2020: The Year of Virtual Award Ceremonies

2020: The Year of Virtual Award Ceremonies

2020: The Year of Virtual Award Ceremonies

Industry Insights

By Donna O’Toole

Usually at this time of the year we’d be donning our most glamorous black-tie outfits, and attending award ceremonies at some of the most stunning venues. But with all events cancelled we’ve had to adjust to the magical world of virtual ceremonies…

And although virtual ceremonies will never be as good as the real thing, the ones we’ve had the pleasure of attending have been pretty fantastic!

So how are award organisers ensuring attendees will still have great experience in a virtual world?

Online Presentations to the Judges

For some awards, the next step on a finalists journey to the finals is to present to the judges.

In normal times, finalists present to a panel of judges in person to get their story across and put a face to the written entry. But this year, the finalists have had to put their video call expertise to use and present online.

Vitality Health, Vitality, UK Customer Experience Awards 2020, Customer Experience Awards, Awards Finals, Awards Presentations, August Recognition, August The Awards Consultancy, Donna O'Toole

Every year August founder Donna O’Toole judges at some of the top awards and had this to say about her experience judging virtually:

I’ve been so impressed with the quality and standard of all the presentations I have judged this year. Some of the stories coming out this year in the Covid-19 categories have even brought a tear to my eye! Everyone has done so well to adapt to presenting online, and the organisers have done a great job to bring it all together.

Finalist Hampers

Award organisers know we would all rather be in a glitzy ballroom enjoying a glass of fizz, so to help us get excited they have introduced finalist hampers!

At this year’s virtual Lloyds Bank National Business Awards ceremony finalists could receive a luxurious hamper complete with prosecco, pralines and a confetti cannon to celebrate their win.

Just a little something to build the excitement of being a finalist and make the experience special.

NBA finalist hamper, The Lloyds Bank National Business Awards, virtual award ceremonies, August Recognition, Donna O'Toole

A-List Guest Speakers

The promise of hearing from high-profile speakers is always hugely exciting! And with the logistics of having a guest speaker physically attend removed, some awards have gone all out to impress.

At the Great British Entrepreneur Awards Regional Finals the finalists were addressed by the Chancellor of the Exchequer, Rishi Sunak:

The Lloyds Bank National Business Awards notoriously book incredible keynote speakers, and this year they did not disappoint with not 1, but 6 guest speakers. Including Lewis Hamilton MBE, Dame Joanna Lumley, Ruby Wax, Simon McCoy, Steph McGovern, Baroness Karen Brady and Sir Chris Hoy MBE

Lewis Hamilton MBE, The Lloyds Bank National Business Awards, Pivot for Purpose Award, iNews, Virtual Ceremonies

Winners’ Speeches

With hundreds of people to seat, wine, dine and entertain at live events we rarely get to hear from the winners due to strict timings of the evening.

The beauty of virtual ceremonies means attendees get the opportunity to see and hear from the people that win, as and when they win!

Generali Insurance Serbia, South East Europe Customer Experience Awards 2020, Virtual Ceremonies, Awards, international awards, awards international, August The Awards Consultancy, August Recognition, Donna O'Toole

Awards are nothing without people. Seeing happy, smiley faces of the people behind the winning projects celebrate their win is a really great moment. Plus, winners don’t need to worry about stage fright from the comfort of their desks!

And if you screen record or screenshot the moment you win, you can share the good news with your teams, clients, shareholders and customers too.

2021: The Return of the Live Event (hopefully!)

No matter how well award organisers have done to make virtual ceremonies fun and exciting, I’m sure we are all itching to get back to live events once it’s safe to do so.

The events industry has taken a huge hit in 2020 with the majority of suppliers and events teams furloughed and out of work since March. And campaigns such as #WeAreEvents are so important to raise awareness of the struggle of the events industry and to highlight the support they need.

We’ve spoken with many awards organisers this year who have shared their experiences of working in the events industry in 2020 and how they all came to agree that the show must go on.

But for now, we’ll continue supporting the awards and events industry, attending virtual events and encouraging everyone to continue entering awards and get the recognition they deserve and reward their teams in what has been a tumultuous year!

 

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Continuing to support our clients

Continuing to support our clients

Continuing to support our clients

Company Update

By Donna O’Toole

With restrictions still in place across the world and stricter restrictions coming back into effect across Europe, we want to let our contacts and clients know that we are still here for you.

We are still working hard week-in week-out to support our clients to keep their brands strong and employees rewarded. Creating targeted awards strategies, writing winning award entries and crafting awards presentations for virtual awards judging sessions.

We are still sharing our expert insights, news and guidance with our community.

We are still continuing to run our Awards Accelerator course to empower entrepreneurs, business leaders and professionals to develop their own winning strategy and entries.

We are still supporting awards organisers on their 2020/21 programmes to ensure entrants still get the most value out of entering, being shortlisted and winning and we are delighted to see so many recognising business and community heroes during the crisis.

And through our client’s wins we are still supporting and empowering women in Zimbabwe to create a better future – with 80 business training days donated in the last quarter.

Throughout this year (whether in the office or WFH), we’ve been able to support our colleagues and continue providing our services and create positive stories for the teams we work with – allowing them to raise their profile and strengthen their brand in 2020.

Strengthening your brand

We wrote about strengthening your brand during a crisis back in March and the message still stands…

The businesses continuing with their marketing, PR and Awards strategies will be the ones that come out on top.

Award-winning businesses are more profitable, have more engaged employees and stakeholders, and benefit from more valuable PR than their non-award-winning competitors.

Throughout financial recessions, the brands who’ve pulled back on their marketing have found themselves overtaken by the successful brands who were brave enough to keep going.

So to help you through, look at the awards that can be fantastic business-strengtheners. The awards that will raise your profile and boost your business growth despite any crisis.

How to Win Awards in 2020/21

  1. Be Honest – tell the judges you’ve had a tough time, tell them what your specific challenges have been and how you’ve overcome, adapted or created new opportunities.
  2. Focus on the positives – have you continued to provide an outstanding customer and/or employee experience? Awards often look back up to 18 months ago, so if you’ve had good results in that time let the judges know!
  3. Prove your claims – don’t just tell the judges you are diverse, a good employer, provide an outstanding customer service etc. – prove it with evidence!

If you can do all of these whilst meeting the criteria of the category you are entering and in a well-written entry, you will have a really good chance of winning.

We’re here for you

If you need a chat about anything, or need our professional support then get in touch, we’d love to talk to you.

We have a selection of packages and solutions suited to all budgets and tailored to your needs, to ensure you get the guidance you need to win the most valuable business awards.

Find out if you’re ready to win by taking our Business Award Test. In less than 5-minutes, you will know your current strengths when it comes to awards and exactly what you need to do to win.

And head to our blog for our awards tips, latest industry insights and awards news.

 

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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

Who do you trust?

Who do you trust?

Who do you trust?

Industry Insights

By Donna O’Toole

Did you know that TRUST has now become the #2 reason that people buy, beaten to the top of the list only by PRICE.

I get it.

For far too long, our lives have been dominated by fake news, political u-turns, bluffing, blagging and bad behaviour. We’ve heard the good, the bad, and the ugly tell us ‘their truth’ only to get called out for misleading us five minutes later.

This year, people have lost their jobs, their holidays, and their hard-earned money as companies struggled to deliver on their promise and customer experience went out the window.

In the worst cases, responsibility got shifted around, communications became impossible, and small print was activated to protect companies from paying out whilst their customers’ cries for help fell on deaf ears.

Well, enough’s enough. It’s time to go back to basics, it’s time to remember that old adage:

“Actions speak louder than words”

Now more than ever, consumers need to see and feel why they should trust a company with their money, loyalty, and recommendation. And thankfully there are plenty of companies out there who ARE doing the right thing.

And thanks to websites, social media and online review platforms, it doesn’t take long for a consumer to sort the wheat from the chaff when it comes to choosing who to trust to buy from, or who to do business with nowadays.

So what can you do to make sure your next potential customer KNOWS they can trust you?

First and foremost, just do the right thing!

Stick to your word. Act with honesty, compassion and empathy. And look after your employees, because they will only be able to (or want to) look after your customers if you are truly looking after them.

In my recent podcast with Ian Golding, International CX specialist and Chairman of the Customer Experience Awards he explains how you can create an award-winning customer experience if you do this one thing now.

And when it comes to winning awards, I judge hundreds of entries, and direct my team to craft even more every year, and I promise you this: talk is cheap. The companies who can prove that they truly live and breathe their values will always win.

So…

Don’t tell the judges that you are ‘diverse’ – be it!
Don’t tell the judges that you care about your employees’ well-being – show it! (hint: fruit bowls and ping pong tables really don’t prove that point!)
Don’t tell the judges you care about the community/environment/charity – invest in it!

You get the picture.

Be real. Be Fair. Be relatable. Be kind. Be transparent, and you will be trustworthy.

Then SHOW your customers that they can truly trust you by using valuable and visible trust signals on your website and all your marketing materials. Add reviews, up-to-date awards logos, feedback and case studies to make it easy for a potential buyer to see what you are doing well, and you’ll see your business blossom. One of our clients saw his sales rise by 30% within weeks of adding a credible awards logo to his website, because that logo implicitly said ‘You can trust us with your money and your time’ to everyone who saw it!

So if you don’t have recent business awards or don’t know if you’re ready to win, head over to our unique Business Awards Test to find out what you need to do to win today.

Of course trust is also an important factor in entering awards, and in my podcast interviews with the UK’s leading awards organisers you’ll hear me question them, explore their processes and find out exactly how their programmes work, so that you know you can trust them too.

Lastly, thank you for trusting me to bring you honest and open awards advice, it’s been a true pleasure helping to strengthen so many brands to come through 2020 with a renewed sense of pride and achievement.

I can’t wait to see you shine in 2021.

 

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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

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

Putting your brand on a national platform with Sarah Austin, Awards Director at The Lloyds Bank National Business Awards

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!

Winning Awards Podcast, Winning Awards with Sarah Austin Awards Director The Lloyds Bank National Business Awards. Lloyds Bank National Business Awards, Winning awards, winning business awards, business awards, win awards, Donna O'Toole, August, August The Awards Consultancy, August Recognition, Awards Consultancy

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.”

 

Click here to listen and subscribe!

 

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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

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

Transparency and transformation in awards with Neil Skehel, CEO of Awards international & Founder of UK & International Customer Experience Awards, Employee Experience Awards, Digital Experience Awards, & more!

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.”

 

Click here to listen and subscribe!

 

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You might also like

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