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AWARDS, RECOGNITION, MEDIA, MARKETING: EVERYBODY WINS
Awards and recognition programs are a popular way for companies and media organizations to share positive stories and align themselves with the industry's best. But what is it about these programs that make them a true win for everyone?

From an editorial standpoint, awards and recognition programs provide media organizations with good news to write about, says Richard Jones, Group Editor at Meister Media Worldwide and organizer of the Grower Achievement Awards, reaching an audience of more than 26,000 through American Vegetable Grower magazine. The awards are sponsored by Syngenta Seeds. Stories about top growers are always well-read, says Jones, however if an editor tells the story well, they don't focus only on the winner's many achievements.

"You also share the things they tried that didn't work, despite those missteps," says Jones. "They (readers) can take inspiration from the fact that someone with some of the same challenges they face has overcome them. As an editor, those are the stories that are the most fun to tell."

But telling good stories is just the first step, says Jones. If an editor cares about their readers, they will share the story with peers, neighbors, the winner's community, and those outside of the magazine's regular circulation.

"An award program, and the resulting publicity you're able to spread both inside and outside your readership, shines a light on the good stories that need to be told," says Jones. "If you do it right, you can change opinions and perceptions as well."

HIGH VALUE FOR MARKETERS
Sponsoring companies are looking for the same elements, according to Roger Rohrbough, Program Fulfillment Manager at DuPont Crop Protection, sponsor of the Environmental Respect Awards. Environmental stewardship is one of DuPont's core values and the main reason the company aligned itself with the program, he says. It is a way to tell good stories about improvements and an opportunity to develop lasting relationships.

"The Environmental Respect Awards allow us to take an active role with our key crop protection
customers crop input retailers to highlight and honor their continuing progress and leadership in sustainable agriculture," says Rohrbough. "It also serves as a means to communicate good news about the environmental strides made in the crop protection and fertilizer industry."

The Environmental Respect Awards, sponsored by DuPont for 17 years and conducted by the CropLife Media Group, honors crop input retailers for excellence in environmental safety and stewardship. Over the years, the program has expanded to incorporate an international component, a Web-based entry process, e-newsletter ads, print ads, editorial coverage, direct mail, and an in-person selection and winner's reception an integrated approach that's a benefit for Rohrbough.

"Handling the informational aspects of this program with an integrated approach allows for on-going visibility and availability of the information and application process any time participants need it," says Rohrbough. "The combination of electronic and print media allows for the best fit for all our customers."

Karen Marshall, Director of Cotton Industry Affairs for Monsanto, a sponsor of the Cotton Grower Achievement Award and Beltwide Luncheon, agrees and says that sponsoring the Cotton Grower Achievement Award wasn't a tough decision for Monsanto.

"We're committed to the business of cotton and we always like to showcase and honor the outstanding work of good cotton producers," says Marshall. "The luncheon allows us to do that."

The Cotton Grower Achievement Award, managed by Cotton Grower magazine and sponsored by
Monsanto, is an event that originally began as just the Beltwide Luncheon. The event expanded to add recognition of the Cotton Grower Achievement Award winner and is now supported by both Case IH and Monsanto. The integrated marketing tools used for the event (editorial coverage, Web, print ads, and the in-person event) only add value, according to Marshall.

AN INTEGRATED EFFORT
"We like the editorial coverage and other integrated marketing techniques that turn the two-hour luncheon into weeks of publicity, for us and for the person honored," says Marshall. "Not everyone in the cotton industry is at Beltwide, but the extended marketing and coverage gives most of the industry the opportunity to share in the information."

A well-managed award program is a beneficial relationship for both the sponsor and media partner, adds Jones. A media partner benefits from the financial support a company provides to share stories of achievement and excellence. The sponsor benefits by being tied to a high-profile honor.

But, says Jones, the sponsor who "gets it" does more than just attach their logo to promotional material. A company can show their support by promoting participation in their own print materials, on their Web sites and in their e-newsletters. They will equip their own sales force to nominate deserving customers and may send a representative to speak at the ceremony and forge a better understanding of top growers.

"The chance to meet face-to-face with the winner and sometimes the finalists for the award the innovative thinkers and market trend-setters can be a big benefit for a sponsor," says Jones.

Marshall agrees and adds that the face-to-face element helps to bring people together and create an event that becomes a tradition for the industry, something that is beneficial for a sponsoring company.

"Tradition is especially important in the world of cotton and the Cotton Grower Achievement Award has become a tradition," says Marshall."We hope we get some credit as time goes by for recognizing people who make a great contribution to cotton production."

SHINING A POSITIVE LIGHT
With awards programs, media organizations win because they get an opportunity to share positive news with readers, the industry, and the general public. They have a chance to positively impact perceptions of the industry and invite others to do the same.

A sponsoring company wins through the increased marketing and publicity it receives by aligning itself with a media partner that is focused on its customers. The company also gets a unique opportunity to be face-to-face with the industry's best and identify its brand with innovation and leadership. Finally, integrated marketing elements allow for year-long marketing.

Members of the industry win by being honored in front of their peers as leaders and innovators.

Awards and recognition programs are a way to share good news, help a company or media organization identify with achievement and encourage members of the industry to be better at what they do. And for these reasons, everyone wins.

Authors note: Kim McCloskey is manager of integrated marketing solutions for Clear Window Multimedia, a Meister Media Worldwide Company. Meister Media Worldwide is in its 75th year of serving readers and clients with best in class print publications as well as awards programs, trade shows, custom print, research and digital solutions. For more information, visit www.meistermedia.com.




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