KNOWHOW to run a competition (Part Two)

Do you feel confident running a competition online? In Part Two of our Competition KnowHow,  Jo E. Verrill shares a few guidelines that should come in handy…

With so much moving online, competitions are a really good way to connect with readers and gain followers. If you’re thinking of creating a competition, here are some facts that might help you do them the right way, and reduce risks:

1. If it’s open to kids, they need permission from a parent

This isn’t an absolute requirement of the CAP code, but for various reasons – including data protection regulations – you should be seeking to get the permission of a parent or guardian for under-16s to enter. Again, look at some other competitions for children to see how they do this, and for what ages.

And if you’re dealing with kids, make sure the prize isn’t something that could cause bother. Mobile phones, large amounts of cash/vouchers are generally not a good idea.

2. You need to include the ‘significant conditions’ when you promote it

The key points from the terms need to be added to the promotional material (e.g. Facebook post). At a minimum, age/geographical restrictions, how to take part, closing date, prize(s), where to find full terms.


3. Winners need to be picked properly

Prize draws need to be done in a verifiably random manner. If you want to pick a name out of a hat, it should be supervised by a person independent of the competition (this could literally be a random stranger from the street). Or you can order your entries in a spreadsheet and use a website like to generate the winning row.

Judged competitions are a little trickier. Technically, under the rules, you have to appoint at least one independent judge to the panel. And you need to take a little care over the judging process, and make sure the judges are fit to judge. For example, if it’s a drawing competition, a professional illustrator would be appropriate for the panel. The judging criteria must be clear, and guidance given on what will be excluded.

A little more guidance is available here.


4. You have to stick to your own rules

This is little known, and often flouted, but you’re not allowed to change the closing date of the competition once it’s opened. Nor – indeed – any rule.

Promoters are sometimes surprised by how few entries a competition attracts, but that’s not enough of a reason to extend the closing date or tweak the judging criteria.

For this reason, it’s really important to think your competition through carefully. What could go wrong? Make sure you cover all this in the terms and conditions.

5. And finally…you have to award the prize


Sounds obvious, but many competitions fall foul of this. The prize has to be awarded, exactly as described, and normally within 30 days.

If the prize becomes unavailable for reasons outside of your control, you will need to award a reasonable equivalent. For example, if it’s a book, you could offer a book token to the value.


If you haven't already, make sure you also read Part One of KNOWHOW to Run a Competition.

 Main Image by Wyron A


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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