise their efforts to keep customers happy!

Deadline: 19 June 2020
Finalists Announced: July 2020
Finalist Presentations and Ceremony: 8 October 2020

Take a look at last year’s highlights here.

Lloyds Bank National Business Awards

The Lloyds Bank National Business Awards are open on the 19 February 2020.

As one of the most prestigious business awards programme in the UK, the awards provide a national platform for you to share your success story.

With media partners including Business Matters Magazine, The i, The Scotsman, The Yorkshire Post the awards provide unique PR opportunities for all finalists and winners. Highly valuable PR for free!

We are supporting entrants again this year by partnering with the National Business Awards to host a free webinar on the 27 March 2020.

Deadline: 5 June 2020
Finalists Announced: July 2020
Finalist Presentations: September 2020
Ceremony: 10 November 2020

Growing Business Awards

The Growing Business Awards are now open for 2020 and will deadline on 26 June.

The awards celebrate the strength, vision and resilience of fast-growing companies and the entrepreneurs behind them.

If you have a success story and can show fast growth, this would be a fantastic award for you.

Deadline: 26 June 2020
Finalists Announced: July 2020
Finalist Presentations: 18 September 2020
Ceremony: 25 November 2020

ENTER AWARDS AND WIN

If you want to enter awards and improve your chances of winning, we would love to hear from you.

Contact us today to find out how we could help you win. You can find more information about our services here.

 

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UK Customer Experience Awards Winners 2019

UK Customer Experience Awards Winners 2019

UK Customer Experience Awards Winners 2019

Business Awards

By Donna O’Toole

UK CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE AWARDS WINNERS 2019

We were thrilled to attend and judge at the 2019 UK Customer Experience Awards Finals held at Wembley Stadium. And it was a HUGE event!

The awards were celebrating their 10 year anniversary. Year after year they’ve grown to become one of the biggest CX events in the world.

Inspiring 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

UK Customer Experience Awards - Team of the Year

The awards have a unique format. Finalists present to the judges ‘Dragon’s Den’ style 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 last 30 minutes, with 15 minutes to present and up to 15 minutes Q&A with the judges. The judges want you to succeed, and their questions help to bag some last minute points you may have missed in your presentation and could be the difference between Gold and Silver!

Our CEO, Donna O’Toole was Chair of judges for the Team of the Year category this year. She said,

“There are some incredible customer experience transformations being made across the whole of the UK today. 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 Wembley Stadium is a hub for networking, sharing a coffee and lunch with colleagues, and connecting with sponsors. At this year’s event you could even get your professional headshots for free from Splash Media!

UK CUSTOMER EXPERIENCE AWARDS WINNERS 2019

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Businesswear swapped for black tie attire, finalists, judges, sponsors and guests took to the Three Lions Bar for a celebratory and well-deserved glass of Champagne.

Winners included CPM International, Knight Frank, Aviva, Direct Line Group, Octopus Energy, BT and many more very happy teams!

Silver awards were given to the very close runners up who included SearchFlow, CODE Students, and Green Flag.

And there are even bronze awards for the very best of the rest, including Capita, HiB and Littlefish.

It was also a joyous evening for our team. We achieved a 100% win rate for our clients who we’d supported through both the entry and presentation stages. There is no better feeling than seeing our clients win for their impressive initiatives!

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

WINNING OPPORTUNITIES

The UKCXAs 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 UK Customer Experience Awards will open again on the 14th February 2020. But before they do you could be entering the UK Employee Experience Awards. If you have a fantastic CX you likely have brilliant employees making that happen too – so why not get the recognition you and they deserve and show the world why you are a winner!

Contact us today to find out how we can help you to win gold and get valuable recognition for your brand.

And fingers crossed we will see you at the 2020 awards finals!

 

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First Impression Training: Training to Win

First Impression Training: Training to Win

First Impression Training: Training to Win

Business Awards

By Donna O’Toole

In March 2019 we ran our highly successful, one-of-a-kind How to Win Awards Masterclass (now rebranded to our Awards Accelerator), hosted by Kingston Smith.

Our awards training masterclass was attended by business leaders, communication managers and business professionals from a wide range of industries, all with the same motivation – to win awards for their businesses!

Not even 6 months later and the success stories are coming through!

First Impression Training

August CEO Donna O’Toole and First Impression Training (FIT), Training Director Marie Cross met whilst judging at multiple national awards finals.

FIT specialise in developing the organisations’ frontline customer service and telesales teams, through tailor-made learning and development solutions designed to enhance the customers’ experience.

In December 2018 FIT set out their business plan for 2019 – they wanted to practice what they preach and become industry leaders by entering reputable award programmes suited to their business goals, and their clients as a partnership.

Marie knew exactly what an award-winning entry, business and presentation looked like, but as a publicity agent for her own business, she needed some expert advice and help on how to ‘blow her own trumpet’ and get the well-deserved recognition FIT deserve!

“I booked myself onto what is considered the Awards Training Masterclass, run by the fabulous Donna O’Toole, CEO of August Consultancy, to learn all the tricks & tips for writing an award winning entry and, more importantly, learn how to ‘blow my own trumpet’ in a super-slick and professional way.”

Print materials

How to Win Awards Masterclass

Throughout the day, we covered everything Marie and our other attendees needed to know about awards – from start to finish;

  • How to discover the awards and categories that fit their business goals and how to create an awards strategy
  • How to develop their USP and create a story that scores EXTRA points with the judges
  • How to write a bullet-proof nomination with our unique methods for deconstructing awards criteria
  • How to Improve ALL communications and win awards using our professional writing techniques
  • How to create compelling evidence and support materials using internal and external resources
  • How to assess the impact of their award entries using our tools to evaluate their chances of winning
  • How to create a powerful presentation and impress the judges with a winning awards pitch
  • How to raise their profile and profits with a Press Release and Social Media strategy, to make the most of their award wins!

Success Stories

We are thrilled and proud to hear that since attending our training day Marie has taken our techniques and advice and written some fantastic entries which have been shortlisted and WON in both the UK Customer Experience Awards and UK Business Awards;

FINALISTS for a partnership submission with their client Equiniti, for Best Customer Experience Training of the Year at the UK Customer Experience Awards

BRONZE WINNERS for a partnership submission with their client Equiniti, for Customer-Centric Organisation of the Year at the UK Business Awards

GOLD WINNERS for an independent submission for Professional Services for their culture change programme ‘Journey to Service Excellence’ which they delivered for Equiniti, at the UK Business Awards

First Impression Training, Marie Cross, UK Business Awards, business award winner, business awards, how to win awards, Donna O'Toole, August The Awards Consultancy

“If you’re ever considering entering one of the many National Award Programmes which Donna and her team at August are closely connected with, and you’d like some pucker advice and help in getting you onto that winning podium, then get in touch with Donna and let her help you blow that trumpet of yours!”

Get in touch!

If you’re inspired by Marie’s story and would like to improve your chances of winning awards, get in touch! We will be running more How to Win Awards Masterclass Training days in the future so let us know you’re interested.

We can also deliver bespoke awards training to your whole team in the comfort of your offices – find out more information here.

Or if you want to learn how to win awards right NOW and take the learning journey at your own pace, you can join our online awards training programme today.

 

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