open the door to PR possibilities

image of open doorI’ve always admired local entrepreneurs who aspire to, and succeed, in winning local business awards. It’s a great way to promote your professional profile and create a greater awareness with customers and media.

In a recent post, I summarized the PR value of business awards with a few tips on how to generate free publicity. I thought I would list some of the award opportunities that are available locally for Ottawa business.

Make a note of the upcoming application deadlines for the following local business award opportunities and considering adding one or two to your 2012/2013 communications plan.

Celebrated in February, you can find a link to the Ottawa Citizen’s National Capital Regions Top Employers Award here. Any public or private employer with its head office or principal place of business in the National Capital Region may apply for this competition.

The Ottawa Business Journal hosts several major business awards throughout the year.

  • Eight years ago, the OBJ launched the CEO of the Year Award to recognize the quality of executive talent at local companies. The award is meant to underline the world-class business leadership that exists in the nation’s capital.
  • The Employees’ Choice Awards (ECA) program honours organizations within Canada’s National Capital Region that recognize employees as their greatest asset. The deadline is late August.
  • Each year, 40 business leaders under the age of 40 are selected by an independent judging panel assembled by OBJ for the 40 Under Forty Awards. All nominees are judged against a 40-point system – 20 points for business accomplishments, 10 points for expertise in their field and 10 points for community and charitable activities.Deadline for nominations is early April
  • OBJ Ottawa’s Fastest Growing Companies Award identifies the region’s 10 fastest growing private companies. This is a unique opportunity for the region’s rising stars to be recognized for substantial, sustainable and profitable growth. Nominations close each year in early April.

The OCRI Awards are synonymous with business excellence in the Ottawa region, shining a spotlight on the people and innovation that set the standard and serve as role models in our region. The application deadline for various award categories is late November.

In conjunction with OCRI, The Bootstrap Awards began in 2004 when Bruce Firestone, a local serial entrepreneur who co-founded the Ottawa Senators, felt bootstrapping businesspeople deserved more attention and started the awards through his charitable foundation, Exploriem.org. The deadline for submission in late January.

The Better Business Bureau – Torch Awards is designed to promote not only the importance of ethical business practices, but the willingness and efforts made by outstanding businesses to ensure that our marketplace remains fair and honourable. There is no fee or cost to nominate or receive Torch Award recognition and . Accreditation in the BBB is not a requirement. Entries are accepted until late September.

The Ottawa Chamber of Commerce honours Ottawa businesses and professionals with the Ottawa Business Achievement Awards (OBAA) – created to celebrate Ottawa’s history of innovative, ethical and profitable business by recognizing innovation and entrepreneurial spirit that are at the heart of business in Ottawa. Nominations close late October.

The Upper Ottawa Valley Chamber of Commerce hosts Business Awards as do Kanata and Orleans with the People’s Choice Business Awards in October of each year.

The Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) hosts the The Ottawa Philanthropy Awards each year with an award for business in the “Outstanding Small Business Philanthropist” category. Deadline for enter is late May.

There are also industry specific awards that are hosted each year in Ottawa that can provide a business a PR boost such as the Ottawa Restaurant Awards; Ottawa Tourism Awards; Vision Awards for the HR industry; CATAAlliance Innovation Awards; Awards that honour leadership and creativity in the Communications Industry such as the IABC Excel Awards; Canadian Women in Communications; and an award category that is near and dear to my heart – The Business Network of Ottawa, Businesswoman of the Year Awards.  

Award submissions can be cumbersome but the PR value is well worth the investment. I recommend you connect with success. That is, once you’ve done some research and find the one that is right for you and your business, contact past winners and get their perspective. Ask them about their experience, and what they would do differently, if anything. You’ll get the inside scoop and they may be able to give your some frank advice on how to get the most mileage out of the recognition. To help propel your business to new PR hieghts, start thinking about how you can connect the award to a news angle for a larger trend story for reporters.

This list is, by no means, all-encompassing. If you know of a local business award opportunity that is not mentioned here, or you have an experience to share by participating in an award, please share it here.

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