The Trick to Winning Business Awards

The Trick to Winning Business Awards

“It’s not bragging if you can back it up.”  This Muhammad Ali quote is excellent, but for a company, it only goes so far.  For a company it’s better if someone else says you’re good, compared to saying it about yourself.  It means even more when someone says nice things about you when you’re not in the room when it’s said!

Testimonials from existing customers are a fantastic source of third-party credibility to potential new customers but have little effect on current customers, existing staff, or potential new hires.  In comparison, awards provide excellent third-party credibility to all your target audiences.

Here are some tips and tricks to improving your odds of winning more awards.                                                                                                                                       

Open Your Options.

You don’t need to win the Nobel Prize.  There are a lot of award opportunities, from local community groups, media organization-sponsored awards, industry association awards, and internet award-centered companies.  Your gain a lot more credibility among potential customers when listing several lesser-known award logos on your website vs one highly recognized, big-name award logo.   

Answer Every Question in the Nomination Form.

In the early rounds, it’s about points, not prose.  Award judges are counting points to help identify the finalists and winners.  Make sure you get every point. 

When looking at the nomination questions, the judges tell you exactly what they want you to tell them. For example, many awards for individuals ask in the first question that you share the person’s name, title, age, City where they live (and sometimes where they were born), and where they attended school.  A lot of people to save time just cut and paste the person’s bio in this section- but they fail to realize there are five specific questions that need to be answered, and leaving one item out (for example, the age of the person), you automatically lose a point. 

Have an Internal Judge Review Your Work before Submitting it.

Have a co-worker review your planned submission, but have them literally check off each question you answered.  Using the example above one again, have the co-worker check off in the question each requirement (age, City, etc.).  If anything is left unchecked, add it to the final answer before submitting. Again, you’re going for points, not prose.

Examples Matter.

Often in a nomination, they ask for specific examples demonstrating your excellence.  Be descriptive in your answer and try to share a more unique story or result. Adding some color to an example makes it more award-worthy.

For example, saying bought lunch for employees or created a newsletter is nice, but not that interesting. Instead say how the lunch was a potluck or themed where you had people vote on which homemade salsa was the best.  Talk about what sections are in your newsletter, including any “personality sections” like a recipe or that you highlight individual employee milestones like work anniversaries, births, etc.

Improve Your Chances by Meeting the Award Presenter’s Expectations.

Different award presenters have a goal in mind for holding the contest.  A local organization like a Chamber of Commerce may host annual awards to support a yearly event that raises needed funds for the organization. They’re counting on finalists to buy tables for the event, and to encourage others to pay to attend as well.  If your organization grows a reputation for buying tables for awards events, other award organizers may notice.  While it won’t guarantee you a win, if there’s a tie or close vote in choosing the final finalist, it can make a difference to judges and organizers if they know they can count on you to buy a table vs the other potential finalist where they can’t count on the extra dollars.  

Look at the Award Schedules.

Many awards list their full timelines.  This includes early submission deadlines for reduced entry fees to late submission fees.

Many local organizations also include dates for interviews of finalists and the awards event.  Make sure the schedule works for your key participants. Don’t nominate your CEO for a CEO of the Year award if she won’t be available to participate in interviews or will not be able to attend the awards event to accept her prize. Local awards groups expect top leadership participation, and if they think you won’t be participating they’ll disqualify you for someone else that they think cares more about winning.

Spend Your Money Wisely- Part 1.

Some award submissions cost money just to apply.  An example would be the Inc 5000 list. Before submitting, do the math.  That award list is completely based on numbers, based on the percentage of growth over the last three years.  Do the math and see where you’d place on last year’s announced list had you submitted.  Will you still make the list at all? Would you place in the top 500, or be listed lower in the 4000s?  This might influence if you should pay the money to make the list. 

Spend Your Money Wisely- Part 2.

If you do win, will you be buying a statue/plaque to hang in your office? There’s often a cost for that physical award. Factor this cost when deciding if you want to submit your nomination, as the awards are sometimes more expensive than the entry fee. You may also want to look up what the award looks like, as this might factor in if you want to display it.

Being a Finalist Is A Win.

If you’re named a finalist or honorable mention, consider that a win!  As soon as they name the finalists, put out a company press release and promote the award to the public and your employees. Add it to your website, and treat it as a win.  Don’t wait for the reception announcing the top winner to start talking up your success. If you do ultimately win the top award, you get to put out another press release. If you came in third, you don’t need to say anything because you already put out the announcement a few weeks earlier announcing yourself as a finalist.

No-Name Awards Have Benefits too.

There are a lot of online awards companies where their entire business is to run their own awards contests. They have hundreds of categories, and their goal is to give out as many awards as possible because it encourages future nominations (with their entry fees). They sell the statues/awards on the back end so the more awards they give out, the more money they can potentially get.   Some of these “lesser known” awards end up having the most visually interesting statues. While these awards may not be as newsworthy or as attention-grabbing to potential customers who look at your website, it’s still impressive.  Especially when the more visually interesting statues are visible in your office to visitors.

Embrace Not Winning the Top Prize.

Sometimes it’s better not to be the top winner. If you’re the top winner, there is often a 5-year ban on you from applying again for that award.  Alternatively, if you’re a finalist, you can apply again next year.  From a PR perspective, it’s better to be a finalist for a year or two before winning.  Not only do you get to add numerous logos to your website, but you also get to stretch your excellence over a few years instead of a one-time-only announcement.

Reuse What Your Learn.

Keep the answers you create for different award submissions.  Often these narratives work for future submissions too, or at a minimum might provide additional details and ideas for other story opportunities.  Similarly, pull from past press releases or articles from key executives to create your submission answers or to identify interesting examples to include in your application.

In conclusion, rather than bragging or selling yourself, let awards serve as proof that you really are good.  Awards are an excellent way to highlight your company, as well as individual leaders where it doesn’t come across as biased or self-serving. Since it’s often time consuming to submit nominations, the key is being strategic to improve your odds of winning.  

Lessons from Vin Scully, the Greatest Storyteller

Lessons from Vin Scully, the Greatest Storyteller

Written by Tristan Chavez, PR Coordinator, 10 to 1 Public Relations

Public relations is storytelling. Sure, there are technical definitions that capture everything that public relations (PR) is – but at its core, PR is just telling stories about companies and their people. Storytelling is an art. Good storytellers can elicit the imagination of their listeners, inspire others to make a positive change, and can shape the way people interpret the world. There is a powerful influence that good storytellers hold, and no one was more influential in his craft than Vin Scully.

Vin’s Legacy in Baseball

Vin Scully was a long-time sports broadcaster, most known for his 67 years of calling Los Angeles Dodgers baseball games dating back to 1950. Vin had a way of calling games that brought baseball to a different level. Watching the Dodgers wasn’t as simple as just watching a baseball game. When Vin was in the booth, he was in the game and in the moment. It was a shared experience between him and the fans. Not many people get to experience what it’s like to play in Major League Baseball, but Vin had a special talent that brought fans into the game.

Over his long, hall-of-fame career, Vin had a plethora of legendary calls. On plays that would already be engraved into baseball history, Vin could take that moment and make it iconic. His use of metaphors and puns, the way his words would flow, and his ability to tell a story entangled within the game combined with a strategic use of silence that would allow fans to feel the excitement of the crowd made some of the best moments in baseball history.

From the impossible game 1 walk-off in the 1988 World Series to Hank Aaron’s 715th record-breaking homerun to Clayton Kershaw’s no-hitter in 2014, Scully was a master at capturing the moment and translating it into words for fans to enjoy. Now, as a New York Mets fan, I grew especially fond of his “Behind the Bag” call that ended game 6 of the 1986 World Series (a call that would be engraved into the history of a franchise Scully wasn’t even a part of, and is still adored by fans more than 35 years after the call was made).

Vin’s Impact on My Life

I grew up in southern California, in a classic Dodgers, Lakers, and Raiders fan house. Hearing Vin Scully call baseball games was almost part of our daily routine. Without even realizing it, Vin would play a part in what I would aspire to be and make an impact on how I write stories in my career.

I knew early on that I wanted to be a professional communicator. Although, I spent a long time trying to figure out how exactly I would fit into the communications world. Of course, I would eventually find myself in organizational communications and public relations, I did consider broadcasting and journalism in hopes to tell stories the way Vin did. After listening to him call games day after day, I was able to pick up on some things that I hope to use in my professional career.

What Communicators Can Learn from Vin

There is a lesson that public relations professionals (PR Pros), and anyone who writes for that matter, can learn from Vin Scully. In the same way that he spoke in the booth, writers can share experiences, not just stories, with their readers. PR Pros can show empathy in their writing, connecting with their audience rather than just giving them information.

Of course, everyone remembers the iconic calls Scully had in his long career, but it was his ability to take an otherwise boring game on a random day and turn it into something worth watching that made him special. Likewise, PR Pros can take an everyday story and turn it into something exceptional. Consider different angles in your stories and how they might fit in with relevant topics. Be creative and think about how a regular news release might have a fun twist to it.

There will never be another Vin Scully. His impact on baseball and its community will live on forever. His storytelling was unmatched and his way of bringing fans into the game was indescribable.

There may never be another Vin Scully, but the next great storyteller might just come from the lessons he left us.

Honorable Mentions

There are too many iconic Vin Scully calls to include them all in an article. There are plenty of articles that cover Scully’s calls of some of baseball’s greatest plays, although none of them cover some of his best stories told throughout games. Here are some of my favorites.

Truth: I Wasn’t Expecting This.

Truth: I Wasn’t Expecting This.

by Mayra Vasquez Chavez, PR Executive at 10 to 1 PR

Let’s play a quick game of two truths and a lie:

  • I was the first person in my family to go to college
  • I have been in the same room as First Lady of the United States, Dr. Jill Biden
  • I helped secure over 50 local broadcast and print features for one announcement in under 48 hours

Could you guess the lie? I’m sure you’ll get it by the end of your reading.

Since joining 10 to 1 PR just over one year ago, I’ve gotten to support or lead campaigns that make a positive impact on our clients across the country. Seeing the results has always been my favorite part of the job. I knew it was going to be no different when Intel and Maricopa County Community Colleges District partnered together to build a skilled, diverse workforce through their new semiconductor manufacturing Quick Start program at Mesa Community College. Through the accelerated program, students are prepared with important career-ready skills in two weeks.

I felt especially connected to this project because I’ve experienced the benefits of community college firsthand. When I was in first grade, I got to see my older sister walk across the stage and get her diploma. She was the first person in my family to earn a bachelor’s degree because community college made it possible for her to get there. I even sacrificed my summers during high school to take classes at Chandler Gilbert Community College and earn credit through a scholarship program so it would also be possible for me to earn my bachelor’s degree. Community colleges deserve more credit (no pun intended) for their affordability and accessibility.

During our previous meetings it was decided that the press release announcing the program would be ready for distribution in late March. But suddenly late Friday afternoon, we learned the process had to be rushed through because an extremely special guest came into the mix. Here’s a hint: She’s the most famous community college professor and married to the President of the United States of America.

Although I always feel confident in my talent and writing skills, I would be lying if I said I was not absolutely terrified of sharing my draft with Intel and MCCCD which would also be reviewed by the press team at the White House. 

Before the White House sent their formal invitation to media later in the night, I was tasked with calling every station in Arizona and highly recommending that they should set aside a crew for Monday afternoon for an event they would not want to miss… without revealing exactly what or who that was. Saturday was filled with editing the release and getting closer to a final version to be distributed on Monday after the event. I also got to attend a meeting working through the logistics on Sunday. Because of the late weekend notice, I called stations again Sunday morning to ensure they did not miss this incredible opportunity. I also worked closely with other PR teams to assist with media who wanted to RSVP after the deadline or did not receive the information they need to get to attend. 

When the day of the event finally arrived, I was tasked with helping check in media and continue editing the draft. Finally, after numerous versions we had our finished product hours before the distribution was set to happen. Lastly, I got to witness Jill Biden’s empowering speech and hear Intel’s Quick Start program be announced to the world live before finally distributing the release and images moments after.

If you told me a year ago that I would write a press release for one of the biggest companies in the world, I would not believe you. If you told me a year ago that I would be in the same room as the First Lady of the United States promoting her involvement at a media event I helped coordinate, I would also not believe you. But after March 7th, I can now say that both statements are indeed true and the experience was incredible.

And now I have a fun ice breaker at parties!

A Passion for Storytelling: Michelle Bolden of 10 to 1 PR

A Passion for Storytelling: Michelle Bolden of 10 to 1 PR

In this series, we flip the script and put 10 to 1 PR team members in the interview seat. Get to know Michelle Bolden, PR Coordinator at 10 to 1 PR:

Tell us a little about yourself.

I recently graduated from Arizona State University with my BA in Communication. Creative expression is my safe space so naturally I’ve always loved writing and storytelling. Some of my passions are music, health and wellness, and trying new things.

What song would you sing during karaoke?

Emotions by Mariah Carey

What is your favorite way to spend a day off?

I’m a self care enthusiast so I would say doing activities that make me feel happy and recharged like practicing yoga, spending time in nature, reading, and listening to music.

Describe yourself in 5 words.

Bubbly, determined, caring, detail-oriented, imaginative.

If you had a superpower, what would it be and why?

I would like to have the ability to teleport. That way I could skip the traffic to work and go to Paris for my lunch break.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given?

Slow down and savor all the tiny moments because they make up some of the best parts of your life.

Connect with Michelle on LinkedIn or

A Year to Remember

A Year to Remember

When you’re focused on taking small, steady steps forward it’s often easy to forget how far you’ve gone.

With 2021 coming to a close, I started reviewing the past year and I’m completely amazed at all that was accomplished. We’ve grown so much in just the past 12 months. Here are some 2021 highlights:

While our strategy for success may be simple, that doesn’t mean it’s easy. And bluntly, it wasn’t easy! It was really hard! It’s why I’m so very proud of our team, and how we’ve risen to each challenge during this unpredictable year.

I hope that you too take a moment to recognize and reflect on your accomplishments over the past year and that it refreshes and excites you for the year ahead. Watch out, 2022, here we come!

– Josh Weiss, President, 10 to 1 Public Relations

Staff Goals for 2022…

Staff Goals for 2022…

With 2021 coming to a close, members of the 10 to 1 Public Relations team respond to the question, ‘What are some personal and professional goals or wishes for 2022?’

Professionally, I want to take better advantage of the opporutnity I’ve been given to write columns for Entrepreneur Magazine. While I submitted several in 2021, I’d love to get ahead and write even more in 2022. Personally, I’d love to get back into the habit of playing my guitar more regularly. I’ve been playing since I was ten, and while I never have been particularly good- I always enjoy strumming a few cords.

Josh Weiss, President

Professionally I hope to continue to forge great bonds with my coworkers! Personally, I hope to find more time for drawing so that I can improve my skills.

Mackenzie Nintzel, PR Coordinator
Joanne and Smriti in the office

Professional wish: I would like to put more effort into keeping up with the news. So much is changing daily in Arizona’s business landscape that new opportunties can be found every day. Personal wish: I’d like to spend more time outside. We live in a beautiful region that can be enjoyed all year long and I aim to take better advantage of the weather.

Laura Slawny, PR Director

Professionally to attend more career development events and opportunities to learn more about my clients’ industries. Personally my wish is to read for fun!

Rachael Clifford, PR Executive
Eirca, Josh and Mackenzie hold some recent awards earned in 2021

Professionally I want to continue learning and indentifying new, creative story angles. There are so many ways to tell a story and I want to be able to explore all the possibilities for our clients. Personally, I want to continue letting my family and friends know how lucky I am o have them in my life, but also to make more big life changes on my own like finishing paying off my car, move into my own place, and travel more (and also to hang my clothes/put laundry away immediately!).

Mayra Vasquez-Chavez, PR Coordinator

Knitting it All Together: Rachael Clifford of 10 to 1 PR

Knitting it All Together: Rachael Clifford of 10 to 1 PR

In this series, we flip the script and put 10 to 1 PR team members in the interview seat. Get to know Rachael Clifford, PR Executive at 10 to 1 PR:

Tell us a little about yourself.

I’m Rachael, and I’m a PR Executive at 10 to 1 PR. I’m curious and enjoy learning what makes others unique, two qualities I think make me well-suited for a career in PR. I graduated from Northern Arizona University with a degree in Strategic Communications, PR and Advertising. Before I joined 10 to 1, I interned and worked at various nonprofits in many marketing roles, but I always found myself most at home in a PR function. I like the variety of team members, clients, and industries I get to work with at 10 to 1. Every day is a new day!

Rachael (center) with some 10 to 1 PR team members
What is one lesson you’ve learned from your time in PR? 

Doing a SWOT analysis, a quick one or a deep one, will help you better understand a situation and will help you determine the best course of action. You can’t always control a situation, but you do have agency over your response.

What is your favorite way to spend a day off?

Going on a morning hike and then coming home to knit and watch the Great British Baking Show.

What song would you sing during karaoke? 

I think singing any ABBA song would guarantee a good time.

What is the best advice you’ve ever been given? 

Don’t overthink it. I’m the type of person who is all about the details, and I like to think through my next steps always, but sometimes it’s necessary to zoom out and go with my instincts.

If you had a superpower, what would it be and why? 

I would want to be able to speak any language. I’d love to be able to go anywhere in the world and be able to converse with people. Language also encodes a lot about culture, and many barriers would vanish if we took the time to understand where another person is coming from. 

Connect with Rachael on LinkedIn or

Media Maven: Mackenzie Nintzel of 10 to 1 PR

Media Maven: Mackenzie Nintzel of 10 to 1 PR

In this series, we flip the script and put 10 to 1 PR team members in the interview seat. Get to know Mackenzie Nintzel, PR Coordinator at 10 to 1 PR:

Tell us a little about yourself.

Hi there, my name is Mackenzie and as of August of 2021, I have been a PR Coordinator at 10 to 1 Public Relations. I became interested in public relations due to my love for hearing about others’ passions and using my writing abilities to be able to translate them into words through press releases and articles. I graduated summa cum laude from NAU with a degree in Strategic Communications with an emphasis in public relations as well as a minor in Cinema Studies. I have a big love for all media including movies, music, and video games and have always thrown myself neck deep into every interest I’ve ever had which now extends to my career in PR at 10 to 1!

What is your favorite thing about your career in PR?

I love working collaboratively with a team and getting to learn from others every day. The whole team at 10 to 1 has different backgrounds and experiences that I love being able to hear about and learn from as I find my place in the PR industry.

What is your favorite way to spend a day off?

I love to draw and wish I had more time to do it. So, when I do have a day off, I let all the inspiration I have bubbling up inside me from the week manifest by drawing. There is something really special about having a hobby that has such visible results to make my day feel productive.

What is your favorite movie?

My favorite movie is Ex Machina! I love stories that keep me guessing and have a lot of mystery surrounding them and this movie does that type of suspense perfectly.

Who inspires you?

Both of my parents inspire me daily. My dad has worked in the public relations field for my entire life and has been extremely helpful through my journey in college while my mom helps me learn life lessons by sharing her own experiences for me to grow from. They both show me what real kindness and love look like every day and I am forever grateful to them for all that they have done for me as I’ve grown into a young adult.

If you had a superpower, what would it be and why?

Teleportation. I would love to travel more than I’ve gotten the chance to, and I would love to make it even easier by being able to be anywhere I wanted instantaneously.

Connect with Mackenzie on LinkedIn or

Pilates & Publicity: Joanne Sgro-Killworth of 10 to 1 PR

Pilates & Publicity: Joanne Sgro-Killworth of 10 to 1 PR

In this series, we flip the script and put 10 to 1 PR team members in the interview seat. Get to know Joanne Sgro-Killworth, Sr. PR Executive at 10 to 1 PR:

Tell us a little about yourself.

I am Joanne and my passions are Pilates and publicity. I have an amazing family. We are blessed with kids who are great at sports and the arts. I have 20+ fitness certifications and love to sing. I also have a secret love of 80’s hairband rock.

Joanne with her Emmy
What is your most memorable PR experience?

Having a client live on CNBC from the NYSE.

What is your proudest accomplishment?

Winning an Emmy and being on the cover of Women’s World Magazine.

What is something on your bucket list?

To sing with my daughter on stage.

What song would you sing during karaoke?

Dancing Queen

What is your favorite movie?


What is your favorite book?

How to Clean and Care for Practically Anything

What is one way to instantly make your day?

Getting Starbucks

Describe yourself in 5 words.

Dynamic, social, inclusive, diplomatic, understanding

If you had a superpower, what would it be and why?

To teleport so I can see my parents more often.

Connect with Joanne on LinkedIn or

10 to 1 PR is Thankful For…

10 to 1 PR is Thankful For…

To celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday, members of the 10 to 1 Public Relations team respond to the question, ‘What are you thankful for this year?’

I’m grateful for the personal life achievements and collective health of my family, as well as my work family! Even with all the challenges related to the pandemic, we continue to thrive and support each other in our efforts! Oh, and I’m also thankful for coffee.

Josh Weiss, President

I am thankful for my family who have supported me through this past year as I finished up my bachelor’s degree and started my career with 10to1!

Mackenzie Nintzel, PR Coordinator
Mayra, Mackenzie, and Rachael at the 10 to 1 PR office

I am thankful for all the individuals on our wonderful team at 10 to 1 PR who bring positive and creative ideas every day to help one another so we can be our very best for all our clients.

Laura Slawny, PR Director

This year I’m thankful for my good health, joining an amazing PR team, and being able to see my loved ones in person for Thanksgiving.

Michelle Bolden, PR Coordinator

I’m thankful for my family’s/my sister Aimee’s dog named Marla. She keeps me company on my work from home days and she gives me an excuse to go on a walk.

Rachael Clifford, PR Executive
Marla the Dog

I am so thankful for the incredible year I’ve had. I got to travel to new places, landed my dream job, and made special memories with my family and friends.

Mayra Vasquez-Chavez, PR Coordinator

I am thankful for my children and husband, who put a smile on my face everyday. I am also thankful that I was finally able to visit my parents and siblings this year.

Joanne Sgro-Killworth, SR. PR Executive

I moved to Arizona this year and I am very thankful to everyone who supported me and made me feel welcome. I am grateful for a healthy work environment, great team, wonderful clients, and the super nice journalists who make me want to do better professionally, every day. From the best bunch of PR nerds – Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

Smriti Shakargaye, PR Executive

I am thankful for my health, the health of my family and friends, and for my sister’s Thanksgiving mashed potatoes.

Erica Fetherston, PR & Ops Manager