Below are some tongue-in-cheek answers to questions we get asked year-in, year-out. Hopefully the answers will help the undecided make up their minds.
The awards have been going so long - nothing has changed.
That is where you are wrong. Although in their 24th year, the awards are constantly evolving. For instance the whole judging process was revamped and new judges are constantly being added to the roster, and also the categories have been tweaked and changed every year for the past five years to keep up with the changing demands of the industry. The team at CRN are all too aware that standing still is not an option, and the awards need to be fresh and engaging every year. We are also very open to feedback, so if there is something you do/don't like or think should be changed, then just let us know. We won't bite.
It is too expensive to buy a table, so we don't bother entering.
Yes the tables are expensive, but it is a central London venue and it is one of the biggest events in the channel calendar, plus your table is well stocked with goodies to ensure a great night out. In addition you get to see an A-list comedian presenting the awards, and you get a live band and DJ, plus entrance to an after show party. You can go on until 5/6am if you feel like it. Entering the awards means you have committed to buying at least two seats, so at the very worst you will have to stump up for two seats.But rather than viewing it as a negative, why not save some budget to treat your staff to a great night out for all their hard work during the year? Or take some of your customers out and show them a good time. The event reads like a who's who of the channel, you never know who you will be mingling with from one minute to the next.
There are loads of awards in our industry, why should I bother with the CRN Awards?
There are indeed loads of awards in the industry, but how many of them are really independent, picked by a panel of seasoned channel experts from all corners of the industry and judged on actual content of the entry, rather than being swayed by previous reputation or achievements? The awards have been going for 24 years and are the most respected and sought after awards in the UK channel, and judging from feedback given by previous winners, they actually do make a difference to a business in the eyes of customers and partners.
The event has become too big. I won't enjoy it.
We won't say we aren't proud of how big the awards have become. It is a testament to all the hard work put in by every member of the CRN team. But yes, when the awards started in the 90s, they were about a quarter of the size they are now, perhaps even smaller. Now the event is a staple in the channel calendar as people wind down for Christmas and celebrate the end of their year's hard work. If you just look at the faces of the people in the pictures we put on the CRN Facebook page, you will be hard-pressed to find a miserable one. Where else will you be able to catch up with all your contacts in one night?
I hear the entry process is a long and laborious process - is it?
It is as laborious as you want to make it. Planning ahead will definitely make the whole experience a lot easier. Every single category has a 1,000-plus word criteria written specifically for it, packed full of tips and hints as to what makes a winning entry. Short of actually writing the entry for you CRN cannot be more helpful. If you follow the guidelines in the criteria you cannot really go wrong. Those with a true passion for the achievements and innovation shown by their companies will not struggle to share their success with the judges. Entries are 1,200 words long which in the grand scheme of things really isn't that long, in fact many struggle to keep to the word count. If you have all the necessary information to hand, and know exactly what you want to say, the entry shouldn't take more than a few hours at the very most.
If I don't do a fancy video or multi-media entry, I won't win. So why bother?
We encourage multi-media entries to allow those that wish to express themselves differently, but we do not discourage text entries at all. Nobody is penalised for failing to submit a fancy multi-media entry. The only wish from the judges is that the entries are at least easy to read and well laid-out. Please bear them in mind when compiling your entry. Judges have to read through thousands of words of entries and you can imagine how much more difficult and frankly soul-destroying it is when presented with a block of solid text, compared to a nicely spaced word doc, or a PDF with images and graphs. But as with all entries it is the content that matters, if an entry ticks all the boxes in terms of stats, testimonials, personality, actually explaining why it should win the award, then it will stand a very good chance.
Isn't the judging process a fix? How are the judges picked?
Quite a few of the existing judging panel once said the same, but now they are involved, they realise exactly how independent the process is. Please feel free to speak to any one of them, they will back it up for sure.
If you are still not convinced, then, please, apply to be a judge yourself. We welcome new judges every year as some judges are taken away by other commitments. But be warned. It is not an easy job. The judges are all very experienced channel people and are very proud to be part of the judging panel. They were handpicked by head judge Sara Yirrell because they have had the experience in different areas of the channel and know the industry very well. They treat each entry exactly the same and are only looking for quality of entry rather than who is actually entering.
The judges read and score each entry based on the criteria given to everyone entering the awards. They are as committed to keeping the awards independent and unbiased as the CRN team are, and give up their time willingly to make sure the process is fair and thorough.
Come and see them on the night and ask them for yourself.
What is the point of the judges commended?
Yes we know every year that the comedian makes a quip about commended winners being no better than a loser. But that is not the case. In many categories the competition is extremely close and the judges are keen for another company to get some recognition for putting in a very strong entry as well as the winner. The commended is definitely not a sign of failure, you have beaten everyone else that was shortlisted (bar the winner, obviously), and of course those that didn't even make the shortlist. It is an achievement in itself and one of which you should be proud, not embarrassed.
Obviously we all prefer to win if we can, and this industry is fiercely competitive. But celebrate if you are awarded a commended certificate - these are not given out like sweets either.
I've entered before and we didn't even get shortlisted - I can't really be bothered to go through that again.
Well we can't force anyone to enter again, it is a free world after all. But if you give up at the first sign of defeat, what sort of example will that set to your co-workers and competitors? Unfortunately in the real world, not everyone can win, and someone has to come second or third. But persistence always pays off and the following year might be the year your company does something amazing - would you really not want to shout about it and be in with the chance of winning an award?
We've been shortlisted so many times but never manage to win! It is so frustrating!
Don't give up! You are obviously doing something right due to the fact that you are being shortlisted, but stop and think before submitting your entry this year. Read the criteria again. Have you really dealt with the points in that criteria to the best of your ability? Are you really giving the judges the best view of your company's successes? Have you included facts and figures that demonstrate what your company is doing right? Are your testimonials heartfelt? Is your entry just a little bit dry and lacking the passion and personality that could make it a winning entry? Does it appear rushed? Try and see things through the judges eyes, remember that they have read tens of entries, does your entry really stand out that much from the crowd?
The same faces win every year - we are never going to get an award, are we?
The same faces do not win every year. That is absolutely untrue. It is under very exceptional circumstances that the same company will win an award once or twice and if they do, it is because their entry is absolutely fantastic and has blown the competition away. If you think like that before even submitting an entry, it might just reflect in your entry itself.
Why not approach the winning company and see if they will share what they did to win, perhaps give you an idea of where you may be going wrong. Obviously they won't reveal any secrets, but they might give you a vitally important tip that will help you shape your entry next year.
Isn't the whole process a fix? Can't we effectively buy our company an award if we sponsor enough?
No, you can definitely not buy an award. A company can be a headline sponsor of the awards and not come anywhere close to winning. It makes no difference. The judges' decisions are not based on who spends what amount with CRN, although we are aware this does happen in other industry awards (naming no names). It is why we stopped the voting process (where companies actually WERE buying votes) and introduced the two-tier judging panels. Of course there is no way of convincing people that are determined to think that way, but winners are decided on quality of entry ONLY.
We don't stop anyone entering. And if they happen to be sponsors, then fair enough. But their entries are treated no differently to all the others.
We would encourage you to speak to all the judges and ask them about the process. As we said earlier, some of our judges joined the panel because they felt the same way, but their minds have been completely changed now they are actually involved in the process.
And one other thing, we may have judges from vendor, distributor and reseller-land, but none of them will ever judge any entry from their peers - ie a vendor won't judge a vendor, a distributor won't judge a distributor and a reseller won't judge a reseller.