Which education awards should you enter?

And when does your award entry need to go in?

Entering and winning an award for your company is a straightforward way to improve recognition for your brand, product, or service.

There are three key reasons for this.

Firstly, awards improve your industry reputation. Your status is increased amongst your peers and competitors. Secondly, your customers can see that your service or product is high quality enough to achieve recognition. Finally, awards naturally attract great media coverage, to spread brand awareness and potentially increase your exposure through search engine ratings and on social media.

That said, it can be quite a minefield to search for the best award to enter. Application deadlines and category guidelines vary and some companies can be put off by the amount of time it takes to find the right award.

So, we’ve done the work for you.

Below are our top suggestions for education awards to apply for in 2021 and 2022 – good luck!

Name of awardLinkAbout the awardsApplication deadlineBest for Opportunities
Digital Education Awardswww.digitaleducationawards.com/2021awardsRecognising the best in the EdTech industry19th Nov for 2021Edtech companiesMarketing credibility

Magazine feature

Product/service validation, visibility, and recognition
Education Resources Awardswww.educationresourcesawards.co.ukRecognising those who make the best impact on services, educators, and the classroom25th February 2022Edtech companies, learning resources companiesPress coverage, validation of a product valued by educators
TES Awardswww.tesawards.co.uk/tesschoolsawardsCelebrating the achievements of staff and schoolsDetails of 2022 awards to be announced early February 2022Schools and staffProduct/service validation, visibility, and recognition

Press coverage
Edtech Breakthrough Awardswww.edtechbreakthrough.comRecognising the best companies, products and services in the field of educational technology2022 entry deadline likely to open January - March based on previous yearsEdtech companies large and smallMedia coverage, coverage on award website, endorsement among colleagues
Learning Technologies Awardswww.learningtechnologies.co.uk/learning-tech-awardsRepresenting talent and ingenuityKeep an eye out in May - July for 2022 entry dateEdtechs including games, learning resources and school administration supportMedia coverage across Europe and potential to get involved with summer forum and roadshows to showcase products
National School Awardswww.nationalschoolsawards.co.ukRecognise, celebrate and reward senior leaders, schools and multi-academy trusts for their dedication and hard workMay deadline for 2022 awards based on previous yearSchools, academies and individual teachersHosted at the House of Lords - high esteem award for academies and individual staff members. Great media coverage for individual schools
Pearson National Teaching Awardswww.teachingawards.comRaising the profile of the teaching profession through highlighting the positive impact teachers and school leaders have in our society2022 awards yet to open, but you can register your interest on the website hereTeachers, schools, or individual staff members in education institutionsExpansive media coverage! 2021 saw a BBC Documentary ('Classroom Heroes'), feature on The One Show, newsletter, website, social media and Pearson Podcast. A great way to cover lots of bases. High esteem for staff and individual schools
PIEoneer Awardswww.pieoneerawards.com/thepieoneerawards'The PIEoneer Awards are the international education industry's equivalent of the Oscars.'2022 entry TBC (previously opened in March)Companies focused on diversity, employment, digital innovation and student wellbeingJudges’ comments will be sent to winners to be used publicly. Media coverage, global recognition on awards site and social media. High esteem in the industry
Bett Awardswww.bettawards.com/about-bett-awards/Celebrating the world’s leading education technology solutions2021 entries have now closed. 2022 deadline likely to be SeptEducation technology companiesInternational exposure

Product/Service validation, visibility, and recognition
Education Awardswww.education-awards.co.ukRewarding the most outstanding contributors to the education sectorSeptemberEstablishments, organisations and people who contribute to the education sectorProduct/service validation, visibility, and recognition
Education Investor Awardswww.educationinvestor.co.uk/educationinvestor-awardsCelebrating excellence and innovation in the business of education in the UKEarly OctoberProfessionals investing in, advising or operating companies in the education sectorProduct/service validation, visibility, and recognition
Tech for Teachers Awardswww.teachwire.net/tech-for-teachersCelebrating Tech for Teachers that has a genuine classroom impactPreviously OctoberCompanies with tech products for teachingMedia coverage print, 37,500 copies

Feature on teacherwire.net 65,000 visitors

Newsletter feature 21k subscribers
Education Business Awardswww.awards.educationbusinessuk.net/Recognising school achievementsPreviously May entry deadlineSchoolsEndorsement, product/service validation, visibility and recognition
Global Edtech Startup (GES) Awardswww.globaledtechawards.org'The world's largest awards for global Ed Tech startups'Closed for 2021entry but one to consider for 2022For startup Edtechs wanting to go global to expand their geographic reach. This is an international awardGlobal recognition so one for expanding your borders. Great media coverage, recongition as an international provider

This concludes our list of top awards to apply for.

If you’re keen to enter any of these awards but are perhaps new to the game, or could do with a little refresher, we have a great blog covering our best advice on How To Write A Winning Award Entry.

Good luck!

 

Image by ktphotography from Pixabay

How can a PR strategy help my edtech start-up?

It’s no surprise that start-ups offering remote working solutions, online learning tools and food delivery services are among the companies that have achieved considerable growth in 2020.

The current climate is bringing significant challenges to some education-focussed businesses, while others have thrived from adapting their offerings or bringing new products and services to market to meet the changing needs of schools, colleges and universities.

But short-term growth doesn’t guarantee long-term business success.

In 2019, there were 5.9 million small and medium sized businesses operating in the UK – but 11% of all businesses ceased trading that year according to government figures.

So, what can fledgling edtech businesses do to help them deliver sustainable growth?

How to help your edtech start-up business succeed

The challenge is that launching a successful new business is all-consuming. Your blood sweat and tears have gone into developing a product or service that you know will help solve the problems your prospective customers are struggling with. Naturally, you want to get your new offering out to market as soon as possible.

The temptation for many edtech start-ups at this point is to focus all efforts on selling to schools. An announcement might make its way on to the news page of your website or an ad could be placed in the print and online media your prospects read. There might even be a handful of social media posts created about the launch. This won’t get your business noticed by your target audience.

All too often, a more strategic plan to raise awareness of the new business or offering is put on the back burner to be picked up once the brand is more established.

However, putting a well-designed integrated PR and marketing plan in place from the start can make the difference between a new business that flies and one that is at risk of falling at the first hurdle.

Here are three tips from us to help your start-up or SME get great results from education PR.

  1. Get the messaging right

Let’s say your company has developed a new tracking tool to help schools monitor the impact of catch-up lessons on pupils’ achievement and your sales success relies on teachers knowing that it’s superior to other solutions on the market.

Launching a campaign designed to knock or discredit your competitors might bring short-term gains, but this approach will put you at risk of damaging your brand.

You will get much more positive and sustainable results from shaping a strategic plan of PR and marketing activity that incorporates language that resonates with your target audience, highlights your credentials as thought leaders in pupil assessment and showcases testimonials from customers that back up what you’re saying.

  1. Make the most of positive customer stories

You are much more likely to spark the attention of heads and teachers in schools by having other educators talk about how great you are in a radio interview or podcast boosted on Facebook than you will talking about what you do well yourself.

Customer advocacy has been shown to increase the effectiveness of marketing efforts by as much as 54% and word-of-mouth is the primary factor behind up to half of all purchasing decisions

Make sure you have a way to identify and capture the great stories and experiences of your existing customers as the business develops and grows. When 80% of word-of-mouth comes directly as a result of personal experience, you can see why positive customer stories are so critical to the successful promotion of any new product or service.

  1. Create great content

Don’t be tempted to blast your prospects with technical details of your product – few teachers will be interested in the fact that the new app you’ve launched to support children’s literacy development is built on API technology.

You are much more likely to turn your prospective customers into sales if you focus on creating quality content that adds value and helps them solve the problems they face.

It’s getting harder to reach senior leaders in schools and academy trusts. So, if your company provides CPD to primary schools, a series of blogs on how to support the wellbeing of under-fives is more likely to be read by your target audience of school leaders than a company newsletter. If they have found the content useful, they will be much more likely to contact your organisation when they need to arrange behaviour management training for teachers across the school.

Avoid peppering your digital content with too many keywords and phrases designed to influence your SEO too. Google is getting much smarter at spotting corporate generated promotional materials and this will have a negative impact on your SEO ranking, making it less likely that your content will be seen by the people you are trying to reach.

It’s better to choose a few strong keywords, rather than overdoing it.

Find more information on how we can help your start-up get the most from PR here.

If you want to know how to get your brand noticed by senior leaders in education, you can download our Influence Schools White Paper.

You may also be interested in our blog What marketing messages will teachers want to hear in September 2020/21

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How to get the attention of senior leaders in schools and academy trusts

Here at The Influence Crowd we work in all sectors of education, but the one request we get more than any other is from organisations that need help targeting leaders schools and academy trusts.

Many brands are finding that their marketing efforts to headteachers are simply not working anymore, and this is having an impact on their ability to sell more education products and services.

So, if you want headteachers in schools and academy trusts to take notice of your brand, you need to approach things a little differently.

And that starts with research.

  1. Talk to leaders in schools and academy trusts

The first step is to talk to your existing customers and prospects about what they read and where they go for information.

You want to know which education podcasts they listen to, who they follow on social feeds, and which channels they use – are they on LinkedIn or Twitter, Facebook or Instagram? Do they prefer to follow Teacher Toolkit or TeacherTapp?

Start reading the same articles and follow the same people your customers do to get an understanding of what they get from these sources and a better idea of the type of content they like.

  1. Understand their problems

The second step is to ask the school leaders you are already in contact with about the issues they are tackling in their schools at the moment.

Find out which areas they need the most help and advice with – it might be putting catch-up lessons in place that boost pupils’ progress, dealing with staff shortages due to shielding or improving children’s wellbeing. If any of these areas cross with issues your product or service can help with, then you are on to something.

You can take it a stage further and do a keyword search around the subject. This will help refine the words and phrases to include in your content so that it is easily found by search engines.

  1. Target school leaders and MATS on many fronts

Step three is planning a multi-channel approach to getting your content in front of leaders.

Pitch article ideas to education media outlets that cover the issues you want to focus on. Put interesting customers forward as interviewees to the podcasts your target audience listen to. You may also want to work with an influential blogger on a series of guides addressing a key issue, or create a help video that you can push out through an engaging social media advertising campaign.

Follow this plan to strengthen your education marketing strategy and you will have a much greater chance of influencing school leaders.

And if you want to know more about this method, you can download our Influence Schools White Paper.

You may also be interested in our blog What marketing messages will teachers want to hear in September 2020/21.

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What marketing messages will universities want to hear in 2020/21?

The coronavirus pandemic forced universities to make some rapid changes to the way they work, including closing their campuses, shifting to online teaching and finding alternative ways to assess their students’ learning.

These institutions now face a whole new set of pressures as they tackle the year ahead.

The logistics of keeping students safe, engaged and learning are only part of the story, and universities will welcome suppliers which can help them with these immediate challenges.

However, to survive and thrive, universities need to take the long view of their roles in a post-pandemic world, and they’ll be particularly receptive to messaging which reflects an understanding of the wider issues in higher education.

That’s why it’s important for businesses in higher education to know what the key trends are in the sector so they can hit the right note with their communications.

So what do you need to consider in your higher education PR planning?

  1. The blended learning model

Many universities were already providing some form of online learning offering prior to the pandemic, with lecture recordings, established virtual learning environments and high-quality multimedia content. But during lockdown, institutions had to shift everything online, with students joining tutorials on Zoom and taking open book exams at the kitchen table.

Now the emphasis is on blended learning with a mix of online and face-to-face delivery.

This appears to be the model most students are expecting as the academic year progresses. A National Union of Students survey found that almost half of students (47%) expected to be taught online in the first term of the coming academic year, but in term two 59% of students expected to be taught via blended learning.

The hybrid model may see students watching live-streamed or recorded lectures from home or within bubbles in their halls of residence, but attending smaller seminars, tutorials and laboratory sessions in person with physical distancing in place.

Universities will need support as they embed this blended learning approach more deeply into the curriculum, and if your solutions can help, it’s important to make this a core element of your messaging.

  1. A tough financial climate

Covid-19 is hitting higher education finances hard. With the pandemic touching every corner of the globe, and travel restrictions changing day by day, it’s harder for students to commit to overseas study. The impact of this is that institutions will be welcoming fewer international students this year.

Many universities are also facing lockdown-related losses of income from the reduced uptake of student accommodation and conference and catering operations.

The Institute of Fiscal Studies states that the total size of the losses faced by the sector is highly uncertain, but could be anywhere between £3 billion and £19 billion – that’s between 7.5% and nearly half of the sector’s overall income in one year.

This could leave some universities struggling to survive.

To be able to continue to deliver high quality education and research, institutions will have difficult financial decisions to make, and brands which understand these challenges and help to address them will be welcomed.

  1. A different student experience

Starting university in 2020/21 will be like never before, with virtual freshers’ weeks, restricted campus facilities and physically distanced social bubbles.

Confronted with this prospect, it’s hardly surprising many students considered deferring their university place for a year. Back in May, a poll by the Sutton Trust found that 19% of students had changed their mind about university attendance this autumn or had yet to decide.

However, the alternative may not be an option either, as the pandemic has put paid to some of the traditional gap year pursuits. Travel is largely off the cards, and jobs in hospitality or retail are hard to come by with so many experienced employees currently out of work and looking for roles.

In this uncertain climate, universities will need to find ways to make the student experience a positive one.

This is the message behind the Universities UK campaign #2020MADEUS which aims to give this year’s school leavers a message of confidence and hope as they continue with their plans to start university courses this autumn.

Institutions may be looking for additional resources to help students make the most of the social aspect of university, by helping students build new friendships despite the restrictions, and focusing on mental health and wellbeing.

Brands targeting the sector will hit the mark if they factor these messages into their PR planning.

  1. Covid-19 and student retention

One of key risks for universities in the wake of Covid-19 is a negative impact on student retention and progression.

Many of the 2020 cohort which universities will be welcoming this autumn have not been at school or college since March and may have missed out on some of the essential learning that would have given them a head start in their higher education studies.

And for the first time ever, students starting their university course will not have taken A levels or any other sixth form qualifications. Instead their grades are based on predicted grades.

This could mean more first year students losing confidence and struggling to get a foothold on their new course in those crucial early weeks and months.

Similarly, current students may find the lack of face-to-face interaction with lecturers and fellow students affects their academic performance.

A blog from the Higher Education Policy Institute suggests that, “With a prolonged absence from more traditional support, many students, particularly those from disadvantaged backgrounds, are likely to experience a dent in confidence and disconnection from learning, despite the best intentions of universities. Some will leave their studies.”

Universities may be looking for tools and technology that can help them identify students in difficulty, so they can provide targeted support and prevent them from dropping out of their course.

It’s a pivotal moment for universities, and the steps they take now to alleviate the impact of Covid-19 will shape their future. Any PR plan needs to take account of opportunities for universities to focus on the positives as the world emerges from the crisis.

Campaigns and communications which demonstrate a deeper understanding of the new higher education landscape stand the highest chance of success in these extraordinary times.

 

To find out more, why not read our guide to good PR planning.

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio from Pexels

 

 

What marketing messages will teachers want to hear in September 2020?

Over the summer holidays, many in the education sector use the relative quiet to plan their marketing and PR campaigns for the year ahead so they can hit the ground running come September.

But this year, things are a little more complicated than before.

Whereas previously, planning often involved updating your messaging to make it more relevant to current policies or trends, this year, a wholescale rethink may be required.

So much has altered in education, that what previously might have headed up the to do list for a teacher or school leader may no longer make it into the top 10 things they need to think about right now.

Covid-19 has changed everything. So what does that mean for your PR planning?

The more things change the more they stay the same

To develop a good PR or marketing campaign in any sector, you need to tap into your audience’s hopes and dreams. Or calm their worst nightmares. This has not changed. It’s just that you need to take a fresh look at what a teacher or school leader’s priorities are as they return to school in September 2020.

With this in mind, we thought it would be helpful to pull together some of the latest research to unpick what teachers will need help with this Autumn. If your organisation can genuinely demonstrate that you are responding to teachers’ current problems, your communications and campaigns will stand out above the rest.

What’s on teachers’ minds

So what are teachers thinking about at the moment?

  • Closing the attainment gap between disadvantaged pupils and their peers

The Education Endowment Foundation recently examined the existing research available on the impact of lockdown on the attainment gap. The conclusion was that the impact of lockdown would reverse any progress made in this area in the last decade, with estimates indicating the gap would widen by 38%.

No one will be more acutely aware of this than the head that knows how many children are in receipt of pupil premium in their school or the teacher who has struggled unsuccessfully to get a response from the parents of the child who has only submitted a couple of items of work for marking since lockdown began.

These children will be front and foremost in the minds of educators as September nears. Brands that are sympathetic to this challenge or that prove they can help reengage learners will fare better than those that can’t.

  • Developing and delivering a catch-up curriculum

Teachers will be facing the prospect of working out how much learning pupils have missed during lockdown, and the need for a catch-up curriculum could be causing some sleepless nights.

According to Teacher Tapp, the teacher survey app, some year groups and subjects have fared worse than others during the pandemic. 63% of Key Stage 2 teachers say they have only delivered half or less than half of the intended curriculum, and for Key Stage 1 and Early Years, the figure is 57%.

Helping children catch up on essential primary learning will be a priority.

For secondary schools, art, design and technology and PE teachers were most likely to say that pupils missed out on at least half of the curriculum they should have received. And only 11% of English teachers say they had delivered the entire curriculum during lockdown.

Schools will be looking for support during this catch-up phase, and if your business can help teachers focus on key learning priorities to make up for lost time, make sure that’s reflected in your messaging.

  • Pupil mental health

The emotional impact of living through Covid-19 cannot be underestimated, and schools will be concerned about their pupils’ state of mind at the start of term. Children may have felt the impact of strained household finances, family illness or bereavement.

Bright Minds carried out a survey of young people with a history of mental health difficulties which found that 80% of children agreed the coronavirus pandemic had made their mental health worse, and 41% said it was much worse.

Younger children are also affected. Parents and carers of children aged between four and 10 years of age reported that over a one-month period in lockdown, they saw increases in their child’s emotional difficulties, according to a University of Oxford study.

With pupil wellbeing at the top of the agenda, schools may be adapting their timetable, staffing and classroom space to provide additional emotional support for individuals and small groups. Headteachers and SENCos may be keen to access resources which strengthen a school’s approach to pastoral care in the coming months, and they are likely to welcome brands which understand the importance of good mental health.

  • Teacher mental health

Teacher Tapp regularly measures the anxiety levels of educators. Following the announcement that schools should start planning to re-open for select primary school year groups from the start of June, 16% of state school teachers and 40% of headteachers reported feeling highly anxious.

September 2020 could see a similar pattern of anxiety levels among the teaching profession.

Teaching staff may be concerned about the extent of the work ahead of them in tackling learning losses, they could also be anxious about the safety of their work environment and the changes imposed on them by social distancing measures. Of course, many staff members are carrying the burden of family worries too.

Schools are likely to be focusing on teacher wellbeing by renewing policies and procedures and providing additional training for staff. Organisations which understand the challenges and can offer flexible CPD options could be well placed to help schools support their teams.

  • Maintaining safe distances while learning

Each new school year brings something of the unknown – there are new cohorts, colleagues and timetables to get used to. This year, there’s the added task of keeping everyone as safe as possible from Covid-19 infection – which is no small challenge.

Depending on the age of the children, teachers may find themselves reinforcing the social distancing message endlessly throughout the day, ensuring equipment is sanitised and teaching children in their bubbles.

Schools are expecting to welcome all children back in September, although this could change, of course, and the government advice is that “while coronavirus (COVID-19) remains in the community, this means making judgments at a school level about how to balance minimising any risks from coronavirus by maximising control measures with providing a full educational experience for children and young people.”

This may involve rearranging classrooms, removing assembly from the school day and staggering start and finishing times. School suppliers should consider how their solutions can help schools as they go through this period of change.

It’s likely that school leaders and teachers will spend this summer planning for the unpredictable as nobody knows exactly what September has in store. But by tuning in to teachers’ thinking, education companies can ensure their messaging hits the mark.

The best PR and marketing campaigns will do what they’ve always done – understand teachers’ challenges and find ways to help.

 

To find out more about planning your education PR campaign, you might like to read our PR Planning blog. 

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Checklist for selecting a PR Agency

You have finally decided that you need a PR agency to help you get noticed by your target audiences. So, what points do you need to consider when choosing which will be the right agency for you?

Here are some guidelines to help.

  • Sector knowledge: Is the agency able to successfully demonstrate that they have achieved the outcomes and coverage in the publications/blogs you want for other clients? Do they understand the market – the issues that affect it and the journalists, bloggers, Twitterati and industry influencers in this sector?
  • Channel knowledge: Do they understand the difference between how a campaign should be pitched to a journalist and how that same message would work on social media? Do they know which channels your target market uses? Do they know if Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram or Twitter would be best for your campaign?
  • Reputation: Ask to speak to some of their clients. Are they happy with how the agency works to achieve their objectives?
  • The pitch: Does their sales pitch to you meet the objectives of the briefing? Can they answer the question, “What is the first step in this campaign?” as this demonstrates they have thought beyond the creative stage and have also considered how the activity fits with your objectives?
  • The team: Ask who is going to work on the account (it is not always those that will pitch for it) and their experience of this sector. You could even ask to see examples of campaigns the individuals have worked on if you have doubts. Do they understand what makes a good story for a journalist or how to influence bloggers? Do you feel you can work with the team in the long term?
  • Crisis management: Depending on your product and sector, the ability to demonstrate knowledge and successful management of PR crises could be key too.
  • Costs and methods of charging: Ask about their fees, but also how expenses are calculated. Some agencies charge for a lot of additional expenses, which means costs can add up significantly over and above a monthly retainer.
  • Governance and policies: The agency should not currently handle the PR for any direct competitor to you and should have a policy of informing you of any future potential conflicts of interest.
  • Measurement: This is quite possibly the single most important element. What measurements will the agency use to evaluate the PR campaign? Will they work to specific targets, and do these relate to your business goals? Or do they just offer rather vague commitments about where they can get coverage? You should also look at how frequently they will report progress against objectives, as this will be crucial in establishing whether the campaign has been a success or not.

These are the key elements to selecting the right PR agency for your campaign, in our view. If you have other factors you feel should be added to this list, I’d love to hear from you at catherine@theinfluencecrowd.co.uk.

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