In the small business world, there’s always a handful of business contests and competitions going on. Some offer cash prizes, while others simply offer the glory of being recognized as an award-winning company. Even if you don’t win, entering contests like these can be great PR fodder.

Simply being accepted as an applicant for a business competition is press release worthy. Often, the contest will aggregate all mention of its event on the contest website or Twitter stream, which means your press release gets in front of more eyeballs. You can also tweet about your involvement in a contest, as well as share the news through your social media and bookmarking channels.

Cashing in On the Real Prize

If you happen to win (runner up counts as winning!), the real prize isn’t what they hand you on stage; it’s the press you can get as a result. Start with your own efforts, and make sure you put out a release as soon as you can publicly announce that you won. But also check with the contest administrators to find out what press they plan to offer. Larger industry events, like MobileBeat, often get covered by well-known industry sites. Even if all you get is the mention of your company name, it’s a huge win, for media exposure.

If you have the bandwidth and interest, reach out to these industry sites and offer an interview in conjunction with the announcement on the contest winners. Provide some value in your pitch, like offering your “secrets” to winning the contest.

Tell Everybody

Winning a contest is newsworthy, so make sure to post an announcement on your company blog, website, email newsletter and social media channels. If you have a media kit, include a link to the press release.

This is especially important if you will be seeking investors, as they look for companies that have received recognition in their industry as an indicator of success. Even if it’s a local Chamber of Commerce award, wear it proudly!

Putting in Elbow Grease

When you read the requirements for some competitions, especially those in the software and tech industries, the list is often daunting. And it should be. If all contests were easy to enter, you’d have much more competition. As it is, these requirements serve as barriers to entry. And while they require more work on your part, completing the paperwork and application process correctly can already put you ahead of the competition.

Take time to proofread your application thoroughly, and make sure you’ve completed each requirement to a T. There’s nothing worse than entering a competition only to realize you had a typo or didn’t read the instructions correctly. You’ve wasted time and probably put yourself out of the running as a result of your inattention.

Entering contests make a great addition to your marketing strategy. Keep on top of current contests by subscribing to ITMemo and Small Business Trends, which list contests and their deadlines each week.