With the British Accountancy Awards and Practice Excellence Awards coming up in October, we've been thinking of the ingredients that go into an awards entry. What makes a single entry a winner and how can a business justify the time spent on putting together one that's good enough to submit?
As the go-to PR agency for accountants, award wins offer great opportunities for your online PR strategy. We're here to provide some great PR tips in learning how to write winning award entries and also share some of the benefits of entering (and winning) awards.
Creating an Award Winning Entry
Be Realistic With Your Categories
While this may seem obvious, it's not unsurprising that some businesses might try their luck by entering into awards categories that are fitting or relevant to what they do.
Identify the right category by addressing the criteria of each award in order to ensure that you tick all the boxes that they're asking for. If you do enter your firm into multiple categories, then make sure you're not simply copy and pasting the same information across and instead make sure you're focusing on the right elements.
Keep it Simple
Judges need a clear understanding of what your business does, what it has achieved and why it is working. Explaining in plain English is always best when talking about the who, what, where and why of your business.
So when it comes to keeping it simple, keep these factors in mind:
- Avoid cliches and jargon. Judges will be looking over a myriad of entries, so you can imagine how frustrating it can be for them to read the same content over and over again!
- Be clear and concise with your message.
- To describe the ins and outs of the project, get input from the right people in the entry writing process.
- Give yourself enough time to put your entry together before the deadline and try not to rush the process!
Stand Out From the Crowd
When it comes to writing great content for a blog or an article, it has to be interesting enough to read. So it should be the same for awards entries, too.
This is your chance to stand above your competitors in showcasing what your firm has achieved.
Use Caution With Your Tech Advances
Be wary not to fall into the "tech" trap. More and more accounting firms are beginning to adopt tech such as cloud accounting and digital tax as part of their business processes. The resulting entry may come across as more of a "Hey: me too!" rather than revealing something "special" about your firm.
That said, if you can demonstrate how you use technology in a unique way that advances your firm, it could score you bonus points.
Be Prepared to Meet Obstacles
In almost any awards entry you fill out, judges will ask how you face up to challenges or pain points. Your writing needs to approach this and not skirting around negatives that could reflect poorly on your firm - businesses encounter obstacles every day.
Rather, you need to clearly state the pain point or challenge you were faced with, lay out the approach you took to meet it head on and document what you realised as a result of meeting it head on.
Back it Up and Use Supporting Evidence
The majority of awards entries tend to rely on evidence. If you've mentioned something, make sure you can back it up with some solid evidence. This is a great opportunity to include your team to provide you with the information, facts and numbers that you need.
If you're given the opportunity to strengthen your entry with supporting documents, then by all means, provide as much relevant data as you can. It can never hurt to provide information that will further help your cause. So treat supporting documents as a helpful point of reference with your entry.
The Benefits of Winning an Award
While we know it takes time and resources in putting together a winning (or even a shortlisted) entry, we want to share five big business benefits that entering, shortlisting or winning an award can do for your firm and why you should make time for them:
Sizing Yourself Up
Awards are a great way to see your firm's positioning against competitors in the accounting industry. You'll see who you're up against and give you the heads up on who to look out for in the future.
Creating Buzz for Your Business
The act of entering, shortlisting or winning an award within your industry can have immense PR benefits for your firm. Why? Not only will your online presence be strengthened, you'll also grow your firm's reputation amongst peers and prospective clients alike.
Portraying Your Passion
You'll do away with stigmas of accountancy being "boring". Awards are a great opportunity for highlighting the passion that you, as entrepreneurs, put into your firm and really show off your specialties.
Capitalising on PR
Awards are free public relations for your firm and already offer a great forum for promotion. Take advantage - are you on the shortlist? Tell people about it!
And if you win or are highly commended, utilise award icons on all your collateral; emails, marketing materials, your website and so on. It's likely that your firm's website will also gain some backlinks from high authority sites that will be reporting on your success.
Grow Your Firm
If you're an award winner, you're part of the creme de la creme of accountants. Which in itself is fantastic, but will also help you:
- Land new clients
- Improve your firm's credibility
- Improve your employee morale
- Help your growing firm attract high-quality talent
It's a sign of industry leadership and a boatload of ancillary benefits. From an HR and recruitment standpoint, there is a lot to gain.
Start Planning Your Way to Success
No doubt about it: the time is now. Start researching those accountancy awards well in advance and begin your plan for awards dominations using our advice:
- Pick the correct categories that show off your firm's true strengths
- Keep things simple and get your message across clearly
- Create an interesting entry about your knowledge and expertise
- Prepare to show how you've embraced obstacles
- Always have the evidence to back up your statements
And don't forget to enjoy the process! Even entering your firm for an award and being shortlisted can lead to a great boost for your firm from a PR perspective - and that's a win in our eyes!
By keeping in mind the above tips when putting an entry together, you'll be sure to win gold (or glass... or paper - whatever awards are made of nowadays!)
If you're looking to improve your accountancy firm's online presence, download our free eBook 'How to Use LinkedIn to Grow Your Business' and gain a foothold on the number one social media channel for professional services.