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The value of competitions, giveaways and reader offers

Updated: Aug 21, 2021

The term ‘public relations’ covers a multitude of communications and promotional methods and one of these is competitions, giveaways and reader offers. They are quick wins for publicity and depending on the prize, can also be a very cheap way to secure visibility for your brand - however, they can be equally costly. It’s all down to expectations, media outlets used and the style of competition/offer being run.


Whether you are a brand that can run competitions for small prizes such as a bottle of wine, t-shirt, kitchenware etc. or a business that is more likely to offer a holiday, car or big ticket electrical item as a prize, the set up is roughly the same.

Competitions used to be a way of gathering consumer data, however, in more recent years, GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) has put a stop to that. Data is now only available if the medium you are using to promote your prize, will agree to include an ‘opt in’ clause for entries, whereby the entrant has to actively agree to have their data used for promotional purposes. So if collecting data is one of your main aims for a competition, be aware of this and also the generally low take up of ‘opt ins’ - you may need to consider competition incentives to get people to your own site to provide their data.

Today, it’s better to view a competition as a straightforward tool for raising awareness of a business or product. So if you still think running a competition is for you, here’s what you need to think about:

  1. What are you giving away? Will the prize value be large or small? This is very important as ultimately it will define everything that happens next.

  2. Are you just wanting a small splash - maybe locally only or on social media - or are you aiming high with huge media exposure on a national scale?

  3. Do you have an extended budget to cover costs for mediums that make charges to run a competition?

Small prizes

For small value prizes, I’m sure this seems obvious but the exposure will likely be relatively small too. Regional newspapers, online titles and occasionally some televised game shows will take smaller prizes. The exposure won’t be massive but for brands that have a very defined target audience, this can work extremely well.

Great targets for small competitions can be weekly women’s magazines such as Best, Bella and Woman. They’re often happy to take smaller prizes, running a quarter page in the magazine to promote the competition in return.

Another great option for smaller prizes (especially if you’re prepared to provide multiple numbers) is TV game shows such as Tipping Point. They are always looking for prizes for the contestants and in return you can expect an onscreen mention along with a logo.

Big prizes

For businesses able to provide prizes that are valued in the tens of thousands and above, major national newspaper competitions can be a great option. The commercial teams will work closely with those offering the prize to ensure the best possible package for all involved. This can be inclusive of editorial, social media, front page splashes and the competition itself, but there can be a cost for placing the competition in addition to the cost of the prize itself, and often the prizes are required to have a minimum prize value of around £25,000. Similar packages and values apply for those seeking to place competitions on higher profile TV shows such as This Morning, which has regular competition slots.

Reader offers

These are great for hotels and restaurants to drive bookings with added incentives - however, media outlets often demand the ‘offer’ to be very generous. Worth in the region of 20% of the payment.

Reader offers also work well for offering discounts on products such as F&B, beauty, clothing, homeware etc. There can be placement fees in some instances but if you have a lot of products that needs to be sold quickly, a reader offer is a great way to achieve this. Who doesn’t love a bargain afterall!

Whether brands plump for a competition or reader offer, the benefit of both is any editorial that comes alongside the promotion will have full sign off by the client. This means you can ensure all your key messages, wording and SEO are utilised.


These are similar to a competition, however, giveaways usually require hundreds of an item to be given away and while its possible to use media outlets such as a magazine to invite readers to call in to be one of the first 100 people to get a free item, for example, they often take place in a real life setting, involving staff, insurance and other considerations.

Giveaways, are in many ways similar to PR stunts, but we’ll cover stunts in another blog - so keep checking back for future posts in you want to know more about stunts.

A typical, physical giveaway, often comes in the form of ‘Giveaway bins’. These are generally found in major footfall public locations such as train stations, airports and shopping malls. Depending on time of day, how long the giveaway will happen for (both in number of days and hours per day) and exact location, you can expect a vast difference in the costs of running these. It would be conservative to budget for a minimum of £1,500 for initial set up and on top of that you’d need insurance, staffing and of course, the product itself that is being given away and the busier the location, the more you’ll need. Thousands in some cases. However, the return on investment can be worth the effort. If the item proves popular, brands can expect to see a relatively instant uptick in sales, especially if the item is a quickly consumed product that leaves users wanting for more.

Whatever your preference for these types of promotions, the team at Haynes has vast experience of setting up all of the aforementioned opportunities.

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