FCA Regional Award submissions open soon


With regional categories for the Franchise Council of Australia (FCA) Excellence in Franchising Awards set to open in the coming days, it’s time to start thinking about how your franchise measures up.

We’ve discussed in the past what it takes to write a strong award submission and how to leverage an award win. For brands in the franchising sector, there is no better opportunity to highlight individual success stories within your system than by submitting a regional entry for the FCA Excellence in Franchising Awards.

The variety of categories allow you to showcase the role women play in your franchise network, highlight top-performing franchisees across multiple levels (multi-unit, two or more staff or up to one staff member), prove the strength field managers add to your system or shed light on community service franchisees perform.

Success in these awards can boost visibility in the media, increase morale and engagement within your franchise, and increase recognition as a leading franchise within the industry as well as in front of prospective franchisees.

Having developed a number of successful submissions on behalf of our clients over the years, there are a few things we’d like to share about FCA Awards…

1.    It’s not all about turnover – while financial performance is a great indication of success, it’s not the only indication. Improvement in performance and the systems in place that promote growth, business tracking, marketing efficacy and community contribution are equally as important as turnover and profit growth.

 2.    Strong submissions take time – the criteria for each award category is comprehensive and responses take time to develop. A typical submission will take 2-3 weeks to develop including gathering supporting materials, financial figures, proofing, editing and final submission. The process always takes longer than expected, so don’t leave it until it’s too late!

 3.    Gather input from everyone – input may be required by everyone from the franchisee and field support through to marketing team, operations and franchisor. The greater the contribution the better chance you have of unearthing information that adds strength to the submission.

Good luck with your regional submissions this year.

Ignite PR has written successful FCA award submissions for categories including National Franchisee of the Year (Multi-unit), National Field Manager of the Year,  and National Established Franchisor of the Year. For more information about entering the FCA Awards and developing a strong submission, please contact us here.

Maximise award wins in the media

PR tips for award winners

Many of the key business and franchise awards are being announced and if you have been successful the win provides an excellent platform for PR exposure, especially in your local area. A lot of time and perhaps money was no doubt spent on preparing your submission so make sure you get the most out of your award win.  

Business achievements are well worth talking about and an excellent way to engage with your local customer base.

The success of a local business is generally of interest to the media but if you don’t share your news, you can’t enjoy the benefits of PR, so here are a few tips to prepare and maximise the opportunity for media interest in an award win.

Spokesperson and key messages:

Make sure you have nominated a brand spokesperson who is happy to talk to media and has a sound knowledge of the business. Whatever the criteria was for the award be willing to share detail with the media to prove why you deserved the win. Sales and growth figures aren’t always necessary but a % growth figure is always good to prove the financial success of your business, without giving away too much to competitors. Highlight any key initiatives or community programs that you participated in. Basically let the media know the five top reasons you received the award.

Preparation is the key: 

Preparing a release in anticipation of a win is sensible, as media hate old news so be ready to go with a professional release. If there were a lot of categories it is important to make clear your point of difference and have a strong lead. Once you have pitched your story the follow up is just as important, keep on top of your contact or your story might get lost in the hundreds of emails journalists receive each day. 


Low resolution, dated branding, closed eyes or wardrobe malfunctions are all common photo mistakes. Having a great photo is just as important as the story itself. Make sure you have a nice professional shot of the award acceptance or try a great shot in front of your store with clear branding.

Social Media:

Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn are perfect ways to talk to both consumers and industry peers about your success. Always include a #tags with Twitter or Instagram (e.g. #ignitepr #businessawards etc…) or the best way to get your post noticed on Facebook is an excellent photo.

Give the win life:

Apart from PR you can spread the word about your win by marketing it through a range of other mediums. Many awards come with a special logo that you can use so maximise it as much as possible. For example: put a news item about the win on your website homepage; include details in your email signature and on collateral i.e. brochures, letterhead etc; put a poster or sticker of the win in your shopfront; include details about it in a customer newsletter or letter to clients.

You’ve got to be in it to win in it and talking to a PR agency about the process can alleviate a lot of the stress in preparing a submission and harnessing the right coverage afterwards. Entering awards isn’t just about winning but also about being seen amongst the best in your industry, community or category. It also provides a great opportunity for you to review your business and processes and provide you with ideas to improve it.  If you want further advice on how to maximise a recent win or you are thinking about entering any awards Ignite PR can guide you through the process.



Driving award success with PR

Late last year we gave you tips on how to prepare a great award submission. Last week we put together a list of some of the business awards coming up across a number of categories this year including the BRW Fast Franchises List, Telstra Business Awards and Franchise Council of Australia Excellence in Franchising Awards. We also talked about how entering awards can benefit your business but what we’ve only touched on is how to maximise award success and leverage the credibility that comes with it. 

We’ll touch on a few common tactics used and you’ll learn that sometimes it doesn’t matter if you’re first or fifth. What does matter is timing, making sure your tactics are prepared and executed on time so you’re not announcing your success when it’s too late.

Before the winners are announced

“Congratulations”, says the email. “Your company has been shortlisted for the 2012 Amazing Company of the Year Awards”. Some awards will let you know you’re in the running which means it’s time to put your PR hat on.


Prepare your message. Be clear on what to say if you win. Firstly, the General Manager or CEO should be the nominated spokesperson for interviews. Some key information you should have prepared are company initiatives (ie the projects that won you the “green” award, for example), sales and profit growth (it might not always be appropriate to boast your exact figures but % growth still shows your company had a strong year) and the other elements contributing to your company’s success.


Prepare a media release. In the weeks or days leading up to the announcement prepare a media release detailing all the above juicy information about your company. What is it that really differentiated your company in the market that year. This is what you’ll use to send information to journalists and key media contacts and it should be ready to go out as soon as the announcement is made.

Look for relevant features. BRW sends all shortlisted franchises an editorial survey to complete prior to the announcement of its Fast Franchises List. If you get an email like this make sure you reply as your responses are used for feature stories. In fact, get in touch with any publication – print or online – that generally covers the award you’ve entered to ask about what feature stories it may be developing and if your company has experienced the trends or themes they’re writing about let them know.

After the winners are announced

Pitching. Get your media release out to all contacts relevant to your award. Everyone will be doing this so make sure your point of difference is clear. Continue to follow up with your contacts keeping in mind what it is about your company’s success that is most interesting to what they’re writing about.

Credibility of an award. Winning an award highlights you as an industry leader or innovator and has the potential to attract new clients and customers. Let stakeholders know – customers, suppliers etc. All suitable touch points of communication (company website, email signatures & business cards, company letterheads, newsletters, collateral and brochures) should mention your win also. Use the award’s logo and a brief line similar to as follows. ie. 2012 Small Business Awards Winner (logo).

Social Media. Social networking sites are another great way to reach out to your audience (ie. use hash tags likes #telstrabizawards on Twitter or announce your win on your business’s Facebook page) and share any exposure you may receive as a result of your award success.

Not the best but among the best

We encourage our clients to enter awards that are relevant to their respective industries. Often, companies won’t enter awards if they don’t think they’ll win. Our experience has proved it sometimes doesn’t matter if you win, so long as you’re seen among the best.

Two of our clients made the 2011 BRW Fast Franchises List last year. Pool and spa care franchise PoolWerx made the list for the eighth consecutive year while home appliance rental franchise Mr Rental made it for the first time and we achieved positive coverage for both of them for very different reasons. For PoolWerx, it was about what the company was doing to remain at the top for a number of years. For Mr Rental, it was about what strategies over that previous year had lead to its business success and resulting recognition among the top franchises in Australia.

Over the past five years, Ignite PR & Marketing has had success entering its clients  in awards including BRW Fast Franchises List, Telstra Business Awards, BRW Fast Starters, Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year, BRW ANZ Private Business Awards, ActionCOACH My Business Awards, Franchise Council of Australia Excellence in Franchising Awards. If you’d like further advice on entering your company in business awards get in touch with Ignite here.

AWARDS – Generate awareness of your business


You’ve got to be in it to win it

It’s that time of year again; award season. Unfortunately we’re not talking about the red carpet kind where women dress in beautiful gowns and men don tuxedos. We’re talking about the far less glamorous but nevertheless important; business awards.

Entering business awards has the obvious advantage that if you win an award you gain industry recognition and publicity for your business but it’s not all about winning. There’s also the less obvious but significant benefit that award submissions are a great way to review your business and discover what you are doing right and what you could be doing better.

We’ve compiled a list of 2012’s business awards across several different categories. Entries have now closed for some of the awards listed below but this is all the more reason to put them in your calendar as you don’t want to miss out next year. It’s time to get cracking on those award submissions!

The Australian Business Awards

–          Registration currently open, entries open from 6 February, entries close 30 March

Telstra Business Awards

–          Nominations currently open, entries open from 6 February, entries close 2 April

Franchise Council of Australia Excellence in Franchising Awards

–          Regional Categories – entries currently open, entries close 1 March, award submissions due 15 March

–          National Categories – entries open 1 April, entries close 1 June, award submissions due 15 June

BRW Fast Starters

–          Entries currently open, entries close 9 March

Ernst & Young Entrepreneur of the Year

–          Registration currently open, registration closes 16 March

BRW ANZ Private Business Awards

–          Entries currently open, further dates yet to be released

SmartCompany Smart 50 Awards

–          Currently able to register interest, dates yet to be released

ActionCOACH My Business Awards

–          Dates yet to be released

Australian Retailers Association Australian Retail Awards

–          Dates yet to be released

BRW Fast 100

–          Dates yet to be released

Cool Company Awards

–          Dates yet to be released

Anthill Smart 100

–          Dates yet to be released

Anthill 30under30

–          Dates yet to be released

BRW Fast Franchises List

–          Entries closed 8 December 2011

BRW Client Choice Awards

–          Entries closed December 2011 will reopen for 2013 later in the year

BRW Top 500 Private Companies

–          Entries closed July 2011will reopen later in the year for 2013

Writing a great award submission

Last year, our client Mr Rental won the title of ‘Franchisor of the Year’ at the 2010 FCA (Franchise Council of Australia) Excellence in Franchising Awards. The PR potential from winning an award is huge and in light of the FCA awards that happened this week, we thought we’d share some advice on why you should be thinking about entering your company in business awards, and provide tips on how to prepare a good award submission.

Why would my company want to win a business award? What are the benefits?

We always encourage clients to enter business awards because of the opportunity they have to receive great recognition. It gives you fantastic PR and media opportunities both within your respective industry and through broader media channels, which allows you to reach a wider audience. Business awards highlight industry leaders, reveal innovative processes and products and ultimately attract new clients and customers to your business. An award win also boosts company morale and attracts top talent.

Where do I find awards opportunities?

The nature of your business will determine the categories and types of awards you should be entering. Your industry’s governing body is usually a good place to start for industry specific awards. Some major national business awards we encourage our clients to enter each year are BRW Fast Franchises, BRW ANZ Private Business Awards, Premier’s Sustainability Awards (VIC), Westpac New Zealand Franchise Awards and the FCA Excellence in Franchising Awards. Businesses can also find awards at a local level through council websites and the local chamber of commerce.

How to prepare an award-winning award submission

1. Read and understand award criteria. Criteria are a guideline to help you structure your award submission and a standard by which judges compare different entries. It is therefore crucial to understand them. Different sections are usually weighted differently and it is important to understand the areas requiring greater attention. Information seminars are often held to explain the marking criteria and offer tips and advice on completing the award. Understanding the criteria and submission requirements as soon as possible will ensure you have ample time to manage its completion.

2. Prepare brief responses to award questions. Once you are familiar with the criteria, go through the questions and requirements and jot down brief answers ensuring you address key points of the question reflecting your company’s key strengths and points of difference. After this, you should have a good understanding of the layout of your submission and what supporting information will be required.

3. Prepare supporting information. Anything you mention in your submission about company performance should be supported with evidence where possible. Things like sales performance, customer growth, brand awareness etc should all be supported with graphs and figures. This section usually calls upon specialties of other team members (ie operations, marketing) so it is important the award writer gives them enough time to gather such information.

4. Begin writing draft submission. Now that you have good outline of what you will write and supporting information on its way it’s time to start fleshing out the first draft of your award submission. Address each point of the question in limited detail without waffling on or exceeding word limit. Always remember the weight each question or section bears in relation to the overall criteria. Leave all references to supporting information as “Appendix blank” as this is something likely to change before the final version. Make sure the key information is included in the answer and the award reader doesn’t have to refer to an appendix for this.

5. Editing. Make sure the wording used in your submission is consistent, flows nicely and is easy for the reader to understand. Check for word economy and where sentences can be shortened. Ensure word limit isn’t exceeded for each section responses address questions properly. You can now reference any responses requiring supporting information ensuring all graphs, statistics etc are labelled and clear. Again, ensure your company’s strengths and points of difference are still highlighted as sometimes they can be lost in editing. Ensure anyone who has contributed information to the submission is satisfied it has been used accurately. Hand the submission over to a colleague to proof read before sending it to your General Manager or CEO to ensure it is aligned with the company’s overall mission and objectives.

6. Design, formatting and submission. When your submission is ready to be designed to your company’s branding standards, ensure it reflects the award’s formatting requirements. Make sure all graphs and appendices are displayed correctly as sometimes this changes when reformatted. Ensure all required documents like criteria sheet or front page are included. Give the award one final proof before printing, binding and submitting via the correct methods.

Key features of a great submission

1. Eye-catching and easy to read

2. Clear profile of your company and its core offering

3. Clear responses meeting key requirements of questions

4. Clear and appealing graphs and illustrations

5. Great supporting evidence to explain responses

The more time you put into an award submission, the better it will be. Leaving an award until the last minute will mean you’re not giving it its full potential to reflect your organisation. Using each team member to provide information on their function allows the true strengths of your business to be known.

Keep an eye out for upcoming award opportunities as it might just be your time to shine.

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How to write award entries

Entering awards may be the bane of your life – it always takes longer than you think to write the entry so it’s usually a stressful rush at the last minute. So why bother?

Well, it’s very flattering to be nominated or asked to enter an award; if you get shortlisted or win it’s a fantastic boost for the company and the team; you usually get to go to a great party; it can help with new business; enhance your profile in your industry; give you a great opportunity to generate some publicity – both internally and externally; and the logos look great on the letterhead/ email signature/ website homepage.

Here we give our top five tips for writing award entries and some advice on how to go about finding awards to enter. (But rest assured we can do the hard work for you as well if necessary!)

1)      Enter the right award: This might sound a bit obvious, but award entries take a lot of time and effort so it’s important to make sure that the award you’re planning to enter are worth it and that you genuinely think you have a good chance. Have a look and see what and who has won in previous years, if you can get examples of previous entries to work from do that too, but always make sure you put your own stamp on it. The process of actually entering an award can sometimes cause you to have a really close look at your business, your goals and what you’ve already achieved. The process itself can sometimes be beneficial.

2)      Check the format: Another obvious one, but something that can easily be overlooked – do they want it written in the first or third person? Is there a word limit on the responses? Would it be advantageous to have your entry designed by a graphic designer to give it more impact? Do they want attachments? How do those need to be formatted? Does the entry need to be submitted in a specific format? Does it need to be posted or emailed – this could impact the amount of time you have and how you write it up?

3)      Gather evidence: As well as you telling the judges that you’re great, you deserve the award and how could they possibly give it to anyone else, it’s probably a good idea (and most awards require it) to gather evidence to support your answers. Examples of documents, testimonials from colleagues or clients, presentations, press coverage… whatever fits the bill, make sure you use it to strengthen your case as the future award winning company or individual that you are.

4)      Proof-read: You’ve come this far, you’ve decided which award to enter, you’ve agonised over the words, you’ve edited everything to within an inch of its life and now you’re almost ready to enter (well within the deadline of course) so don’t let a ‘smelling pistake’ or stray apostrophe or speech mark get in your way. It may sound small, but some of these judges are hard people to please!

5)      Be prepared: You may be called upon to have a face-to-face interview as part of the awards process, this could turn out to be the interview of your life. Be prepared so you can enjoy it! Think you might enter a particular award next year, start preparing for it now, if there are particular criteria you need to fulfill what can you do between now and then to make sure you’ve got it covered? Always be one step ahead and you’ll find it much easier when it comes round to the entry writing process.

Where can you find out about awards to enter? There are lots of places to look – try your local Chamber of Commerce, local newspaper and council. Also look at industry bodies and associations, for example in the franchising industry the Franchise Council of Australia runs an annual awards scheme – every year we work drafting and editing entries for clients. Quite often industry and business magazines run awards schemes as well. And have a look to see what your competitors have won before and enter those too. Using a search engine such as Google is a great way to find information or register for a website such as AwardSync, which is a free service that lists awards across the country according to sector.

Good luck!

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