Tag Archives: awards

Highland Business Women’s Club 2016 Awards, and how we can all be “shining stars”

Shining Star winner 2016 Laura Bruce of Bruce Public Relations, with Highland Business Women’s Club President Isla Cruden

On Friday night at the Highland Business Women’s Club 2016 Awards, I was named winner of the inaugural Shining Star award for Most Inspiring Woman in Business. It was a real honour, and not for the reasons you might expect.

Created by the Club this year, the reason this award means so much to me is because it recognises the kind of businesswoman that typified the finalists in this category, and one that that I would encourage every woman to be: someone who is not simply good in business, but who makes a point of helping others to succeed as well.

I believe we have an obligation to help others, not just in business, but in the communities in which we live. What good is it to be successful, if your success does not help light a path, and pave the way for others to follow?

With organisations like the public speaking club Toastmasters, I have been very gratified, watching as new members I have encouraged to get involved develop their skills, and start to feel more comfortable speaking to groups. With the Highland Business Women’s Club I have encouraged dozens of women to join the Club and hosted nearly as many at meetings. Several of them took my advice, and among the finalists and winners on Friday night were at least a dozen members I encouraged to join. How gratifying!

Finalists in the Highland Business Women's Club 2016 awards -- photo by Alison White Photography

Finalists in the Highland Business Women’s Club 2016 awards — photo by Alison White Photography

I would encourage anyone who is settled into their business, and competent at what they do, to start to look outside. Find ways to have an impact beyond your own business, to have an impact beyond your own bottom line. If you are lucky, like me you will see women who had been hanging back, start to get into the thick of things. You will see people make connections with each other that didn’t exist before you introduced them. But most of all, you will feel a warm glow that you don’t get just from making your clients happy. You will get the satisfaction of knowing that you have made an impact on someone and something completely apart from your commercial activities. Isn’t that what life’s all about?

We can all be “Shining Stars”. So give it a shot. The life you transform may be your own.

Why awards pay great dividends (even if you don’t win)

Most organisation have no idea of the potential benefits of awards.

Most organisation have no idea of the potential benefits of awards.

Are you thinking of nominating your company for an award, but wondering if the time and effort required will be worth it? Are you a rising star in your industry, but still small potatoes compared to your competitors?

It may be worth spending the time and effort to enter the awards, for reasons you may not anticipate. Here are three compelling reasons to get an entry in, plus one benefit you probably never anticipated.

  1. Profile: Winning an industry award is a great way to get on the radar of potential investors, employees and key influencers. It’s like a big, flashing neon sign has been lit over your company and it can really help to open doors. Having won the award, your organisation has new credentials. Put them everywhere – on your website, social media pages, business cards and all over your marketing materials. People like to work with award-winning companies. Be one.
  2. Publicity: Most awards programmes have an element of publicity attached, which can be particularly beneficial for smaller organisations that don’t yet have much profile. Take advantage of the potential for this by entering awards where you have at least a decent chance of being shortlisted. Most awards schemes publish a list of nominees, so even if you don’t win, being shortlisted will give you some worthwhile exposure.
  3. Focus: The time and effort it takes to create a well-written and well thought-out application for an award benefits you as a business leader. It focuses your mind on where your company has come from, where you are, and what makes you unique. The best awards programmes also ask you where you are headed. If this is something you haven’t thought about recently, completing the entry form can be a timely reminder.

And the unexpected benefit of putting together an entry: Team-building.

One of the biggest rewards – surprisingly – has nothing to do with winning. It’s the potential the process holds, to bond your team members. The key here is to get everyone involved in the nomination process. Make it a truly organisation-wide effort. Let your staff know that you are planning a nomination and that you would like their input. This is the time to ask your team what they think makes your organisation unique. It may be things you never considered – from how you fill orders, to the way you reward employees. There is gold dust out there – you simply need to ask and you will receive.

The best results will come out of a culture where employees already feel a part of your business and feel their contribution is valued. But even if that’s not the case, the awards process opens the door to getting that culture of communication in place.

Good luck!

If you think you could use some assistance articulating what makes your organisation award-worthy, find a talented communications team to work with. If you need some advice on how to select someone, please get in touch.

This article by Laura Bruce of Bruce Public Relations was published in the June 2015 edition of Executive Magazine.

Awards: how to reap more than you sow

Are you thinking of entering the 2015 Highlands and Islands Food and Drink Awards? The deadline is Friday 8th May.

The deadline for 2015 applications is 8th May.

The deadline for 2015 applications is 8th May.

Understandably, applying for an award like this takes time, and consideration. However, what you may not realise is that it also offers tremendous opportunities — some of which you probably hadn’t considered.

Accountants Johnston Carmichael are a sponsor of the awards, and this week hosted an information session for #HIFDA2015. In addition to some practical information about the nomination process from host Jillian Sharp, a previous winner was on hand to speak about the impact it has had on her business. What she said was surprising.

FAO27 won the 2014 Food and Drink Business Growth Award. Anne Moseley, from FAO27, described how her company “got far more than expected”. What was unique about Anne was the degree to which she involved her team in the nomination. She prepared the application with a great deal of input from her team. “There was a lot of consultation,” she said. And the impact of that? “The team boost was phenomenal.”

After the nomination was completed, and FAO27 won, there was another surprise: the response from customers. “It was a tremendous win for us, and we got a tremendous reception from our customers.” Winning an award like this gives an organisation a great deal of external validation, well beyond the publicity it generates.

She advised companies thinking of applying to identify where you excel, and to think precisely of how you excel, and why? “You must work from the general, to narrow it down to what makes you different from your competitors,” she advised. “Modesty goes out the window!” she said.

Find your unique selling point, she said. She noted that it has helped FAO27 as a business, in that the HIFDA application process generates what is in essence, a “mini business plan”. “It’s handy when you go to the bank, and elsewhere,” she concluded.

The work you do preparing a solid nomination will stand your business in good stead quite apart from the awards process. The written materials can be used as a case study, as a mini business plan, and also on your website, in advertising, and across your marketing materials.

If you win an award, the publicity will directly benefit your company. However, even if you don’t win, you have done some quality thinking about your business and gotten it down on paper. Further, you have involved your team in the nomination process. It’s a win-win, whatever way you cut it.

If preparing your nomination is about as appealing as preparing your tax return, don’t despair. Bruce PR can take you through the steps, and together we can craft a nomination that you will be proud of. Click here to contact us.

For full details of the Highlands and Islands Food and Drink Awards, please visit the Awards website: www.hifoodanddrinkawards.com. Remember, the closing date is Friday, 8th May 2015. @hifooddrink #HIFDA2015

PR for Professional Services: why it’s different marketing the services of solicitors, accountants, architects and engineers

I would never have discovered this Argentinian Tango-Reggae band, if they hadn't been performing on the streets of Buenos Aires

No doubt they would have preferred to stay at home, but then I would never have discovered this Argentinian Tango-Reggae band, Jamaicadeiros, performing on the streets of Buenos Aires — and bought both their CDs!

On Wednesday I attended a networking event organised by the Inverness Chamber of Commerce. This was the second networking lunch I have attended, and I must say, I really enjoy these functions.

The format is simple — a hotel meeting room with several round tables set for lunch. Choose your table and then, after a welcome and introduction by the host — in this instance, Chamber of Commerce Chief Executive Stuart Nicol — the formal networking begins. Each person at the table takes a few minutes to introduce themselves and to say a bit about their business. During this time, the first course is served, and then, after the introductions, people chat informally.

Someone in legal services asked me about PR, and said he had just started advertising on radio. I was intrigued to learn that he is using advertising, because many professional services firms prefer not to. Traditionally, firms of solicitors, engineers, architects and accountants have shied away from promoting themselves directly. It has been seen to be a bit brash, and frankly, not their kind of thing. But as competition heats up, and your client base diminishes through attrition, promoting your professional services firm may become a more pressing issue.

While advertising is the obvious choice when people think about getting their company name out there, it’s not the only way to achieve this objective. There are many ways to help raise your company’s profile without taking out an ad in the local paper, or committing to a month of 30-second spots on the radio. One of the most simple and straightforward ways to raise awareness of your business, is to go out and meet people at local business events. You may say, “But I’m an engineer, it’s not my job to network!” and of course, you would be wrong. If it’s not your job, then whose is it?

No one cares more about the survival of your business than you do. Unless you have a monopoly on the service you provide, you should probably consider doing at least one or two things to raise your company’s profile.

Three simple — and crucially, low-key —  things you can do are:

  1. Stay in touch with former clients, using a corporate newsletter to share information about developments in your field — changes in legislation, for example. While you’re at it, you can also use your in-house publication to tell clients past and present about new recruits to your firm, new services you provide, recent contracts you have won, and seasonal information such as filing deadlines or an FAQ about stamp duty. A newsletter can be a very cost-effective way to stay in touch. If you don’t have the expertise in-house, a public relations firm can easily produce this for you. Like media releases, corporate newsletters are our stock-in-trade.
  2. If your industry has an awards scheme, consider how you can take advantage of this. Whilst it takes time to put together a nomination, winning an industry award is a great way to promote your business, and give you an excuse to get in touch with your local media. I can’t recommend it enough.
  3. Attend local business events, and make an effort to speak to people you don’t know. I am a big fan of networking, and you can read my previous blog posts about it here. As a self-admitted “people-person”, I have no fears of speaking to strangers at these events. However, I am in the minority it seems. To get over your reluctance to speak to people you don’t know, try to keep in mind this wonderful saying from Canada: “There are no strangers, only friends we haven’t met yet.”

As you can see, none of the suggestions above requires you to be “too forward”. However each of the tactics I listed will help you to raise your company’s profile with key audiences.

As usual, if you have any questions, feel free to drop me a line using our contact form here, or via Twitter @Bruce_PR.