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Creating Buzz Around Your Startup Using Sweepstakes or Contests

There is no denying the major impact a sweepstakes or contest can have for a startup. Especially at such an important stage. When creating buzz can mean life or death. But as simple as sweepstakes and contests seem, they can also cause unwanted trouble if not carefully thought out. There is more involved than throwing together a tote and a coozie.

So the next time you plan a contest or sweepstakes think through a few of the topics below:

Contact

There are laws outlining how to contact your participants. Typically, these details in regulation include things like when you can contact, how to contact, and when to stop. The type of participant contact (for example telephone or mail) may also have rules. Do Not Call Lists in the United States are a good example. It’s important to understand how these laws work to avoid hefty penalties. As well as the bad PR that follows violating them. 

Gaming Laws

Some laws regulate contests or sweepstakes running as bingo, lottery or raffle games. These may require registration with a board before advertising or promoting.  In the United States, some states actually outlines how tickets have to look. Depending on the location, some organizations may not be allowed to run certain types of contests, and have to keep very detailed accounting records, a list of participants and actual awards made.

False Advertising Laws

Sweepstakes and contests have to be transparent from start to finish. Many laws focus on whether their operation is honest and clear. For example, listing the odds of winning or prizes need to be clearly communicated to the participants. Other things to keep in mind, is the entry process clear? Are there extra steps involved signing up?  Can they cancel their entry anytime?

Other Things to Think About.

Purchases. Be careful tying a sweepstakes or contest entry to a purchase.  

Consent. Watch who enters, especially when contests or sweepstakes are through social media. There are laws in the United States regulating contact with children 13 years old or younger. Also keep in mind the age someone must be to be bound to a contract (like entry rules). 

Infringement. There are laws to protect some website operators if a user uploads content they don't own or have permission to use. But specific processes and procedures have to be in place to fall under this protection. If a contest or sweepstakes requires participants upload pictures, posts or stories you'll want the right processes in place.

Breach. Many social media sites cover contests and sweepstakes in their Terms of Use. Before running one, look over the these to make sure you're in the clear.  


Takeaway

Planning is key with any type of sweepstakes or contest. The impact can still be major in a positive way.  Being upfront, clear and honest is always the way to go. And where a sweepstakes or contest  has national or international reach consider hiring an expert. 



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