Tips from an ex-professional contestant (yes, that’s me!)

Professional contestant? Is that what they’re calling it now? Yup. I’ve been on the other side — the side that actually runs the contests and talks to the parties involved that make it all possible. I also do some social media management and well — and a lot of the same names come out every time brands hold contests.

Animetric the Contest Addict

I have nothing against contest addicts. More than five years ago, I was one so I understand them more than you think. Facebook was just starting out and there weren’t too many people or brands on it so I would stalk magazines, newspapers, posters I’d see in malls and other public places, TVCs, company websites… and I would join everything. Most of them were writing and photography related contests. I wasn’t blogging then but I already liked to write and take pictures so they were right up my alley.

I would win. I would win a lot. I kept an Excel file of the prizes I would win in a year with their corresponding value and I remember logging a total of maybe P400k worth of prizes for 2008. That was the year I won an international writing and photography contest (it was open to the whole of Southeast Asia and Australia) conducted by the Discovery Channel and the Singapore Tourism Board. I won a 5 days 4 nights all expense paid trip to Singapore for four where our family got to shoot a TVC which ran for several months on the Discovery Channel. We stayed at a 5-star hotel — Mandarin Oriental Marina Bay and we were given pocket money too. We got to go to all the top tourist destinations for free to boot. It was the crowning glory of my contest career.

Animetric the Contest Addict
Big or small contest, I was relentless. I joined and I joined.
Animetric the Contest Addict
I really have a penchant for writing. I won Philstar’s My Favorite Book contest three years in a row, lol. I would join and win once a year.

Animetric the Contest Addict
When SM held a writing contest, I won it too.
Animetric the Contest Addict

I can’t cook to save my life but that didn’t stop me from joining a recipe contest… using my grandmother’s recipe. My grandma is and always will be the best cook ever.

I was such an addict. It was really a career. I spent ALL of my free time joining contests and I reaped the rewards for all my efforts. Would you believe I had managed to win all models of the iPod back in the day? From iPod Mini, iPod Shuffle, iPod Nano, to iPod Touch.

Come 2009 I started regularly contributing to magazines and blogging so I quit cold turkey. These days I rarely join contests. I just don’t have the time and the inclination anymore. I had a good run and that’s enough for me.

So anyway, now that I’m pretty much off the scene and spending more time on the other side, let me share some tips… things I’ve learned from spending time on both sides of the contest circuit:

  1. Always follow the mechanics. Read it. Understand it. Re-read it and make sure you didn’t miss anything. If it says submit your entry inside a pink envelope you do it. Most of the time, entries which fail to follow the mechanics to the letter will not be picked because it will be like opening a can of worms. It can be contested. You won’t believe how vigilant contest joiners can get and if you award the prize to an entry which failed to follow one simple step like tagging or whatever, all hell will break loose — and rightfully so because it would not be fair to those who followed the rules.
  2. Be reasonable. Don’t ask about winners when the contest deadline hasn’t been reached or if the contest just ended. Now is the era of Facebook, Twitter, and e-mail so you can easily contact whoever is holding the contest. Personally I get pissed off when people ask me who won MINUTES or HOURS after the contest ended… especially if the winner is to be determined by judging. Hold your horses and wait for the announcement.
  3. If several bloggers are holding the same contest and it’s not a raffle, don’t submit the same entry to everyone. Better yet, I suggest creating a super bonggacious entry that you feel a specific blogger will like and careerin mo siya at siya lang. If several of us are holding the same contest for something big, like the recently concluded Samsung Galaxy Mega giveaway, we don’t want to come up with duplicate winners because we want to spread the joy around as much as possible so if you joined everyone’s contest, it actually lessens your chances of winning because we’ll think… oh no what if the other bloggers pick him or her too…?
  4. Make sure you provide accurate information. Sometimes you actually win something but because you can’t be contacted it’s awarded to someone else. Put in an e-mail address you actually check or a phone number where you can actually be reached if that is what’s asked for.
  5. A lot of entities have this philosophy of giving chance to others (magazines, brands, etc.) so if your name comes out all too often it also affects your chances in a negative way. I suggest choosing your battles wisely. Let’s say Brand X is giving away a P1,000 GC to the best answer. You join and you win. The next time Brand X decides to give away an iPod or something of greater value to the best answer, it will most probably go to someone else. Small prizes are usually inconsequential. It’s the big ones that people are more careful with.
  6. Don’t be greedy. There have been numerous instances (especially on FB) where a brand will give away say 100 sets of products to the first 100 who do something like answer a question or fill up a form. OMG. There are actually people who go home 20 sets of products because they have like 20 accounts or something. Yes, even newborn babies who can’t type have accounts now. I won’t be surprised if hamsters have accounts next time. No one will admit it (hey, it’s bad PR!) but doing something like this will most probably land you on the brand’s blacklist. Maybe even several brands’ lists. Word about stunts like this gets around you know. On the flipside, I think brands should adapt the US way, including a fine print indicating one set per household only… something like that.
  7. Don’t spam. Flooding the social networking timelines of the people holding the contests make you a nuisance. They will probably not be very happy about your entries if they fill up their entire account.

I hope this is helpful. Contests are fun and rewarding but as in everything we do, always keep it within reason. 🙂

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