October 19, 2015
This week, the Nobel Prize announcements in various categories are being rolled out, culminating in the Nobel Peace Prize recipient(s) being named this Friday. The esteemed annual awards are given to “researchers, authors and peace advocates who, according to the vision of Alfred Nobel, have conferred the greatest benefit to mankind.”
Many of our own associations offer awards programs to honor members who have contributed to the industry either through service to the organization or through excellence in their own work. Awards programs can come in many shapes and sizes, with varying levels of participation, notability and complexity. If you’re running an existing program, or considering developing one, here are some key issues to keep in mind:
Types of awards
Depending on your industry, you can honor anything from products to people:
- Products and design – for innovations or excellence in manufacturing or design
- Pieces of writing or works of art – for quality and innovation
- Individuals – for overall accomplishments in their career or for contributions to the industry
- Organizations – for forward-thinking members or vendors
- It’s important to follow protocol about who the award decision makers are. The procedure may be spelled out in your bylaws or other policy documents. Make sure that the committee is composed of the correct number and types of members, and that all members are interested in participating for the coming year.
- If your committee accepts nominations, spread the word widely so they have entries to choose from. Determine if self-nominations are accepted, and if nominees have to be nominated by someone else, do you keep the nomination secret from the individual so they can be surprised, or do you need to ask them for follow-up pieces of an application like a headshot and resume?
- There are many methods to collect awards submissions, from paper forms to software programs like OpenWater or custom web forms. If your awards program features samples such as design or products to be judged, make sure you can accommodate the physical samples coming to your office or wherever the judging is taking place.
- Some awards, especially for work completed by organizations, have a fee attached to the application. This may serve to limit the number of submissions that aren’t really appropriate, and it can serve as a revenue stream.
- If you have multiple awards, are you representing a diverse group of winners? Diversity can be age, gender, race, or even sector of industry. Are all of your membership categories represented?
- Having an in-person event to announce and honor your winners is very common. You can hold the ceremony as part of an existing event, or even tack it on to another industry group’s event.
- Consider whether your honorees will be there in person. Some award nominations might require that the nominee commit to attending before they are granted the award. If you’re not announcing the winners until the event, you should determine if the winners will be there in person or not. If there are remarks, you could even Skype in a winner who can’t make it for their acceptance speech.
- It’s easy to overlook the physical award itself, but keep in mind that you want the winner to display the award for years to come. It should be a symbol that makes them proud to show off.
- Develop the press release and ask recipients who you should contact on their behalf, including publications in their hometown and their alumni newsletter. Make sure the release to distributed to any relevant trade publications in your industry.
- If you have many winners, develop a “donut” press release with basic info about the program, and holes they can fill in about their individual award. Encourage them to distribute broadly, and monitor press coverage to see where the news is picked up.
- When posting the announcements on social media, tag the winner and their organizations in social media posts so they can share and retweet.
- If it makes sense for your program, develop a badge or seal that winners can add to their website so show off their accomplishment.
- Airline Passenger Experience’s Passenger Choice Awards
- American Society of Journalists and Authors Annual Writing Awards
- Asphalt Roofing Manufacturers Association’s Quality Asphalt Roofing Case-Study program
- College Media Association’s Pinnacle Awards
- Copper Development Association’s North American Copper in Architecture Awards
- International Interior Design Association NY’s Student Design Awards
- New York Women in Communications Matrix Awards and WiCi Awards