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VALENTINE CONTEST First Prize: $250.00 Second Prize $100.00 Terrific Third Prizes: Free ebooks, etc.* How to play: Contest runs from January 14 through February 14. Visit each of the author's links below and find their game piece, which...
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Award Competitions: Route to a Publicity Bonanza

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Inc. magazine is currently in the process of judging sites for its annual
small business Web award winners. Since I was a judge last year, I thought
I'd offer some observations on how and why to enter your Web site for
prestigious awards like this.

First, there were less than 800 entrants in six categories. If we
eliminate entrants that were clearly not ready for serious consideration
(rampant misspellings, garish color schemes, unfunctional links, no
business focus), you may have had a one in 50 chance of winning -- and
much, much higher odds in certain categories.

Second, it's essential to read the entry instructions carefully. Every
question or item asked for in the instructions is there for a reason, and
you run the risk of disqualification if you don't provide all the requested

In the case of the Inc. awards, some excellent sites were removed from the
running because they did not answer the questions asked in the entry
procedure. Even after being e-mailed for more information, they still did
not address the questions. I couldn't tell whether they did this because
the answers might not have placed them in a favorable light or because they
had a cavalier attitude toward the judging and thought they could set their
own terms for the competition.

Third, for a Web site award, make sure you don't schedule a site upgrade
during the judging period. This happened in more than one instance,
believe it or not. A couple of companies that might have won were
eliminated from the running because their sites weren't available at all
during the week that the judges were viewing the finalists. Inc. bent over
backwards to give sites a second chance when judges complained they
couldn't access some finalists. Even so, this factor knocked a couple of
promising candidates out of the picture.

Fourth, take your own competence seriously. The sole proprietor category
was sorely lacking in quality entrants, and if you had entered a site that
was clear, functional, readable, decent-looking and businesslike, you could
very well have had an excellent shot to win.

According to Anne Stuart, senior writer for Inc., material about their
awards is among the most-read stuff at their Web site throughout the year,
with awesome click-throughs to the winning sites. The only cost of
entering this sort of competition for such a publicity bonanza is the
effort required to submit a considered and complete entry.

Adds Dan Janal, author of several books on publicity and founder of PR
Leads, "You will get mindshare from the judges, who are very important,
influential people who could write about your company or tell their
audiences in speeches. I know -- I've judged many contests and have found
many interesting companies as a result."

Remember this the next time you spot an announcement for an award
competition. A blue-ribbon credential -- and attention from the media and
the public -- may be closer than you would assume.

About the Author

Marcia Yudkin is the author of the classic PR guide,
Six Steps to Free Publicity, and 10 other books. You can learn more about
her new special report, Powerful, Painless Online Publicity, at


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