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Pet Product News Editorial Blog:

Friday, September 25, 2009

The Quality of Awards

By Sherri Collins

Editor, Pet Product News International

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Unless you’re one of those who shun any and all forms of public attention, most people like receiving awards, be it for a job well done, an idea well thought or a race well run. Awards publicly acknowledge a person’s accomplishments. They’re a tangible form of being told, “You rock!” Moreover, awards also have an equally cool “flip” side.

Like the quality of mercy expounded on by Portia in Shakespeare’s play “The Merchant of Venice,” the quality of awards is also “twice blessed.” Awards not only “bless” those who receive them, but also those who present them. I was happily reminded of that quality at the 2009 SuperZoo, where Jaime McLendon (my senior associate editor) and I received multiple “blessings” while delivering our Editors’ Choice Award plaques to the winners who were exhibiting at the show.

Even though the awards announcement occurred nearly two months earlier, everyone expressed delight when we presented his or her inscribed award. It was a concrete representation of not only the product’s excellence, but of the industry’s acknowledgement of that excellence—plus, it made for a great show-off piece to display to every visitor to the booth.

I don’t know if it actually manifested on the outside, but I was certainly glowing on the inside with the warmth of thanks we received from the happy recipients. I’ve both received and given out the occasional award before--and felt the requisite “love”--but presenting awards 17 times* in one day was an exceptional experience. It made my day—and my week. Being able to acknowledge and honor someone else’s hard work and dedication to an ideal or principle is an awesome thing. And hearing their stories of how they got to where they are today was both moving and inspiring. The Naked City has nothing on the myriad pet-industry stories waiting to be told.

Which brings me back to the dual quality of awards. It’s great to garner awards, but it’s equally so to give them to others. Every community has those whose accomplishments go unrecognized. As pet-product retailers, you could help lessen those numbers by creating pet-related awards for worthy recipients. It doesn’t take much: a simple plaque or certificate; a lunch or open house; an announcement in the store window and/or local newspapers; and a gift certificate or product donation to the winners.

Is there a Boy or Girl Scout Troop in your area that merits attention for their work with companion animals? How about an FFA or 4-H group or individual who’s gone the extra mile in working with animals? Does your community have a local shelter that deserves added recognition? Or is there a particular business in your area that is proactively pet friendly? If you’ve answered yes to any of these, consider starting an award program. By singling out deserving people, you’ll not only be acknowledging (and fostering) excellence, but you’ll also be helping the pet industry as a whole (by promoting companion-animal care) and at the same time, you’ll gain valuable community exposure (a little positive PR goes a long way). Think about it; the rewards you receive for doing so will be more than worth it.

*Note: The remaining 14 Editors’ Choice Award recipients will either receive their plaques at the H.H. Backer Christmas Show or if location permits, at their place of business.

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