A Sea of Nominations: How to Decide Which Awards Are Reputable in This New Era of Award Saturation

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With new professional services awards and nominations popping up all the time, it’s increasingly difficult to know what’s worthwhile and what’s a waste of time. Los Angeles Times, which used to run one annual business award, now runs at least five each year. By our count, National Law Journal has upwards of 17 lists for attorneys and law firms in various practice areas. Los Angeles Business Journal has nearly doubled the number of their lists. While each of these publications are reputable, is the value of their awards being diluted by the sheer number of lists out there?

As the awards market gets even more saturated, it begs the question of whether a reckoning is coming. Will outlets be forced to cut back on the lists they offer? Will pay-to-play and less prestigious awards be pushed out while the awards that really matter float to the top? Only time will tell, but in the meantime, professionals interested in awards need to know how to vet the ones that are worthwhile—which is only getting harder as more awards are introduced.

Despite all this, we’ve seen the value that awards can provide. Our advice is for firms to be specific and intentional about what they pursue.

Why Pursue Rankings and Awards?

  1. They offer third-party credibility.
    Awards demonstrate to potential clients that you are a recognized leader in your field, and most importantly, that expertise is showcased by a third-party.
  2. They give you a competitive edge.
    For small firms, new firms, or firms trying to get a foothold in a new market, earning recognition can level the playing field between you and your competitors. It’s one way to move up the ranks.
  3. They create a ripple effect of recognition.
    A single ranking can be shared on your website, added to your bio and email signature, posted on social media, shared in your email newsletter, and leveraged to generate more award and speaking opportunities. If you maximize the award, its value grows exponentially.

How to Choose Credible Opportunities in a Sea of Awards

  1. Rely on old standbys and known names.
    When in doubt, go for awards and rankings with the longest histories and the best name recognition. There is a reason why Chambers & Partners is revered by most lawyers: it’s been around for three decades, it has a rigorous vetting process and it’s a legitimate honor to be ranked. If you’ve known of the award for many years, that’s a good starting point.
  2. If you’re on the fence, look at the potential upside.
    Some attorneys think Best Lawyers is pointless while others think it’s a priceless marketing tool. Consider what being ranked by Best Lawyers might provide. Is Best Lawyers a name that will resonate with your potential clients? If the benefit isn’t worth the time and expense of applying, it’s probably an award you can safely skip, even if it’s legitimate.
  3. Look at past winners.
    Particularly with local and regional awards, you may have worked with some of the ranked people or firms. If you generally agree with the publication’s selections, that’s a good sign. On the flip side, if you know someone has been ranked even though their work is not up to par, it may mean the outlet is being lax with its selection process.
  4. Feeling pressured to pay for add-ons? It might not be the most prestigious award.
    Many outlets are entering the award space because it helps with their visibility and generates revenue. Even reputable publications are hoping that ranked firms and individuals will purchase ad space or a logo to promote their win. A few emails alerting you to paid marketing opportunities is normal, but if you’re being hounded with requests to purchase something, it could mean the outlet is prioritizing revenue over creating a legitimate list.
  5. Avoid pay-to-play awards.
    If an award wants to you pay a membership fee or purchase a plaque up front, it’s almost certainly a spam award that accepts anyone who pays. While the logo may look flashy to clients not in the know, you should avoid it if you want to focus your efforts on reputable awards.
  6. Get a better perspective.
    The above tips can be a great guide, but won’t always lead you to the right answer. Get a better perspective by looking at your year of awards. What’s on your wish list? What are your competitors pursuing? How many are you pursuing for the firm versus individuals? No firm has unlimited time and resources so it can come down to the number of awards you are willing to pursue and anything beyond that would be a distraction or a dilution of efforts.

Partner with a Trusted Los Angeles Marketing and PR Firm

Berbay Marketing & Public Relations has nearly three decades of experience providing law, real estate and financial firms with marketing and public relations services that propel your business forward. Berbay’s dedicated team has demonstrated success securing media placements, achieving nominations and rankings, revitalizing websites and social media, obtaining speaking engagements and more.

Looking to secure a coveted legal ranking with Los Angeles’ proven Marketing and PR team? Contact Berbay at (310) 405-7343 or info@berbay.com.

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