While organic media coverage is always the goal, there are so many other PR strategies that you can use to give your brand the spotlight. Tons of magazines, e-retailers and thought leaders host annual award competitions that brands can apply for. While the rules vary from one competition to the next, many require brands to submit specific products or people for consideration.
While there are never any guarantees (hey, that’s the beauty of PR, isn’t it?!), it’s a massive win if your brand lands a spot on one of these lists, especially since it’s often backed by approval from experts in the given field. Some awards, like Allure’s Best of Beauty Awards, even give products a seal, giving them a level of credibility that can’t be achieved elsewhere.
Here, we’ve rounded up the ten best award competitions for brands, highlighting the best products and most prominent trailblazers in beauty, home, fitness, food and other major product categories. Plus, find out exactly what you need to know before applying, so you can prepare your fees and submission materials well in advance.
For the past 17 years, Glamour has highlighted the very best in makeup, skincare, hair and nails as part of their annual beauty awards. Their judges — a mix of Glamour editors, influencers and experts — spend hours testing thousands of products, both long-time holy grail items and new innovative releases. As they sort through serums, lipsticks, hair oils and other makeup bag staples, they rely on their readers for input, opening up the polls and including reader votes in their final tallies. In the end, the awards highlight more than 250 skincare, haircare and makeup standouts. The awards drop in late March, both in print and online.
Allure puts the power in their reader's hands during the annual Allure Readers Choice Awards. Early in the year, they put out a call to their readers, asking them to gush about the products they can’t live without — the makeup remover that can actually handle their waterproof mascara, the red lipstick that doesn’t smudge under their mask, the hand lotion that restores their dry winter skin and so much more. Allure announces the winners in May, giving each and every product the coveted seal that’s recognizable in beauty aisles everywhere. FYI: The Reader’s Choice Awards is done ahead of Allure’s Best of Beauty Awards, which gives brands the option to submit their products for review.
Good Housekeeping taps their in-house experts in home, cleaning, textiles, beauty, nutrition, technology and food to test submitted products for a gamut of awards: the Good Housekeeping Fitness Awards, Storage Awards, Beauty Awards, Best New Family Car Awards, Bedding Awards, Healthy Snack Awards, Parenting Awards, Cleaning Awards, Sustainable Innovation Awards, Toy Awards and Kitchen Gear Awards. There are specific guidelines for each competition, but many require a proper submission and payment fee to be considered. Keep in mind that any products that currently hold the Good Housekeeping Seal or are current or past award winners are automatically considered and don’t need to enter or pay a fee.
People gives their favorite supermarket staples (and, okay, impulse buys) a time to shine in their annual Food Awards. The editors are the experts, eating, drinking and cooking more than 2,000 grocery store buys to nail down 75 winners. No product category goes untouched from the best bagels (FYI, hit up Aldi) to the best cake mix. It’s hard to tell if they release the awards at the same time each year, but the 2021 Awards were published in print and online in late June.
In their annual Healthy Beauty Awards, SELF focuses on efficacy and innovation. First, they sort through thousands of product submissions following the guidance of their dermatologist-and-dentist board. Then they send products to 65 judges with various skin types, hair types, skin conditions, and skin concerns for two months of testing. After the two months are up, SELF editors review the judges' scores (a simple scale of 1 to 100) and written feedback to determine the winners. The result: a list of hundreds of good-for-you products, ranging from ultra-creamy eye creams to oral care products.
As part of their annual Tastemaker Awards, the online furniture and home retailer spotlight the interior designers who make their products really pop. The designs are reviewed by a panel of judges, a mix of interior designers (including previous Tastemaker Awards winners) and magazine editors in the home space. Featuring a mix of residential and commercial properties, the winners tackle major renovations, colorful upgrades and outdoor makeovers.
Let’s not forget about the men in our lives: Each fall, Esquire releases their annual Grooming Awards, full of face, hair, body, shaving, fragrance and oral products made with guys in mind. Featured both online and in print, the awards show what their editors are really loving (and actually using), along with a few must-haves from famous faces like singer Leon Bridges and Saturday Night Live star Bowen Yang.
Sometimes, it’s not just about the food you eat; it’s about the people who put the food on your table. Unlike some other food-focused awards, EatingWell calls out leaders in the food space, including farmers, corporate executives, doctors, advocates and chefs. Published in their July/August issue each year, the list of 10 Food Heros is centered on those “who are committed to making a difference on the biggest food, sustainability and nutrition issues of today.” This year’s list includes Beth Ford, president and CEO of Land O'Lakes; Food Network star Guy Fieri; and Birgit Cameron, co-founder and head of Patagonia Provisions.
Together, the Real Simple editors whittle down hundreds of product submissions to name the 31 (give or take) best beauty products on the market. Their list is relatively short, sweet and to the point, so readers don’t have to sift through dozens of winners in a given category to find their new go-to. Some years the awards are more significant than others (2021 had 31 winners, but 2020 had 50), but you can count on it being announced in February each year, both online and in print.
If there’s anyone who knows their way around the gym, it’s the editors at Women’s Health. Throughout the year, they test different exercise machines, workout gear, activewear, virtual workout programs, smart devices to figure out the 75 products that’ll kick your workouts up a notch. You’ll notice that the products range in price and functionality, spanning from home gym staples to gear that you can take with you to your next cycling class. The winners are announced in November, just before your new year, stronger you mindset kicks in. PSST: Men’s Health holds a similar award competition each year, often releasing the results in early spring.