Entering an awards is serious business, but we have a little tongue-in-cheek Q&A that addresses some of the most frequent questions asked about the Channel Awards
Every year there are a plethora of questions asked about the Channel Awards and even a few barbed comments made along the way.
Below we try and answer some of the more common ones, in a tongue-in-cheek way of course. Please read in the spirit it is intended.
The awards entry process is now open by the way. To enter, click here. Best of luck!
The awards have been going so long - nothing has changed.
That is where you are wrong. Although now in their 26th year, the awards are constantly evolving. The categories are tweaked and changed every year to keep up with the changing demands of the industry. This year we have even brought two of them back due to demand from the industry. But if the categories fail to get enough entries, they will be dropped either this year or the following year. Without support from entries, there is little point running them.
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 often get a live band and DJ, plus entry to an after show party. You can go on until 5/6am if you feel like it. That is almost 12 hours of entertainment right there.
There is very little point entering an awards event without actually intending to be there on the night if you make the shortlist. There is nothing more noticeable than nobody coming up to collect an award on the night.
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 who spends what during the year. They really are as independent as you can get. Ask one of the many judges - most of them were cynics before they joined the judging panel.
The Channel Awards are still 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. Check out all these people having fun at last year's awards on the CRN Facebook page.
Also, 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-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. But please, READ the criteria first.
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 1,000 words long which in the grand scheme of things really isn't that much. 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.
But PLEASE - at the very least, use the space bar and bullet points if you can. The judges will thank you for it!
You are secretly granting people deadline extensions and it is not fair.
No, we are not. The deadline is the deadline, and that is it. In the past, there used to be a deadline extension, which was culled because it WAS unfair on those that had worked hard to hit the deadline.
Of course, if someone is having major technical issues in submitting an entry, then we will work with them to ensure their entry is included - but that is only if they let us know that in advance of the entry deadline.
Rumours spread about this are completely untrue, and only serve to devalue the awards and the amount of hard work that goes into them, both on the side of those writing the entries, and those on the CRN side.
We cannot afford to grant deadline extensions - we are under a strict time limit to announce the shortlist, which means the first-round judges need to get reading the entries very shortly after the deadline is up.
We entered loads of categories and only got shortlisted in one or two. This isn't fair.
Really? Are we in primary school here?
The Oxford Dictionary description of a competition is: "The activity or condition of striving to gain or win something by defeating or establishing superiority over others".
The standard of competition in the Channel Awards means that to get shortlisted once is a pretty major achievement. To get shortlisted more than once is a significant achievement.
But there is no way a company is going to get shortlisted for the sake of it, just because they have entered every category. The only way that would happen is if their entries are all so unique and mind-blowingly wonderful that the competition didn't stand a chance. Every company has its strengths and weaknesses, and no one company is superior to all others in every single aspect of their business. It just isn't possible.
Just face it, the competition submitted better entries than yours in that particular category. Move along. Nothing to see here.
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 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 really 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 sadly not everyone can be a winner on the night.
Celebrate if you are awarded a judges commended - 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? Is your entry easy and fun to read? Have you included facts and figures that demonstrate what your company is doing right? Are your testimonials heartfelt?
Or 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? Be honest and get some other opinions before submitting. If their eyes glaze over, then you could do a better job of telling your story.
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.
Go on. Get an entry written. There is a category out there to suit everyone. You have very little to lose and a lot to potentially gain.