Industry Awards, great for your brand but are they news?

Everybody loves to get awards. Being named vendor of the year by a magazine or having a leading analyst house name you the most innovative brand in your marketplace (for example) is an extremely positive experience.

In terms of brand building and being a great internal story that increases morale it does not get much better. And quite naturally, when a company wins an award the first thing it’s leadership team often want to do is tell the world via the media. The question is, does the media care when companies win awards?

Certainly, your existing and future customers care, so making sure you incorporate an award win or endorsement into your marketing and sales process is an obvious tactic.

Over the years I have had many organisations contact me about writing a news release about receiving an industry award and the question I ask is always them is the same: “Is this news?”

The fact is, many awards are created by media outlets as a way for them to build solidarity with their advertising community and valued readership. Unfortunately, that means that other media outlets are not going to report on it. It’s simply not in their interest to raise the profile of a competitor organisation. There are always some exceptions to this and that ultimately depends on the profile of the awards.

Imagine calling up one of your competitors to ask if they would mind running a story on their website about a client you just won. You can imagine the kind of response you would get. It’s pretty much how most media outlets feel when asked to do the same thing by unwary companies.

The news angle that many companies overlook however is how and what they are doing so well that is resulting in them winning awards – not the awards themselves. The award is an interesting proof point and might be useful to illustrate a point in an interview, but it’s more likely the journalist will be interested in knowing about the expertise, business practices and insights you bring to the market.

And remember, just because awards are not usually news for most media outlets there plenty of other things you can do to share your good fortune internally and externally with existing and potential customers.

Here are a few quick tips:

– post a LinkedIn update to your company page and suggest staff ‘like’ the post so it is shared with their networks
– tweet about it through your company Twitter account and encourage retweeting
– post an update to the your company online newsroom
– write a blog post and publish the link on relevant social networks
– use the award branding (if permitted) on your website or in email signatures
– send direct mail to customers and prospects to highlight your accomplishments (and potentially their part in helping you win).

Realising the benefits of professional social networking

Realising the benefits of professional social networkingThere are so many benefits of social networking.  Personally, I love keeping in touch with friends, family and colleagues.  I have recognised that for me it’s a great way to maintain contact with people.  Social networking is also a great way to maintain contact with my professional network to help maintain and build my business reputation by keeping reminders in the market about my areas of expertise.

More than a year ago I began running orientation to social media sessions for B2B companies as I found (and still find) that many businesses don’t understand the benefits of social media or how to use them.

More recently I’ve been engaged by a number of clients to run LinkedIn specific training sessions.  Many businesses now realise that significant benefits can be realised by better harnessing the professional contacts and networks that already exist within the business.

Some of the very simple suggestions I recommend to people when it comes to professional social networking are:
– keep your professional social networking professional – I keep friends on Facebook and my LinkedIn contacts professional only
– provide status updates on LinkedIn that add value to those contacts
o for example – business related blogs (like this one)
o news articles
o industry updates.

A couple of things to keep in mind:
– don’t spam your network by updating too frequently (personally I find that once a week is a good consistency – provided you have that much content)
– personal updates are better suited to more social forums, like my personal favourites Facebook and Twitter.

One area many people seem to overlook on LinkedIn is Groups.  While I find that individuals join a group most don’t understand the benefits from active engagement.  While LinkedIn is great to help you maintain contacts it is also ideal to extend this networking to include people you should know, but don’t yet.

There are lots of business benefits for social networking and while some, such as networking with people can be obvious, some of the less obvious benefits are also significant.  The top three I often hear are:
– attracting (and retaining) staff
– creating an environment for lead generation.

If your business isn’t engaging with social networking, and at the very least, if your sales team isn’t actively using LinkedIn on a daily basis then I encourage you to explore the opportunities.