Eddie Redmayne, Michael Keaton and Julianne Moore might have make the business of award winning look easy, but as the marketers amongst us know too well, the media machines behind the big studios they work for have been beavering away in the background for months to make sure it was their talent that was treading the red carpet at Sunday night’s Oscars ceremony.

The rules in Hollywood are exactly the same as the rules in business, so as the movie world’s rich and famous recover post the infamous awards parties, we’re taking a behind the scenes look at how to play the recognition game in your industry.

You’ve got to be in it to win it: most companies don’t win awards because most companies don’t enter them

Reese Witherspoon didn’t get nominated for best actress by being coy and anyone who’s actually seen Wild (right to the end) is unlikely to need any convincing that some kind of marketing magic must be going on in the background when it comes to getting shortlisted for the Oscars.

In business, just like in the movies, it pays to airbrush out the negatives and accentuate the positives.

Truth is, most companies don’t win awards because most companies don’t enter. And even if they do, most entries fall at the first hurdle because they’ve been put together too hastily by insiders with too little commitment. After all, even the most exceptional business achievements look a little ragged round the edges when you’re working on them 9 to 5 day after day, month after month.

Playing to win at the awards game

Over lengthy applications offering every minute detail of a company’s achievement without actually panning out to look at the big picture is the most frequently voiced gripe of the judges we talk to about the businesses they evaluate for awards and recognition. Rather than being crisp and to the point, complex difficult to read applications quickly force judges to adopt tight elimination processes before actually getting down to the real work of evaluation. Applications so “innovative” that the allotted space on the form needs to be supplemented with reams of additional (un-requested) support material are unlikely to dazzle. Similarly submissions littered with footnotes promising that the case study, product examples or customer endorsements necessary for consideration will be” mailed under separate cover ASAP” will find their way to the shredder in minutes.

Here’s our top tips list for getting on the shortlist

See yourself on the podium: Rule number one is easy. Before you even start your application, use the sports psychology tactics that got Lizzy Yarnold Britian’s first Olympic medal on snow this winter. If you visualise your company as an award winning business before you pick up the pen, your application will be streets ahead of most of the competition.

Get a bid team together: The best applications take time and effort. To treat the task with the respect it deserves you’ll need a crack team of committed colleagues. Allocate key aspects of the application process to key players, making sure that all the bases are covered. If case studies are to support the bid, make sure you submit the best freshest examples available. If sales statistics or business growth evidence is required make sure you’re delivering exactly what was asked for by the award organisers. And put one of your best administrators on the case too. You won’t believe how may awards are lost because the application is lost under in the CEO’s “to do” tray!

Track your progress: Completing your paperwork and getting it in the mail is the beginning, not the end, of an award winning application strategy. Calling the organisers to see how your bid is progressing will make you look keen rather pushy and, if you’re not short listed you’ll at least deserve some personal help and advice that’s likely to become invaluable next time round.

Play the numbers game: Ever noticed how companies either win lots of awards all the time or never win any? Putting together winning bids is a major resource outlay and putting all your eggs in one basket just doesn’t justify the effort. A good bid team will pull together a hot list of awards they want on to see in the corporate trophy cabinet and repurpose materials to suit multiple applications. As Helen Mirren will testify, having an Oscar on the living room mantelpiece might be the holy grail of movie making achievement, but a BAFTA still makes a pretty respectable table feature.

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— Fiona Tully, Sift Media