At first glance, being invited to participate in a contest doesn’t really sound like a bad deal. I’ve actually applied for and sometimes participated in contests. But that was before I knew better.
Now, not all contests are bad or wrong. Sometimes, the opportunity is too great to pass up (I’m talking to you, SAM-e Good Mood Blogger). Sometimes, the prizes are simply amazing (hello, Mercedes-Benz Tweet Race). But more often than not, the contest doesn’t have a whole lot to offer a blogger except for a lot of free PR work.
If you are being pitched a contest, you better make sure you read all the fine print and then think about whether or not the opportunity is really a good one for the amount of work (and sometimes begging and pleading for votes) that goes along with it.
Here’s a recent pitch that someone forwarded to me along with my thoughts, as always:
Email subject line: Congratulations – You’ve Been Nominated for the (Website Promotion) Blogger Competition!
Hi (blogger name),
My name is (company rep name) and I’m reaching out to share the good news – you’ve been selected for (website’s) first annual (Website Promotion) blogger showdown!
As you may already know, (website) is the internet’s premier source for (things that aren’t relevant to the pitch). For the first time, we’re putting bloggers head to head in a March Madness style tournament to compete to find the best (things) and win some pretty amazing prizes. We’ve been busy scouting out some top bloggers to participate in this event and we think (blog name) is a great fit!
What’s in it for you?
1st Place Prize – A trip for two to LAS VEGAS, including $500 towards your stay at (Hotel), 2 free tickets to a show of your choice, 3 guest blogging spots on our blog, and bragging rights!
2nd Place Prize – A brand new iPad 3.
All Participants – A minimum of $25 to shop with and a (website) t-shirt.
For the full details on this contest, please consult our (Website Promotion) guidelines, which can be found here: (link removed).
Only 16 bloggers can participate in this event and we will fill our slots on a first-come, first serve basis, so please respond to me quickly if you are interested in competing or if you have any questions.
I hope to hear from you soon!
(company rep name) & the (website) team
- The pitch is personalized with the blogger’s name and the name of the blog.
- Everybody gets something just for playing along.
- The rep is definitely enthusiastic about the promotion.
- It feels like an award even before you agree to do anything!
- Formatting!! This may be my pet peeve but when you’re working in an electronic environment, using an underline usually implies a link, which is not the case here. And using bold, italics, and underline in the same email is overkill and just looks a little too Word document-ish.
- The blogger’s name was spelled wrong. While the pitch was personalized, if you leave a letter off the end of someone’s name, we’re left to wonder if it was a sloppy cut and paste or if you didn’t really pay attention.
- Overselling the payoff. The idea of “pretty amazing prizes” is subjective. More on that below.
- The biggest problem with this pitch is, hands down, the lack of consistency in language:
- “You’ve Been Nominated”
- “you’ve been selected”
- “first-come, first serve”
- Which is it?
- The prizes, while nice in value, sound a little condescending in nature:
- A trip to Las Vegas with money towards your stay? $500 might be plenty but a real prize would simply include the associated travel expenses.
- Blogging guest spots? For large traffic sites, this can be huge to a blogger but offering it as a prize seems a little cheesy.
- Bragging rights? That probably didn’t need to be spelled out.
- A brand new iPad3? Can’t I assume that it’s brand new? And the smiley face seems a little too look-what-we-got-you.
- It’s a contest.
I saved the worst for last. Yes, the biggest problem here is that it’s a contest.
Not only can there be legal issues arising from contests involving blogging but pitting bloggers against one another is probably not going to end well. Bloggers should be valued for the skill, talent, and influence and not treated like the next contestant on The Price is Right.
I’m sure that many bloggers that received the nomination/selection/invitation will dash off their response in hopes of being selected. But many of us are sitting behind the scenes wondering when we might be treated more like professionals.