Hopefully these will answer your most pressing questions and concerns about entering, and do bear in mind some of the answers will be a little tongue-in-cheek!
We have been really hard hit by the Covid-19 pandemic over the past year and we don't have anything to say
That cannot be true, you must have people and teams who have gone above and beyond to get jobs done in the past year, or customer success stories that have been a triumph despite the circumstances. Have a good look at your past year and see if you can really and truly say we haven't done anything. We bet you'll find loads of examples of success.
The Awards are always the same, so we won't bother
That is where you are wrong. Although in their 29th year, the awards are constantly evolving and adapting to how the industry is changing.
We have new CSR-related categories this year to allow channel firms to celebrate the goals and achievements attained in multiple areas including diversity, sustainability, charity and wider community work. These are deeply personal awards and will really allow your company personality to shine, while recognising the hard work of individuals and teams within you organisation.
In addition, new judges are constantly being added to the roster - we have some new judges this year for example - and all the categories are reviewed and tweaked 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.
We are still a bit concerned about attending a physical awards event.
We get that some people are still very reluctant to attend events, but life does go on and we can't be prisoners forever. There is too much fun to make up for!
Last year the awards were back in person and it was an amazing, successful event. Everyone was very relieved to be back enjoying themselves, and were required to share their vaccination passports before entering to give everyone peace of mind. The atmosphere was respectful and extremely positive - nobody was forced into a tight space and there was plenty of room to keep your distance if you prefer. This year is going to be one heck of a party! Why would you miss it?
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 29 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.
None of the categories are relevant to me
Really? With over 30 categories, there is nothing that you could identify with? If you operate in the channel either as a reseller, distributor, vendor, hybrid or services provider, there is something there for you. Again, have a read of the criteria and you will probably be surprised. If there really isn't anything relevant - let us know, as we said, the categories are reviewed every year and if there is something missing, we will try and fix it the following year if it makes sense to do so.
I hear the entry process is long and laborious - is it?
It is as laborious as you want to make it. Planning ahead will definitely make the whole experience a lot easier. Don't leave it until the last minute!
Every single category has detailed 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 1,000 words long or a five-minute video, which in the grand scheme of things really isn't that long, in fact many struggle to keep to the word count/time length.
Have some fun with your entry, if you enjoy creating it, the judges will enjoy reading/watching it.
If I enter one of the ‘big five' categories - I don't want to attend a physical judging event
Then perhaps you should enter another category this year that doesn't require this. Judging is 100 per cent back in person this year and we need our big five shortlisters to be present to fight their case. This is one area that we are very strict on as it is unfair to all those who do come along on the day.
The judging day will be taking place at a decent-sized venue with plenty of space, again nobody is forced into tight spaces and there is plenty of room to keep your distance if you require.
CRN is always keeping an eye on any rules/guidelines throughout the year, so you can be rest assured that these will be followed rigorously to keep everybody safe.
If I don't do a fancy video or multi-media entry, I won't win. So why bother?
Absolutely not true!! 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, please, please just put some spacing in your text!!
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.
What is the point of the judges commended?
Yes we know every year there is a joke 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?
Look at your past entries and see if they really paint your company in a good light. Does it introduce any of your teams, are the testimonials glowing? Did you even have a testimonial? Did you include any stats? Is it interesting to read? Does it actually explain why you are relevant to the category and why you deserve to win? There is always room for improvement.
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? Is there just something else that you could include to really make you stand out from the crowd?
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. And everyone involved in the judging process finds those comments pretty insulting. 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 that entry submitted! You know you want to.
The entry deadline is Friday 1 July. Start your entry here. The awards take place on Thursday 10 November at Battersea Evolution. Good luck!