And the winner is…

Photograph: Fiona, Cathy and Jo at the Brighton and Hove Business Awards 2016

By Cathy Hayward

We’re very good at coaching clients through the awards process. We spend weeks every year writing award entries which tell our clients’ story in the best possible light, creating presentations to wow the judges and then holding their hand on the awards night ready to pop open the fizz or whip out a hanky. We are always super-prepared for whatever happens. Press releases and PR plans are timed to be sent out and put into action the minute a client is announced as the winner – or assigned to the trash folder if they don’t make the podium.

Which makes it all the more extraordinary that when Magenta won the Professional Services Firm of the Year award last week, we were fabulously unprepared. Not just in practical terms – there was no press release waiting in the wings – but emotionally.

We had just got off a flight from Barcelona from our team away day, done a quick change and were ready with our ‘congratulations to the other winners’ faces when the evening’s host read out Magenta Associates as the winner. My colleague Jo was filming the moment as they read out our name and the picture abruptly changes as the camera drops to the table and the three of us dash to the stage, grins stretched across our faces. The rest of the evening is a bit of a blur, and that’s not just because of the celebratory bottle of fizz we bought afterwards. There were winners photos and a video (gulp) taken, and much toasting of each other as an award-winning company. When I woke up the next day, my face still aching from all the smiling the night before, the first thing I saw was the trophy on my bedside table. Even my teenage son managed something more than a grunt when he saw it – and spotted Magenta on the front page of the local paper the following day.

We’ve done all the right things since – sent out a press release, told all our clients, shared the news across social media, taken out adverts in the local press, and added the winners logo to all our promotional material. But what we’ve learned from the experience is that you can never be fully prepared for winning an award. The rush of emotion as the host reads out your name, and you are recognised as the best in that category, is something that is hard to put into words, and almost impossible to prepare for.

We have several clients up for awards in the next couple of months and I hope the experience of winning this award will help us to help them if they’re fortunate enough to be accepting theirs in a few weeks’ time.

Ben Keeley