Hardly a week goes by, it seems, without an awards show. The Oscars, Emmys, Screen Actors Guild, All Star, Top 10, Hall of Fame, Best of Everything, People’s Choice, Reader’s Choice, Taster’s Choice. Come to think of it, when isn’t it awards season?
I love to celebrate success, but even I am growing weary of what seems to be an increasing number of invented awards. By that I mean awards programs conceived by enterprise to recognize deserving people, products and ideas, but also to create “news” that fills magazine editorial pages, sells advertising space, and fills seats at conferences and dinner tables. Look past the acrylic and veneer, and you will see that not only are awards good publicity for the recipients, they are good for the businesses that sponsor them.
Not all awards are invented. However, if the entry fees are steep, if the “judges” stand to benefit financially from your participation, or if there is an evident quid pro quo, e.g., your mailing list so they can invite 200 of your closest colleagues to celebrate with you, then you might want to take a moment to ask yourself if your prize is someone else’s profit center.
Associations also bestow awards. The difference is that these awards traditionally are a means for members to recognize and celebrate their peers. The awards serve as a reminder of why the association exists, to recognize service and dedication to the organization, or to raise the bar for professional achievement. In short, these awards are earned.
Association awards rarely make the covers of glossy magazines and often get lost in the competition for eyeballs that all organizations now find themselves in. The never-ending awards season diminishes the value of all awards, both invented and earned.
Wondering why Green Acres was capitalized in the title of this blog? I will own up that, in 1980, I received a National Arbor Day Foundation Award on behalf of the University of Wisconsin. To this day, I don’t know who nominated the campaign I helped create or why I was chosen to represent the UW. I can say I was hugely honored and literally shaking in my high heels when I accepted the award. Regrettably, the foundation’s spokesperson, Green Acres star Eddie Albert, was detained in Hollywood. I have photos.
But, that’ll cost you.