And the Winner Is … Your Awards Program
Take a page out of Hollywood’s script: Promotion is key to a successful awards program.
The Hollywood Foreign Press Association kicked off the 2013 awards season last Sunday with the 70th annual Golden Globe Awards. From the Golden Globes to the Emmys to the Oscars, association professionals can learn a thing or two from the entertainment industry’s awards shows.
“They’ve done an outstanding job at building the hype and keeping people talking about them,” said Louise Ristau, CAE, executive director of the Awards and Recognition Association (ARA) and an account executive for Association Management Company. “I think they do a great job with the presentation and making the most of the program with what they’ve got.”
When building an awards program, the presentation is important, said Ristau. “After deciding what it is exactly that you want to recognize in your industry, you have to make sure that the awards you are presenting are celebrated and that the ceremony is done in a very positive way. That will make it all the more fun for the recipients as well as the people who attend the presentation.”
To build excitement around the awards—much as the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences does with the Oscar nomination show—an organization has to properly promote the program.
“It’s about getting members involved, getting the awards out there, and really highlighting their importance,” said Ristau. “And once you’ve bestowed an award on somebody, it doesn’t end. You’ve got to celebrate those people, whether it’s through a webpage, sending out press releases, or using other industry publications to promote it. You award people one night, but you have to celebrate the awards throughout the year, keep the awareness level up, and get people excited about the possibility of achieving the award themselves.”
The ARA has a unique niche: It gives awards for awards, recognizing people who go above and beyond in the industry. “At our annual conference we have a display board with engraved photos of all of the Hall of Fame inductees,” Ristau said. “That allows us to celebrate them forever.”
An awards program is a great way to build relationships with volunteers and other important figures in an industry or profession, said Ristau.
“We always hear that volunteers are the lifeblood of associations, and recognizing them for what they’ve contributed to the association, it’s meaningful to them,” she said. “And when you’re talking about industry awards, it helps to validate the industry and what the association has done to contribute.”