KNOWHOW To run a competition (Part One)

Want to run a competition but worried about the rules?
Jo E. Verrill knows a thing or two that might help…

Competitions can be a great way to engage with readers – and gain followers. But have you ever wondered if you’re doing them the right way, and if there are any risks?

Here’s a little run down of some competition facts:

1. Yes, they are regulated

All competitions, prize draws, promotions, giveaways, however small/casual/uncommercial, are regulated by the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) and subject to the advertising code.

2. …but the risks are mainly about reputation

The ASA won’t fine you, but, if you breach a rule and it’s complained about, they will make public their decision - and these can get into the press.

3. If you make people pay to enter, it could be illegal

If you want to charge an entry fee, it’s likely to be an illegal lottery. So, unless you’ve read and understood this guidance and taken legal advice, avoid avoid avoid!

4. You do need to draw up rules (terms and conditions)

While the idea might make your creative brain want to pack up and leave town, it’s not as bad as it seems.

Take a look at some other comps run for children – Blue Peter is a good one – and be guided.

They can be dead simple and short for a prize draw. The rules say you must include this information as a minimum:
  • Instructions on how to take part
  • Opening closing times/dates
  • Any proof of purchase instructions – e.g. do you need to prove you bought the book? How?
  • The number and nature of prizes. Give all significant restrictions – for example, if it’s a voucher, use-by date. A Zoom call with the author – when, how long? A bottle of gin (what brand? How big?)
  • Restrictions on who can enter – age, do you have to live in a particular area?
  • Name/address of who’s running the comp (if not otherwise obvious)

5. You need to make the terms available

The norm would be to house them online, but if entry is at an event, you should make them available in paper form too. Either way, just make sure entrants know they exist and exactly where to find them.

Main Image by Bao Truong

Jo. E Verrill is an enthusiastic writer of humorous books for children, and an advertising and broadcasting standards consultant.

Do you have any suggestions for KnowHow? If there's something you'd like to know how to do or know more about, tell us. Email KnowHow editor, Eleanor at

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