Is Winning Awards Worth It?
If you’ve spent any time in the creative field, you’ve probably received quite a few calls for entries. Maybe you’ve even entered a few industry awards competitions. Or maybe you’re still thinking about it.
You might be wondering if taking the considerable amount of time to prepare an entry, in addition to paying what can sometimes be a hefty entry fee, is it feasible. Is it worth the effort?
Everybody Loves a Winner
The first way to look at this question is from the perspective of current and potential clients. More than a few of the current clients will be more than pleased if what you created wins an award. And what about your potential clients? Let’s say they’re seeking a web person for the redesign of their site. Don’t you think they’d be more willing to consider an award-winning designer over someone who’s just a designer? Although creatives sometimes disparage the over-used term “award-winning,” it still carries clout with the public.
Nothing like cultivating the clientele, I say. But be careful. Many clients have caught on to the notion that many competitions are little more than beauty contests. We’ve all heard about those expensive advertising campaigns that win copious awards while failing to increase sales of the product.
Choose the Right Competition
Fortunately, not all competitions are beauty contests. Some, like the Gold and Silver Quill Awards competitions sponsored by the International Association of Business Communicators (IABC), are results-focused. In order to win a Quill, you have to have an attractive communications piece. And you have to demonstrate that it achieves the goals that you and the client set out for it.
In addition to the Gold and Silver Quills, many local IABC chapters sponsor their own resulted-oriented Quill competition. (Here in Tucson, it’s called the Cactus Quill.) Head over to the IABC website to find the chapter nearest you.
Know Your Rights
Okay, so you’ve decided to take the plunge and enter some awards competitions. Before you do, I want to warn you about competition terms and conditions and rights to your work. These terms can be found in the fine print section in the call for entry. Be especially wary of language that says, in essence, that the competition sponsors can take your entry and use it any way they want without paying you. Think twice about whether you want to enter such a competition.
Such rights-grabbing terms and conditions seem to be especially prevalent in the photography world. Creative consultant (and intellectual property law student) Leslie Burns and attorney/photographer Carolyn E. Wright frequently blog on this topic, so be sure to keep up with their posts.
Now what? Are the clients going to start flocking to your door? I hate to break the news to you, but the answer is probably not. Once the applause from the awards ceremony fades away, you’re going to need to promote the fact that you’ve won something. Here are four things to try:
- Send a press release to the media, you friends, family, colleagues, clients, potential clients, newsletters of organizations you belong to, everybody! If you have $200 to spend, use the popular PRWeb SEO-oriented press release distribution service.
- Use the power of social media to get the word out. Post news of your latest award on your Facebook, LinkedIn, or MySpace pages. Twitter it!
- Post news of your award on your website – if you don’t already have a “News” page, start one. And, if you’ve been meaning to start a blog, news releases make great search engine bait for your site.
- I hope you didn’t forget to invite your award-winning client to the ceremony. But, in case your client wasn’t able to attend, why not throw a party? Yes, I know. You work from home and your studio is so small that you couldn’t possibly have the client over. Well, it’s time to emerge from your studio-cave and get a table at your favorite restaurant. Now turn that table into party central! Not only will your client have a good time, you might also attract some potential client attention from other restaurant patrons.
There’s no doubt that entering competitions takes a lot of careful research and hard work. Even when you win, it takes effort to effectively capitalize on it. The prestige, however, can carry your career forward. How do you decide when to enter a competition?