Launching a Successful Contest

Contests are a fun way to develop a company’s brand, create relationships with users or celebrate a company milestone. So, what do contests have to do with public relations and what does it take to garner publicity from your contest? Putting together a contest is one of the best ways to get your company publicity for little to no cost, though the contest must be clever enough for the media to cover it. Contests are also full of public relations activities such as writing press releases, pitching the contest to media (if it is unique), writing letters and website copy. Like many public relations campaigns, the best place to develop ideas is in a brainstorming session. Sit down with your department and discuss why your company or client should have a contest, outline the goal of the contest and brainstorm ideas for unique contests.

A warning—contests are not easy to put together. There are many things that a public relations practitioner must do for a contest to be successful. Here is a contest time-line that my internship supervisor gave to me:

1. Brainstorm with your department
-Have your colleagues bring in contest ideas. After the brainstorming session pick the best idea and create a presentation for corporate officers, or your client.

2. Make sure corporate officers or clients support the contest
-If you cannot gain their support, there is no way you are going to create a contest.

3. Discuss the contest with legal and decide how you are going to pick a winner
-There is no way of getting around it! You must have legal go through a copy of the contest and create terms and conditions, so that contest participants will not sue your client or company. Once you have addressed legal issues and discussed the contest with corporate officers, you are well on your way to launching the contest website.

4. Decide how you are going to pick a winner
-Will you do a random drawing for a sweepstakes-style contest, or will you read through entries for your story-style contest?
5. Create simple, engaging entry copy for the website, social media sites and email newsletters
-These are not the only outlets you have to promote the contest. There are other cost-effective alternatives such as creating contest entry fliers to hand out on college campuses.

6. Document entries
-A good way to do this is to set up a folder in your email. Also, for written contests, it is best to go through entries weekly and pick out potential winners.

7. Find a winner, announce the winner and evaluate the contest
-Write the winner to tell them they won your contest, announce the winner on the contest website, post their story, use social media to announce the winner and evaluate the contest. Finally, if the contest was successful, will you do it again?

An example of a creative, successful contest:

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Kurie Fitzgerald.

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