I’ve never thought much about awards. They can often be cheesy or, worse, superficial: My kindergartner recently came home with his first award recognizing him for “demonstrating strong character and responsibility.” My husband and I were so proud! Proud, that is, until we found out that every kid in the class took home the same award. But on March 27, in a crowded ballroom in New York, I found myself sitting at the Jesse H. Neal Awards ceremony anxiously waiting for an announcer to reveal the winner for Best Technical Content. My team members back home were glued to their computer screens, waiting for me to send real-time updates. Wanting to put them out of their misery as soon as possible, I readied an email titled “We won!” and waited, finger poised over the “Send” button, hoping I didn’t just jinx it.

You see, for the trade press, the Neals are a big deal. Often called “the Pulitzer Prize of business media,” the awards program recognizes editorial excellence in business-to-business publications across all media platforms. The competition for this highly sought-after honor is fierce: This year, there were more than 700 entries in 22 categories, with a final tally of just 52 winners.

Our entry this year was a two-part series that focused on designing and engineering artificial rock. Written by Rebecca Robledo under the oversight of former editorial director Erika Taylor, the series explained the technical skills required to create the two main classifications of faux rock — glass fiber reinforced concrete rock and hand-sculpted rock — in precise detail, from planning through finishing touches. An engaging layout by graphic designer Nick Orabovic no doubt helped cinch our position as a finalist.

While some awards certainly are meaningless, others carry great significance, celebrating hard work, creativity and teamwork. The pool and spa industry has many such awards, including our own Top 50 Builders and Masters of Design. I encourage everyone to enter because there’s no greater feeling than to be recognized for your accomplishments.

So it was in that spirit that I waited nervously for our category to be announced on that cold March afternoon.

“And the winner for Best Technical Content goes to ... Pool & Spa News!” I jubilantly pressed “Send” on my email before jumping up and floating to the podium, imagining the cheers of my team as I accepted our award.