Submitting & Winning an Industry Award

It almost seems cost prohibitive to spend money for a chance to win an industry award that is just a one time deal.

I have heard from many of my associates in the industry that they just can’t afford to invest in it. Actually, it is an investment that is worthwhile. The rewards you gain for winning an industry award are irreplaceable. And like anything else, you have to play to win, right? You can’t win the lottery without buying a ticket. Even just having submit an award in our industry, to win or not, has many perks that actually end up enhancing your business.

-Eye catching photographs show off the hard work put into each job.

Many times we are so busy running the business, we forget what it takes to promote it. And one important item overlooked by many in our industry is having our jobs professionally shot. This forces you to hire a professional photographer to take great pictures of your work. Which not only can you use for the awards entry, but for social media and on your websites. It’s a win win! Again it’s an investment but well worth it. Awards are no different and require you to promote yourself as an industry professional.

Awards also show your client the professionalism, dedication and knowledge you have in your industry. Deciding to take part in an award makes you think outside the box and forces you to step up to design your best work. It also shows your team you are at the top of your game; as well as shows off their work which makes everyone proud. The atmosphere around the office becomes fun and gives team members something to share with family and colleagues. Vendors are acknowledged that goes a long way to create fabulous long-term relationships.

Follow the directions the awards give you and select an excellent job as your showpiece. Chances are you will walk away with an award. A key factor in picking a job to submit for an award is to choose a job that photographs well. Here are some tips for photographing your job.

  • Choose smaller areas to photograph. Some large jobs are too spread out and don’t photograph well. For those instances, we reposition the plants just for the shoot.
  • Be sure you read and adhere to the rules for submitting your job. They are quite strict and you could miss a photo requirement.
  • Never submit a photo with your logo in the shot.
  • Start photographing well in advance to the submittal deadline. There are several steps to a photographic shoot which takes time to prepare, submit and get back.
  • Most of all have fun with it.

-One key to winning is choosing jobs that photograph well.

It’s also a great time to reflect on all the hard work you did to get the job done. Sometimes I feel as though we don’t take those special moments to congratulate ourselves or our team on a great job, it’s always on to the next job. Take the time to reflect on any mistakes; as well as discuss the good points go ahead and pat yourself on the back for a job well done. Giving your vendors a pat as well does a world of good since they are part of the team that helps you on the job. It’s a win, win for all!


-Julie and Mark Farrow of Plantscapers receive awards for several of their submitted work.

Ok, now for the best part. You won! Well this is where the fun begins. It’s not really just about winning the award and hanging it on your wall after you return from the conference. Being acknowledged in front of your peers has been proven to be the #1 reason people submit. Studies prove we like this type of acknowledgement and it brings on a celebratory atmosphere! You’ll also see what others submitted to spur new design ideas to take back to your team. And just being there brings more respect within your industry peers.

I also believe with an award, opportunity waits just around the corner. Take advantage of your win by ordering extra plaques to give to the client, vendor and architect and/or designer if they were involved in the award-winning job. Present it in a very special way, maybe a champagne celebration after work which is what we did to our client. We asked if we could bring some bubbly over and present them with their plaque. They were so appreciative and we had so much fun doing it! We captured it all on pictures and sent them off via social media.

-Receiving an award needs to be shared by everyone involved in the project.

Posting photos of both receiving and presenting the awards on social media is a win-win for all. By tagging the companies involved along with your company exposes you to many eyes and helps bring awareness about your company. And don’t forget about tagging your vendors, who certainly always appreciate a thank you.

Celebrations aside, the next step is to write a press release for the local media. They love local success stories of businesses and the award could get picked up for a story which means even more free publicity for your company. Even if the story doesn’t get picked up, always share your success with your team, no matter how large or small. Go ahead, and make it a big deal. Have lunch with them and show what you won and all the photos of the design the helped create. Your team will be proud to be part of a company that is on the cutting edge of today’s trends and technology. They will express their pride to the client to create a stronger connection with their work, client and promote longevity with team members on the job.

Awards have so many benefits and worth the effort and time put into it. But it must be all taken as a fun, creative way to show all involved in your business what a great job they do. And for you it’s a way to take a deep breath and know all the long days and hard work and interactions with people is not all in vain. It’s what life in our industry is really all about, the satisfaction of a job well done.


Julie Davis Farrow is the CEO and founder of Plantscapers, Inc, an award winning interior plantscaper company located in Southern California. She is an active member of numerous trade associations, including Green Plants for Green Buildings and is also a registered speaker trained by GPGB to present “Authentically Green Interiors: Optimizing Nature’s Design.” To learn more about Julie and Plantscapers, Inc. visit

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