Sword and the Script

Creative PR ideas: contests

text contest

by Frank Strong

Contests can be among the most creative PR ideas — and they can drive great coverage. Two such ideas that crossed my radar this week were LG’s National Texting Championship and Blogger’s upcoming 10 year birthday celebration.

What I found interesting is that these ideas have earned coverage in (mostly) two separate channels:

Traditional media. LG’s event has happened, the event itself is what drove the most impressive coverage. I first learned of LG’s event on a CNN broadcast and have observed additional coverage in a wide range of outlets including MSNBC.com, a Yahoo! News syndication of an AP piece, the UPI, and ABCnews.com.

Social media. By contrast, I first learned of Blogger’s contest on Twitter because I follow the @Google handle. A tweet, which read, “What’s your story? Help us celebrate Blogger’s upcoming 10th birthday http://bit.ly/16iWHe” has been retweeted more than 90 times at current count according to Backtweets and has had astounding echoes in the blogosphere. A Google search for “Blogger is turning 10″ turns up an nearly 6 million references.

LG’s event is geared towards a traditional media relations style event, while Blogger leans heavy on social media and the contest announcement alone has driven coverage. Moreover, Blogger’s contest is about blogging so expect to see many more posts in the days to come. Both contests have some underlying themes:

Timely. Both are about communication vehicles and texting and social media are both headline drawing topics these days. Both events have received broad coverage despite a very busy national news cycle among events in IranTwitterNorth Korea, the healthcare debate and the economy and related government intervention.

Newsworthy. Sure LG sponsored the texting event…so what? It’s interesting. The rate and intensity at which 13-year-old Morgan Pozgar typed “supercalifragilisticexpialidocious” on her phone is absolutely astounding. Both of these events defy expectations.

Fact or numbers driven. Blogger’s got facts that are captivating: “Every minute of every day, 270,000 words are written on Blogger.” For LG, about 250,000 people entered their contest, and though I have not examined it closely, I’m willing to bet local coverage of the texting “playoffs” was equally dramatic. For PR types, think of the last time you pitched a survey…how many people participated in that? 250? Adding three zeros is an amazing level of participation.

Contests are a great way to create ideas, but not every contest will be a winner. The best contests are tied in to a trend or are fascinating enough in their own right to merit coverage. What are some of the better (or worse) contest ideas you’ve seen?

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:
PR lesson: a picture’s worth a thousand words
Sales leads from social media: experiment turns thriving community

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