The Internet is a great place for making public announcements, spreading a message fast, making contact with people from all over the world. The Internet is a useful tool for almost every occasion, so why not use it while organizing your next international contest?
In this article we go through the most important aspects of organizing a successful international contest with the help of the web.
So, how do you organize successful international contests?
Make a website
You must create an official website for your contest. It is the only way of going international and making your contest truly available to everyone.
It’s great if you already have created the official website, but is it designed good? Is it easy to use? Is it useful? Think about it. Think of the official website of your international contest, as an official website of a commercial product. Provide important information and tell the world what you’re offering. Create eye-candy. Don’t hesitate to hire professionals to get the job done.
The official website of your international contest is the single most important starting point for the contestants, so the easier it is for them to get your instructions, the bigger the chances for you to get high quality entries.
Create a media kit
Even though the official website of your contest is the most important starting point for the contestants, it doesn’t mean that they will discover the contest through the official website. There are many great news portals and blogs online, that will share information about your contest, so you should be prepared for this.
Why not make it easier for the media? Publish a media kit.
A media kit consists of pre-packaged collection of promotional materials for the press and usually combines written and graphical materials. You can be sure that the media will appreciate it if you can provide:
- a logotype (of the contest or the organizer of the contest)
- a press release (call for entries, call for applications, request for proposals etc.)
- some other promotional graphics (official poster, web banners, blog badges etc.)
Don’t skip this part, since it will make the promotion of your international contest a lot easier and less time consuming. The bigger your media kit is, the better the chances that you get featured on relevant news websites and blogs.
Use social media
Twitter and Facebook can make your contest a lot more popular and that’s why you need to consider using them. It may be a little more time consuming, taking care of several social profiles at once, but you should look on the bright side – it’s a lot of fun. It gets even better when you start getting feedback from contestants or random fans, that want to help and spread the word about your contest.
StumbleUpon, Digg, Delicios, Reddit, use all of these websites and reach your audience.
But be careful! It’s very easy to cross the line and turn the news about your contest into spam. Don’t just publish news on every social media out there. Try to benefit from the unique features of these websites.
Choose the right audience
You must know your audience. That’s the single most important aspect of organizing an international contest. Your contest won’t be successful if you don’t set a target.
Who is eligible to enter? Does you contest have an age limit? Is your contest truly international, or are there countries in which it is considered to be illegal?
Make sure you have all the details and make sure you present them to your audience.
Publish official terms and conditions
Choosing the right audience is very important, but it’s only a segment of the big picture – the official terms and conditions of your international contest. This is the core of your contest, so you better make it tough.
You need to specify every aspect of your contest. When does the contest start? When does it end? How should the entries be submitted – digitally of by traditional mail? How many entries per contestant are allowed? What does an entry consist of? What happens with the entry materials after the contest? Who owns the copyright of the winning entries?
Get into details. Be as thorough as possible. The more details you include in your official rules the smaller the chances you receive faulty entries and inappropriate submissions.
And remember, you don’t change the official terms and conditions once you publish them. You must be a fair player if you want your contest to be successful. The moment you start changing official rules you loose your contestants’ trust.
Make a FAQ
Some contestants may get confused by some of the official rules. That’s when they start to look for less official and more descriptive explanations to their uncertainties. They look for the FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions) list.
It doesn’t matter if you’re organizing an annual or your first ever international contest. You should make it easier on yourself and your team, and take the time to prepare a FAQ list. By doing this, you spare yourself some time in the future.
Prepare a FAQ list for your contest and you won’t have to worry about constantly answering similar e-mail questions. The most frequent questions will already be answered in your FAQ list.
If you start getting e-mails with similar questions even though you have a long FAQ list, it may be a sign that you need to update you FAQ list and spare some more time in the future.
The good thing about the FAQ list is, that it can constantly be updated.
Be available for quick info
So now that you have provided information about the official terms and conditions of your contest and a list of FAQ, you can finally settle down and take a rest. Your job is done and the contest will take care of itself adapting to various situations. Well, not really.
No matter how self-explanatory your resources are, it’s almost impossible that there won’t be any additional questions from your contestants. That’s why you need to be available, to receive and answer their questions.
You’ll most certainly need a separate e-mail address that will be reserved for additional questions. You can create a special forum for your contest and make it an excellent addition to the FAQ list. You can also use social networks to provide feedback to your contestants. If you like, you can even create live chat and provide instant answers to your contestants.
It’s up to you to choose the appropriate ways of communication. The good thing is you have plenty of different choices.
Set a winners announcement date and stick to it
If your contest has a strictly defined winners announcement date, you don’t have the liberty to be late with the announcement. It’s just not professional to be late. And if you’re not professional, how can you and your contest be successful?
If you want to have a respected international contest, you must finish your tasks on time and go public with the results, the moment you said you will. People will remember your good discipline and in the next edition of your contest, they will show greater interest. The greater the interest from the contestants, the greater the chances of your contest becoming successful.
Remember to display the official winners announcement date in a highly visible place on the contests’ website. It’s a common practice to have the deadline and the winners announcement date displayed in a same place on the official website.
Organize a special event for the awards
If you want to make the official announcement of winners special, organize an awards event and plan a unique ceremony. This way you will gain great publicity. Also you will have a chance to share your publicity with the people that made your contest a success.
Organizing events can be very time consuming so you will need a great team. Hire an agency, hire someone that has the capacity to organize memorable, fun and one of a kind events. If your awards ceremony is attractive, many companies will see interest in being present to it. The more sponsors your contest has, the better the prizes you can offer. The better the prizes you offer, the greater the number of entries, submitted to your contest. The greater the number of entries, the better the choice you’ll have in selecting a winner.
Make the announcement of the awards ceremony through the official website of your contest. Publish an official press release and spread it on the web with the help of social media and news websites.
The awards ceremony is usually the last activity you need to take before you lay down and rest for days or even weeks. You’ll wake-up late, you’ll watch the Twilight Zone all day long, you’ll StumbleUpon for hours. Though it sounds very tempting you need to restrain yourself and think of the future of your contest for a few more days. You can instantly kill the spring and bring dark clouds over your entire effort if you don’t stop thinking only about yourself.
Remember the awards ceremony? Remember the photographers, the flashes, the publicity, the winners? Well, you may remember all of that, but what about the people that weren’t present to the extravaganza? Don’t you think they deserve to know what they missed?
You usually end a contest with an official press release. You state the winners, you attach some pictures of important people (maybe even from yourself), you most certainly show the winning entries, you publish a complete gallery of the awards event. If you organized an international contest with lots of great entries, you should display the most interesting entries on the official website after the contest is over.
Once the contest is really over, people will like to know what’s the next thing you’re preparing. So why don’t you tell them? This might be the perfect moment for you to announce the next edition of your contest. It may seem too early for making promises that you might not be able to keep, but no one asks for the details right away. At this phase, you only need to tease. So, tease!