Each year, Cooksey Communications identifies dozens of free award and recognition programs that are designed to honor the top projects and individuals within a specific industry or community. These programs, which are usually hosted by professional associations, civic organizations or media outlets, have various entry processes that can be as simple as entering basic information online to something as complex as developing multiple, in-depth essays or collecting recommendation letters.

Regardless of how simple or complex the process may be, entering awards programs is one of the most cost-efficient ways to leverage your public relations outreach efforts. Even if your nomination is not selected, you still win simply by participating.

Below are four reasons to enter awards programs:

Increase Visibility

One of the most obvious reasons to enter an award program is to increase your company’s visibility. Nominating the company, individual employees or specific projects creates greater awareness of your brand and the quality of your work. This is an opportunity for a panel of judges, who may be among your top business prospects, to see the best your company has to offer, even if your nomination is not a finalist.

If your nomination is selected, winners and finalists benefit from a high level of visibility during the award presentation event. Often, there is additional exposure in the form of a press release, digital recognition and, in some cases, profile opportunities in local business publications.

Reinforce Credibility

Being recognized with an award, or even as a finalist, provides your brand with third-party credibility. You are letting someone who may be considered an industry expert talk about the quality of your work or of your team members. This credibility will not only last during the award season, but long into the future. Just as most Academy Award recipients may reference themselves as such for the rest of their lives, companies, projects and individuals may refer to themselves as award-winning for the duration of their careers.

Enhance Employee Morale

Everyone likes to be publicly recognized for exceptional work. Companies may enhance employee morale, increase productivity, spark creativity and improve retention by nominating team members for specific projects and individual recognition.

Most professional associations have annual awards to spotlight outstanding work, exceptional young professionals and the long-term contributions of industry veterans. Local business publications and national trades also tend to host awards to honor young professionals, projects that have a broad impact and individuals who are making a difference within their companies and communities.

Build Client Goodwill

In some instances, a recognition or award program may not be appropriate for your company but could be ideal for one of your clients. You can build a great deal of goodwill among your customers by offering to nominate them for these award opportunities. Even if the clients decline to participate or if the nominations are not selected as winners or finalists, they will remember that you thought of them and may return the favor in the form of increased business volume, strengthened loyalty or business referrals.

A Cooksey Staff Member