How to Use Contests and Giveaways to Boost PR

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So you’re a PR pro, and the company you represent is trundling along, but hasn’t exactly been in the spotlight lately. Business is good, but the company is starting to slip out of the public eye. Unfortunately, there’s no new “news” in sight to interest the media or excite your customer base. What to do?

No Free Lunch?

How about a contest or giveaway? Contests and giveaways can be anything from small scale – asking customers at a local business to place their business card in fish bowl and giving a free lunch to one lucky winner – to the large scale – giving away cars, houses, and big cash prizes.  The number one element to consider when planning a contest or giveaway is how to tie it into your business so that it generates the most publicity.

Target Your Audience By Targeting the Prize

Anybody can give away an iPod, but if your PR client is a roofing company, how exactly does giving away a music player tie into repairing roofs? On the other hand, holding a “Most Decrepit House” contest and giving away a free roof to the person that sends you the picture of the neediest house, is a great way to generate publicity and content for your website. Not to mention, your client will provide a much-needed service, and probably garner attention from local media, real estate agents, and contractors who can throw him more work.

Engage Customers

If you are responsible for PR for a restaurant, how about holding a contest to let customers name a new menu item? The winner could receive a free lunch for four. Or if you are the PR pro representing an Internet-based software company, how about giving away 5 copies of your software to people who upload the funniest video explaining why they have to have a copy? Promotions like that, that tie in with your business, draw attention to your company, engage customers, and get your product into their hands all at the same time.

Void Where Prohibited

But before you start inviting customers to enter your contest, be sure you understand the laws in your area regarding contests and giveaways. More than one well-intentioned promotion has backfired horribly because the contest holders did not understand all the legal ramifications of their contest and found themselves in trouble with the Federal Trade Commission or the IRS. Get all that research out of the way first so the contest can be above board, legal and fun for everyone.

Reach 1.7 Million Journalists

Do you have a favorite promotion or contest? Share below. My personal favorite was our 11th anniversary promotion last year where eReleases gave away 11 netbooks and 77 press releases.

This article is written by Mickie Kennedy, founder of eReleases (, the online leader in affordable press release distribution. To subscribe to PR Fuel, visit:

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