We thought we would share with you some of the many questions we are asked before, during and after the Channel Awards in the hope that it will help settle some minds
Disclaimer: There may be some humour and mild sarcasm
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 23 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.
I hear the entry process is a long and laborious process - is it?
It is as laborious as you want to make it. 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 I don't do a fancy video or multi-media entry, I won't win. So why bother?
That is 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. The only wish for the judges is that the entries are at least easy to read and well laid-out. 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 win.
Isn't the judging process a fix? How are the judges picked?
No it is absolutely not a fix! Speak to the judges and find out for yourself! Or if you think you have what it takes, come and be a judge. 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.
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.
I've entered before and we didn't even get shortlisted - should I bother 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! What can we do differently?
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.
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 would encourage you to speak to all the judges and ask them about the process. 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.