By Jenny Fujita and Joy K. Miura, Fujita & Miura Public Relations

Are you one of those folks who peeks under the soda cap to see if you won anything? Most of us do it. People love contests. Plus, they’re a great, low-cost, low-effort way to gain positive exposure for your company and its products or services. It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in; poster contests, random drawings, half-court shots, and games like McDonald’s Monopoly can be re-invented for any business.

The trick to a good contest is having fair contest rules, a decent prize, and adequate contest promotions. Establish simple, clearly stated contest rules and stick to them. Be sure that all contest entries abide by the rules and that the winner is chosen fairly. This will help avoid any hard feelings from those who don’t win. When deciding on a prize, remember that it doesn’t have to be extravagant. People enter contests just for the chance to win something – anything. Take M&Ms Global Color Vote: those who vote on the new M&M color get nothing but the satisfaction that their color won.

To encourage participation, announce the contest on the radio, get the media involved, hold an event, or hire a mascot to wave down potential entrants. When it’s time to choose a winner, write a news release, take a photo, and maybe even plan a formal celebration. And be sure to tell the losers to “Try Again.”

In the end, you’ll have one ecstatic winner who will most likely become a your company’s lifetime patron and personal PR advocate. Furthermore, all entrants will be more familiar with your products or services, which may influence more sales.

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