Be a Winner in the Industry Awards Game

These honors are a powerful part of building your personal and corporate brand, writes the NHP Foundation's Thomas Vaccaro.

Thomas Vaccaro

Thomas Vaccaro

The Oscars may have just been presented earlier this month, but for those in the housing industry, awards season is just getting started. Whatever good work your company or organization is doing, now is the time to get that all-important industry recognition. Though the applications seem daunting and the collection of necessary materials time-consuming, winning is more than just an ego boost for you and your team. It’s a solid way to distinguish yourself and burnish your professional reputation.

So, this season, we encourage you to jump in with both feet, but not before you have a plan that includes the following:

Engage a team to help complete the entries. Bribe them with pizza or do whatever you have to, but the best entries are collaborative and most online entry forms allow for collaboration. So get some willing participants to work with you.

Repurpose as much existing writing as you can. Everything from press releases to MOUs to published articles can provide terrific, descriptive language to make your entry pop.

Plan throughout the year. Encourage your teams to think of all communication as fodder for completing an award entry. Every time a team is working on an acquisition or rehab, encourage people to document it all, perhaps saving to a master awards file funds and sources, letters of support from elected officials and community VIPS, RFP responses, etc.

Good photography is a must. Strong images, particularly “before and after,” help illustrate and bring your entry to life.

Set a time and expense budget.  “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well.” Don’t enter if you can’t devote the time, or if things are cobbled together at the last minute. Set up a calendar for each entry with check-in points to keep everyone on track. Entries are often expensive as well, so you may choose to enter one meticulously prepared campaign in a category that makes sense.

Choose categories wisely. Be careful and clear in selecting the right category (or categories) for your entry. Don’t try to fit a square peg in a round hole. Be very mindful of the published criteria for submissions. Judging dozens of written entries can be overwhelming and time-consuming, and sometimes the judges are looking for a reason to eliminate one to simplify the task. The wrong category will also raise a red flag about your thinking and attention to rules.

Look for “Out-of-the-box” Awards If you have the time and the bandwidth, don’t stop at housing industry awards. Got a great video? Look for competitions showcasing video work. Same goes for special events, there are dozens of contests to enter with a successful event. And, if you supported efforts with a PR campaign that garnered impressive results, there are competitions for those as well.

Promote those wins! Once you have been declared a winner, add the accolades to your website, email signature and any other appropriate locations. Don’t forget to spread the word via all social media channels. Industry recognition is an acknowledged feather in an organization’s cap and a terrific building block for creating and strengthening relationships and partnerships.

Thom Vaccaro is senior vice president, the NHP Foundation.

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