As part of my ‘day job’ as a Marketing Manager, industry awards and accolades are a really important part of day-to-day business. Hardly a week passes when I’m not looking at award categories or writing up entry submissions. This isn’t something however that has crept into my other work… Until recently that is!
Just before the last TEDxCardiff Neil and I were very kindly nominated for an Inspire Wales award. I was fairly surprised and flattered and we spent the day before TEDx filling in paper work for the awards, something I particularly struggled with because, although if you’re a design agency you have something tangible to show for your efforts, you can say ‘yeah, we did an awesome job with our design, if you don’t believe us take a look for yourself… See, isn’t it great!’ (that’s not quite how I write my award entries by the way), but for being ‘inspirational’ it’s a little harder to prove your outcomes, I can’t capture in a form the shear love and devotion that goes in to every one of our events and the results and feedback we get from our audiences, and I don’t think a suitable way of completing an awards entry is ‘well, I guess you had to be there’.
Needless to say, we didn’t get shortlisted (you probably guessed that as if we had been, the tone of this post may be a little different…!). Yes, I was a little disappointed although I spent a fair amount of time convincing myself, and trying to convince Neil, that it was OK, our whole ethos is to do things a little differently and because of that people don’t always ‘get’ what we do. It’s a prime example of experiential, I think you really do need to be there to understand how our formats work, that goes for TEDxCardiff, Ignite Cardiff and for what’s coming next… So we don’t need these awards to tell us how we’re doing…
Sour grapes? Hrm, maybe! It may also come as no surprise that when we came to talking about desired outcomes for next year’s event my initial response was ‘I want to win an award… For anything, I don’t care what’.
An element of it is, as much as I hate to admit it, about acceptance and the acknowledgment that we do good things. Ok, it may not be to everyone’s taste, we may not be saving kittens, rehoming orphaned dolphins or protecting Namibian Mountain Goats (yet…) but I like to think we’re contributing to a little corner of what makes Cardiff great so I’ll probably be working a little bit harder towards getting more recognition for what we do. On the other hand, we’re not a hard edged business either. Doing something that we love of more important to us than making money, and perhaps that also goes against us. Like an awkward teenager we’re not even really sure where we belong so I don’t know how I expect other people to know (are we a not-for-profit? Yes, are we a start-up? Hrm maybe, are we arts or education based? Kinda…).
So, does that mean we need to be more commercialised? Maybe. More business-like? Probably. I suspect part of the problem is that to the outer world it may look like we’re ‘playing’ and not taking things to seriously and perhaps that’s why I don’t have a range of shiny trophies adorning my shelves but I’ll remain optimistic. It’s always good to have something to aim for and in the mean time I’ll start clearing my walls ready to be inundated with nominations next years!