Alastair Campbell, the key strategist and terror of the media at the Cabinet Office during the Blair years, once stated: “business awards are antidotes to mediocrity” – a statement that makes Helen Warrilow a very happy woman.
Why? Because her three years of hard work bringing business awards to market is now paying off and providing an antidote to mediocrity.
Helen is the commercial director of Stratford Projects, based in Stratford-upon-Avon, which is steadily building a commercially successful portfolio of projects, including:
- The Online Business Awards, which seek out the best online businesses and retailers in the UK, and will reward the winners at a lunchtime event on November 15 at the National Conference Centre, Bickenhill, Solihull (adjacent to the Motorcycle Museum).
- The Care Home Awards, which celebrate innovation and business success among care home owners and operators and suppliers to the care home sector in the UK, presented at a summer event in London.
- The Digital Signage Awards, which are international in scope and seek out outstanding examples of innovation and excellence in digital signage and digital-out-of-home advertising around the world, currently staged in Amsterdam each February.
- And the Home Care Awards, which reward excellence and innovation in home and domiciliary care across the UK, with the next event scheduled to take place at or near the NEC, Birmingham, during the Home Care Expo (part of the Dementia & Care Show).
In the pipeline, and also starting to attract attention are the Learning Excellence Awards, the Pharmacy Excellence Awards and the Micro-Generation Awards.
“Every project starts with research into the sector concerned,” says Helen “but even then, it can take three years to build a successful project appreciated fully by its market sector. There’s no doubt that teaming up with great media partners helps hugely in terms of both reach and credibility in a sector. We work with Talk Business for the Online Business Awards, for instance and these media partners act as our mentors and help us guard the integrity and impartiality of our awards projects.”
The company runs lean, with just four members of staff and a support network of specialists – as is common in the events industry. This has brought its own pressures as the projects blossom in size and commercial success.
“We realised that careful planning was needed to ensure projects didn’t conflict with each other for executive time. To help with this we took time out to find the best event management software we could. We identified a UK supplier and purchased licences from the event management software specialists, Evessio. This will enable us to provide a more efficient, more user-friendly service to entering companies, sponsors, and for those booking places at our awards and future conferences. It really is an exciting time for us” Helen Warrilow reports.
With the Digital Signage Awards, Home Care Awards and the Care Home Awards already completed for 2019, the company’s focus now is on making a success of the Online Business Awards. These are for any business or retailer with a strong online presence, but have a particular ambition to praise start-ups and SMEs that are setting high standards online.
There are 16 categories to enter, split into three sections: Design, Creativity & Content, Enterprise Sector, and Performance. The call for entries is currently open at www.onlinebusinessawards.co.uk and the deadline for entries is July 31. Judging will take place during August, with the short-list of finalists published in early September.
The search is on, too, for Awards sponsors. Any company that benefits from online trading could be a sponsor: such as financial technology and payments companies, or advisors, lawyers and accountants, or online marketing operations, or ISPs, e-commerce companies and other data and software companies, plus the specialist suppliers like photo and video or web design companies and the delivery companies, without whom online businesses would struggle. More information about sponsorship can be requested via the awards website using the simple form provided.
If ever antidotes to mediocrity were needed to help dispel the sick feelings surrounding the mess that is Brexit, then Stratford Projects seems to have the knack of dispensing it in precise doses to very disparate sectors of business. The company is making real commercial headway after the usual ups and downs of the first three years of trading and aims for commercial success and the facility to provide independent and constructive feedback for companies that enter the awards. The Online Business Awards will notch up the fourth celebration event successfully brought to market, with more to come.