Industry award season – Is the winner always the one that spends the most?

We are in the midst of award season and there is hardly enough time for the dinner jacket to go in to the cleaners before it needs to go back on for the next gala dinner – it is a hard life! One of the most commonly asked questions whenever people get talking about industry awards is “How much?”

          How much does it cost to enter?

          How much is it for a table?

          How much is the celebrity being paid to guest host the ceremony?

          How much do we need to pay to make sure we win?  

Award ceremonies are very expensive to run and those involved in running them are not doing it for the benefit of their health, they need to break even, or dare I say it, make a profit! However, just because there is an entry fee or a cost to attend, it doesn’t mean we should have a cynical view that all awards can be bought.

It is true that there are award programmes out there (which I will not name) that are more credible than others, but I am glad to say that there are far more good initiatives than bad. The problem is that there can be a tendency to tarnish them all with the same brush.

Having been invited to be a judge for some PR industry awards in the past I can vouch for just how much hard work goes in to the judging process. From receiving a zip file brimming with entries, taking the time to review each one, scoring and submitting the results to the other judges and then a lengthy and sometimes heated panel discussion to agree the shortlist, those worthy of commendation and the ultimate winners. Meanwhile, the event organisers burn the midnight oil to put on a show to remember.

Also, as a PR professional I am often at the coalface of putting award entries together and know of the lengths clients, their customers and my team go to, in order to create something worthy of being considered award-winning. It isn’t easy but when the enveloped is opened and the name of the company, person or project is annouced, it all becomes worthwhile. Of course, if you are not top of the list then that is when those cynical suggestions can start being hurled around “They advertise with the magazine”, “They spent more on a table” etc. To be honest I have done it myself in the past.

There probably are too many award programmes and it would be easy to blow the annual marketing budget on tables at ceremonies, however, they are all important. They make us all focus on the positives when it is all too easy to be negative. They make us take a little time to think about all the great things we have done throughout the year, and acknowledge the efforts of others (even that of our competitors, through gritted teeth).

“How much?” is always going to be an important question when deciding whether to embark on an awards programme, and I will always look on with envy at how much celebrities rake in for a nights work. But awards are about more than money and for those entering, judging and hosting the awards it should be about taking pride in a job well done.  

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