Aro PR and Marketing’s managing director, Billy McKenna looks at how winning an award can be an incredibly powerful means of validating your products and services and showcasing your expertise.
Be it the Golden Globes, BAFTAs or Oscars, the film industry has been abuzz with awards over the past few months. Clearly, winning an award enhances an actor’s reputation and catapults careers. But did you know that there is a plethora of engineering awards out there that, just like the Oscars, can boost a company’s reputation and increase its profile?
No matter the size of your company, winning an industry award can enhance your business’ reputation, with the resulting publicity exposing you to potential new customers. The trouble is, there are lots of awards out there and the application process is often time consuming, especially when you’ve got the day job and focusing on your customers is your number one priority.
Billy McKenna, managing director at Aro PR and Marketing, which helps raise the profile of engineering, composites and scientific companies, agrees.
“Over the years we’ve helped a number of businesses apply for and win a range of awards. From the EEF Future Manufacturing Awards and the Queen’s Award for Enterprise to the JEC Innovation Award and Composites UK Industry Awards – there are so many awards to choose from and it can be a bit overwhelming deciding which ones to go for.
“Plus, there is a certain knack to navigating a successful path through them. So, do your homework. Research industry recognised awards and make sure you apply for ones that suit your business goals. If you’re struggling for ideas, look at awards that your competitors or companies you admire have applied for or what awards your industry magazines cover.”
In it to win it
Of course, one of the biggest incentives for doing awards is for the recognition it can bring to your business.
“Awards massively increase your profile,” explains McKenna. “You get a bite of the PR cherry if you’re shortlisted – and an even bigger bite if you win, thanks to all the coverage in trade magazines, online and in social media.”
Then there’s the boost to your marketing from putting the winner’s logo on your website, brochures, newsletter and other marketing materials.
One company who’ve recently benefitted from an award is Rockwood Composites, specialists in the design and manufacturing of composite components for aerospace and other sectors. The Devon-based company won the Composites UK Innovation in Manufacture Award 2018 for its work with Tokamak Energy. The project involved developing a high voltage, high stress, electrical insulation system using high pressure moulding of prepreg composites.
Doug Johnstone, finance director, of Rockwood Composites, explains: “Winning the Composites UK award was great for business. It’s helped raise our profile in the industry and enhanced our reputation as leaders in our field.”
But even if that top prize evades you, you can still get PR mileage by promoting the fact you were an ‘award finalist’. A case in point is FSL Aerospace - leading suppliers of aerospace fasteners based in Uxbridge.
Managing director, Carly Prickett, narrowly missed out on being crowned UK Private Business Woman of the Year however, her story appeared in several trade magazines and websites and attracted significant attention on social media.
“To be one of just seven nominees shortlisted from 1,100 candidates and make it to the national final is amazing and something I share with my whole team at FSL. The company would not be the success it is today without everyone involved,” she explains.
But the benefits of winning an award don’t just stop with publicity. According to McKenna, awards can also be a great way of celebrating the achievements of an individual employee or raising staff morale.
RPI, the world’s leading specialist developer and manufacturer of precision positioning devices for high accuracy rotary and angular inspection systems, tasted award success when its control engineer, Liam Towills, won Best Young Aerospace Entrant at the 2018 West of England Aerospace Forum (WEAF) Aerospace Ambassador Awards. Adi Blake, fitting shop supervisor, an RPI company man for 25 years, was also shortlisted for Star Employee.
Peter Marchbank, RPI managing director, comments: “The WEAF awards focus on the cream of the South West’s aerospace industry and shine a spotlight on their outstanding achievements. The kudos and profile one gets from winning respected industry awards, not to mention the networking opportunities the awards ceremonies bring, is invaluable.”
For McKenna, being shortlisted, winning or even being nominated for an award can be incredibly motivating for your employees.
“To know that all the effort, investment and hard work they’ve put in over the years’ was worth it is a great staff motivator,” enthuses McKenna. The stats back up this up with a rise in staff engagement in 73% of Queen’s Awards winners.
McKenna also believes having the publicity of being shortlisted or winning an award can be a really useful recruitment tool. Being able to put on a recruitment site that your company is ‘awarding winning’ is always attractive to high quality candidates looking for a job.
A chance to shine
In addition, winning and even being nominated for an award is a fantastic way to stand out against your competitors to demonstrate your excellence and success. A recent survey from the Queen’s Award found that 77% of winners had improved the commercial value of the business.
“Every award application takes time,” says McKenna, “but I’d say the Queen's Award is the big one as it’s so prestigious - so make sure you set aside a dedicated amount of time to do it properly.
“With any award, be organised and start early. Make a note of all deadlines so you know what information you need to submit and when. Tell the ‘story’ of your product in an engaging way to ensure you stand out from the crowd and grab the judge’s attention.
“If you win (or even if you don’t win), make sure to take time to reflect; think about what’s worked and why it’s been successful, or what you could have done better,” McKenna concludes. “And don’t forget to use any feedback to improve future applications.”
So, if you’ve got an innovative product, great sales, fantastic exports or really amazing employees, why not make 2019 the year you apply for an industry award? Not only will it help raise the profile of your business, but it could also land you that next big customer. Best of luck!