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Awards competitions for planning professionals

Awards competitions for planning professionals

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  • Design competitions to win commissions for new work is something else altogether. Who here as ever entered a project in an awards competition? What was your experience? If you have never entered a project for an award tell us why not?
  • Winning an award can translate directly into increased sales and an expanded customer base. For business owners with employees, studies have shown that getting recognition for your work is the number two reason that people give for being satisfied in their current jobs, just behind monetary compensation. In most design professions if you wanted to be considered a major player you need to have won some awards. When you win an award you become a member of an elite group representing the top 10% in your industry. At the awards banquet and through other promotion opportunities you will be put in contact with the people who are also in that top 10% group, as well as other industry leaders, manufacturers, and allied professionals who may just be looking for a business partner in your market or for someone just like you with your experience and know-how. You will be perceived as an expert, and may be approached to share your expertise as a speaker at an industry event, or you may be approached by a writer who is doing a paper or an article and needs a quote from an expert, or be the subject for a case study. Your work will be held in esteem as representing the best your industry has to offer. The values you represent, your design, your use of materials, the contractors you hire and the obstacles you overcome will influence the next generation of practitioners to follow. Your ego is not the primary reason to compete for a recognition award.
  • Compare it to the cost of sponsoring seminars and events, which, although it may succeed in reaching the target audience, the visibility is realized in a short span of time, then ends as soon as the event closes. Compare it to the price of other advertising. The cost of display ads in trade journals can be in the thousands of dollars for full color ½ page ad in a single issue. The cost of participating in an awards competition may not be much more, and can have staying power that remains for a year or more. Awards program and winners will be heavily promoted in numerous media and marketing campaigns The event is marketed to dozens of other professional organizations and associations, manufacturers and distributors, public and trade media affiliates, and newswire services. A suitable annual budget is in place to hire a professional ad agency, or they have an in-house marketing department . The sponsor has a track record of how to best to market an awards program.
  • Don’t think “If you win it they will come”. You have to tell people about your successes. It may not be fresh to you, but it will be fresh to the sponsor and the judges.
  • Each program has multiple categories and the criteria may even vary from category to category. Find the one that fits your project.


  • 1. writely yours. awards + communications Presenter: Denice Shuty www.writelyyours.com 630.338.6535
  • 2. Awards Programs Design Competitions vs. Recognition for Completed Works
  • 3. Why participate in awards competitions?
    • Marketing opportunities
    • Employee recognition
    • Professional status
    • Networking opportunities
    • Impacting industry standards and trends
  • 4. Who sponsors awards programs?
    • Trade magazines, both print and online versions
    • Popular periodicals
    • Professional and trade organizations at regional, national, and international levels
    • Public and private foundations
    • Federal, state, county and city government agencies
    • Product manufacturers
  • 5. Awards For Planning Professionals
    • American Institute of Architects -Illinois Honor Awards
      • Better Illinois Communities by Design Awards
    • American Association of Retired Persons & National Association of Home Builders
      • Livable Communities Awards
    • National Association of Home Builders
      • Green Building Awards
    • Urban Land Institute
      • Awards for Excellence: The Americas
    • International Downtown Association
      • Downtown Achievement Awards
    • American Planning Association
      • National Planning Excellence Awards
    • American Planning Association-Illinois Chapter
      • Planning In Illinois Awards
    • Community First
      • Design Recognition Awards
  • 6. Awards For Planning Professionals (cont.)
    • American Institute of Architects
      • Housing Awards
    • American Institute of Architects/ Housing and Urban Development
      • Secretary Awards
    • American Institute of Architects/American Library Association
      • Library Building Awards
    • American Institute of Architects
      • National Honors Awards for Regional and Urban Design
    • American Institute of Architects - Chicago Chapter
      • Urban Design Awards
    • American Institute of Architects-SI Chapter
      • Urban Design/Master Planning Awards
    • Environmental Design Research Association/Places/Metropolis Magazine
      • Edra/Places Awards
    • Congress For the New Urbanism
      • Charter Awards
  • 7. Awards For Planning Professionals (cont.)
    • Forest Stewardship Council
      • Designing & Building With FSC Awards
    • National Association of Home Builders
      • Best of 50+ Housing Awards
    • Builder’s Choice
      • Design & Planning Awards
    • National Arbor Day Foundation
      • Building With Trees Awards
    • Precast /Prestressed Concrete Institute
      • Transportation or Bridge Design Awards
    • Brick Industry Association
      • Brick In Architecture Awards
      • Brick In Homebuilding Awards
  • 8. Marketing Value
    • Marketing your company through awards competitions is cost effective.
    • The additional promotion and publicity is free
      • Use copyright-free photography
      • Have a photo and bio prepared
    • The sponsor’s marketing campaigns are well developed and have greater reach in both the public and private sectors
    • The program will provide you with exposure to other professionals and projects on a regional, and sometimes national, or international level
    • The marketing campaign may be ongoing for up to a year or longer
  • 9. Marketing Value (cont.)
    • Create more buzz and stretch your awards-submission investment.
    • Put out a press release
      • It’s the news story from your perspective
      • Identify your targeted recipients
      • Get to know the wire services and news bureaus
        • Register yourself as an expert for future media contact
      • Distribute on a timely basis
    • Repeatedly promote the project
      • Submit the same project concurrently, or over the course of several years in in varying types of awards programs
      • Repackage and submit particular or secondary aspects of the project in smaller programs
      • Set up a blog and post the awards submission, or post to an existing industry/university blog
  • 10. Marketing Value (cont.)
    • Transform the awards experience into a marketing launch-pad.
    • Use the photographs and text in print ads, on your website, in your company newsletter, or in brochures
    • Include the awards-experience in your resume or bio - to market yourself
    • Keep in “constant contact” with colleagues and clients by doing an email blast to tell them about your win
    • Turn the event into an opportunity to honor and celebrate project team members
    • Use your status as an award-winning firm in future recruiting efforts
  • 11. Reasons firms don’t participate in awards programs “ Each year it’s the same people over and over again who win, the fix is in for a certain kind of project or a certain firm.” “ Only the biggest firms, or those with a large support staff have the wherewithal to put together an awards submission.” “ The projects we do aren’t prominent enough or large enough to ever win.” “ It’s too expensive.” “ No one at our company wants to do it.” “ We don’t have the time!”
  • 12. Strategies for competing in awards programs
    • Compete in a program or category you know you can win.
      • Start small with local or regional competitions, or in competitions with moderate requirements.
      • Look for programs outside your immediate industry.
      • Contact the sponsor and find out what categories get the least number of participants, then enter in those categories (if applicable).
      • Participate in awards programs that are just getting started
        • The field of competitors is smaller
        • Judging tends to be lenient in the earlier years to build up the body of participants
        • Judges may have a general background rather than a concentrated area of study and practice
  • 13. Strategies (cont.)
    • Have one person manage the awards submission process start-to-finish
    • Commit a level of effort and a budget to the process right from the start that will assure a supreme-quality entry package
      • Hire a professional photographer/writer
      • Plan a year or more in advance
      • Study past award-winning entries
      • Identify new projects as they come in the door to get put on the “awards-track”
    • Set target dates for completing each phase of the submission process
  • 14. Direct costs of producing an awards-submission package
    • Application fees
      • Member or non-member rate
      • Early-bird or late entry
      • Free
      • Included with membership dues
    • Photography and processing
    • Drawing and drafting services
    • Reproduction and duplication services
    • Postage/delivery
    • Attendance at awards-event
    • Plaque or trophy cost
    • Follow-up promotion