Content’s glittering prizes are up for grabs

July 3rd, 2017

The International Content Marketing Awards are now open for business. CMA managing director Catherine Maskell – a CMA award winner herself in an earlier role – explains what’s new and why the awards matter.

The awards season comes around faster every year, or so it feels. Perhaps it’s the anticipation that seemingly accelerates the cycle and telescopes the gap between each event.

And that time has come again. The CMA’s International Content Marketing Awards are once again open for entry.

And as the saying goes, if you ain’t in it, you ain’t going to win it. That moment in the spotlight, the glory, the thank-you speech, the celebratory fizz: unless you enter it will only ever be a fantasy.

I’m lucky enough to know what success at the awards means. At Reed Global we won gold and silver in 2015. You cannot underestimate the impact those wins had. We were delighted for our agency of course, and the external recognition the awards confer on it and those who worked on our business. They deserved the accolades.

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Equally, the internal effects were enormous. First, the team was enormously enthused and fired up. We went into the next year, and the next campaign, with energy, drive and commitment second to none. We felt like giants, and no obstacle could halt us.

Second, was the internal validation with senior Reed management and budget holders.  Our credibility and status were enhanced. That glory and sense of achievement conveyed by an award is reflected back up to the top of the organisation.

Focused on effectiveness and judging integrity

To me, it’s not hard to figure out why. Unlike other awards, which are focused exclusively or mainly on creativity, the CMA awards make effectiveness a key criterion.

As a former marketer, it cannot be any other way. All forms of marketing must be effective to be credible internally and to justify budget. This is one reason why the Reed Global management prized the awards so highly. We knew we had beaten other, formidable, brands on effectiveness to win.

One of the ways we maintain this focus on effectiveness at the CMA is through the quality of the judges. We invite experienced and hard-nosed judges to consider the entries. You cannot pull the wool over their eyes.

Last year’s judges included marketers from brands like Barclays, Axa, Spotify, Snapchat, EE and Asda. To get a feel, you can see the list of final-round judges here.

Freshening up the categories

This year, as with last, we are freshening up the categories. It’s something all awards need to do, but perhaps more so in content marketing than other disciplines.

This is because content marketing is the most dynamic and fast-moving of disciplines. The definition of content marketing is, of course, expanding continuously, as are the platforms and techniques which can be brought to bear and, not least, the new brands and services coming into content, all of which move the game on in their own ways.

You can see this most obviously in the previous winners but also in the make-up of the CMA membership. This is constantly evolving, and now includes many different specialisms: from search and social, to broadcasters and video specialists.

Thus, we have four new categories this year. Two, reflecting its growing importance – all the more so as the likes of Facebook move more deeply into it – are in video. One is for single or one-off videos; the other for series, where perhaps different executions will be used across multiple platforms or different videos will be used in sequential storytelling, the execution depending on either device or location or position in the purchase funnel.

A third is for Best Use of SEO. SEO and content are closely related, all the more so as search algorithms increasingly reward quality content.

The fourth addition is one we are especially delighted with. Like any forward-thinking industry, we should recognise and reward our young talent. So, this award – Rising Star – is an individual award for anyone under the age of 30, in any function or organisation, making an outstanding contribution to content marketing in the last 12 months.

You can find more about all the categories here.

But some things stay the same

Change is good, but so is continuity. And some things about the CMA awards aren’t changing. One is that they will remain the most competed-for dedicated content awards. Last year we had entries from over 120 agencies in 30 markets.

That will no doubt continue as content spreads its wings across the globe, as more brands roll out multi-market content campaigns, and agencies – notably our members – increasingly work on the global stage.

Two, as I noted earlier, we will continue to recruit only the most expert and experienced of judges.

And last, we keep our ceremonies tight. There’s nothing worse than awards ceremonies that go on too long – past the point where everyone wants to celebrate and network. We have just 28 awards, with the Grand Prix selected from one of the earlier winners. That tightness means we keep the ceremony down to around an hour.

Finally, if I have a word of advice for entrants, it’s this: as before, make sure your entries show how your content marketing made a difference to the client’s business.

All the details and key dates are here.

Good luck.

Catherine Maskell, Managing Director, The CMA

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