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Mar 30, 2020

How to go 100% online with your awards

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Ever thought of going 100% online with your awards? It might have seemed impossible a few years ago, but today with the right means and tools, it’s the better option in many cases. In times of crises like the one we’re facing now, it can literally save the day.When we say 100% online awards, we mean every aspect of it. An awards competition usually has three main phases: collecting and managing entries; a judging phase; and finally announcing the winners. We are going to have a look at each phase and give you actionable tips and tools on how to digitize them.

Why managing awards online is always a win-win and how to do it

Digitizing your awards management process is no doubt the best decision you can make. Ever. It’s actually the one move your team, the award judges and even the applicants themselves will all be thankful for. Because it makes everything quick, convenient and easy for everyone involved. And there are software solutions created to do just that - help you manage your awards the smart way. They facilitate literally every step of your awards program: from collecting and handling submissions to managing the judging phase from A to Z. All 100% online. Please bear in mind that while all awards management solutions have the same general characteristics, there are lots of differences in terms of features and interface. So we’ll explain how it all works in Evalato. Here’s the process in a nutshell.

Step 1: Setting up your program 🧑‍🎨

You set up your program just the way you want it. You can create as many categories as you want, group them into main groups or tracks and assign one or multiple application forms to them. With Evalato every element of your program is fully customizable: from the language and currency to the colours and style of the registration form.

Step 2: Collecting applications 📨 ☑️

With Evalato you get two options where your applicants can register for your awards. You can create a separate webpage with our easy webpage creator or embed the registration form on your own website. Once your applicants register for your program, they get a personal online portal to create and submit their application.

Step 3: Setting up the voting process 🗳️

You get to choose from various voting types, can add multiple rounds and scorecards, and even run a public voting phase. Then you assign submissions to the judges with just a click who get to enjoy a dedicated online portal to cast their votes 100% remotely.

Step 4: Announcing the results🏆

You monitor the progress and all results in real-time, and can choose to easily announce them on a webpage created automatically by the system.

What about real-time judging?

Some competitions require the judges to gather and work together. That can also happen entirely online and also happens to be much more cost-effective. You just need the right tech and some planning.

With Evalato your judges can vote from anywhere as long as they have an internet connection. All you’ll need to do is find a suitable time for all of them to be available online and organize the real-time judging.  The other essential tool you’ll need is a video conferencing tool. There are lots of great options out there like Zoom, Zoho Meetings, Google Meet or Google Hangouts, Microsoft Teams, etc.

Some important things to consider:

  • Provide judges with clear instructions

You need to clearly instruct judges on the judging criteria and how the voting will take place online. That also includes introducing them to the video conferencing tool you’ve chosen and asking them to test it in advance. Make things as easy as possible for them and keep them well informed.

With Evalato, you’ve got two easy ways of doing that. First, with a dedicated section within the judging portal where you can put the instructions. The other thing you can do is send the judges an automated email with instructions.

  • Send reminders

Since it’s much easier to forget about an online judging event than a live one, the judges might need a reminder or two. We recommend at least 4 reminders: a month before, a week before, a day before, and finally a few hours before the live judging. With Evalato you can set such reminders in advance with the custom automatic emails option.

  • Appoint a moderator

The moderator, being the head of the jury committee or your program manager, has a crucial role for the smooth running of the online judging. Make sure they also get a detailed plan and scenario of what to do.

  • Decide whether the judges can see each other's results

That totally depends on your awards program. You can have for example two judging rounds where in round 1 no judges are allowed to see the scores of the rest, whereas in round 2 all results need to be visible so that a final decision is met. Again, you can easily set any voting scenario with Evalato.

  • Test the process

We strongly advise you to test the whole process with your team before the actual online live judging. Invite colleagues and make a practice run with the video conferencing tool and your awards management software.

Ditching the live ceremony - a crazy thought or a better alternative?

It totally depends! Live award ceremonies, like every live event, are usually more engaging, create hype and have this wow effect that an online experience just can’t deliver. However, this might not be the best option for you. It usually requires more work, resources and extra expences, and involves higher risk for blunders or unforeseen circumstances. In times of crisis, an online alternative of a live ceremony is actually the only option you have left and it can literally save the day. If you decide to ditch the live award ceremony, here are the two alternatives:

  • an online award ceremony
  • an online announcement of the winners

How to nail an online awards ceremony

If you go with the first option, remember one thing - if can’t make it great, don’t do it. A crappy virtual ceremony could harm your brand image and ruin your next awards edition. If you do it right, however, you can earn the ooh-s and aah-s and maybe even a few wow-s from the audience! A virtual ceremony is all about perfect planning and lots of creativity. You actually need to be even more inventive to compensate for the lack of personal contact. Here are your stepping stones:

  • Start with a detailed plan

It’s still an event and the key to every successful event is the perfect planning, right? So pay extra attention to every little detail of your online ceremony - from concept to execution.

  • Choose your service providers and technology wisely

That’s the part you really don’t want to spare any expenses on.Take your time choosing a production team, designers, videographers, and anyone else you might need to help you craft a perfect online event. The technology you choose is also crucial for the smooth running of your online ceremony. Depending on your needs this can include a streaming service, a video conferencing service, a live poll app, or even an AI. So make a plan, research and pick wisely.

  • Think of creative ways to announce the winners

To make an experience out of an online event is a much harder task. Forget about just announcing the winners with some music in the background - that’s just boring. Now is the time to unleash your creativity! Use gamification, include entertaining moments, jokes, share some interesting stats, info from your industry - find ways to engage your audience. Eventex Awards, for example, used artists and short videos with an urban backdrop to announce the winners. You can see their online ceremony 2019 here.

  • Interact with your audience

Though online, it’s still an event so you need to interact with your audience. Social media is a great way to do that - you can for example show and answer comments in real-time. You can also use live polls. Or allow the finalists to join the live broadcast and give the floor to the winners for a short thank you speech. Just plan it in advance and test everything.

  • Don’t make it too long

An online awards ceremony can’t be as long as a live one. People won’t enjoy being trapped in front of the screen for more than an hour or so. So try to be concise and engaging.

The golden rule of an online announcement

That’s the alternative that lacks both the glamour of a live awards ceremony and any live interaction with your winners, be it online or not. But before saying no-no to this option, just ask yourself this question.

What is the primary reason for entrants to participate in your awards?

The answer is always one - being recognized for the exceptional work they’ve done. Yes, they might enjoy getting all dressed up and having a chat with fellows from the industry, or watch your online show, but at the end of the day that’s not why they entered the awards. So don’t be reluctant to consider this option because it has other advantages for you and your audience.

The pros: An online announcement of your winners is definitely the most budget-friendly and easy option for you as an organizer. Your finalists, on the other hand, might even prefer this option because it saves them time and expenses (for travel, accommodation, etc.). In times of crisis it also allows you to react ad hoc and still make your entrants happy.

The golden rule in this case is one:

Give your finalists as much additional value and benefits as possible!

Here are some tips:

  • Create a dedicated page to showcase the winners

If you can hire a designer to create a masterpiece for you - don’t hesitate, your winners will appreciate it. Evalato gives you a hand here, especially if transparency is important. It automatically creates a neat applications page for you if you want to showcase the final results online. You can choose to show the entries in a list or in details, the average rating for each entry, as well as the individual judge votes and comments.

  • Feature both the finalists and the winners

You can do that on social media, in blog posts, newsletters, podcasts or through any other communication channel you use. The more, the better.

  • Try to involve them in a conversation

If you have a podcast, invite some winners to talk about their winning entry or simply use your social media channels to spark a conversation.

  • Provide finalists and winners with online deliverables

Help them show off! Create badges, certificates, social media visuals, frames,  or other digital stuff they can use right away.

  • Give presents

Surprize your finalists and winners with something special. This time we’re talking about an actual present. Could be a personalized gift or a bottle of champagne for the winners - just make them feel special.

Now that you know how to go 100% online with your awards competition, it’s your turn. Plan the perfect online awards, choose the right tools and remember that you can still amaze everyone.

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