In this phase you'll determine the appropriate channels for announcing your winners. You'll work with internal teams to expedite payment and document your processes. You'll also explore important non-monetary incentives for all participants. These include detailed feedback, recognition and information about follow-on funding opportunities.
You have a variety of options when it comes to announcing winners. Customize your process to meet the needs of your challenge, and formulate your announcement strategy early.
You may announce winners through a press release, on your website or at an event. However you do it, you need to effectively communicate who the winners are and what they achieved. You also need to explain the outcomes produced by the challenge.
Put some thought into the date you'll announce winners. You can maximize your outreach and increase visibility for your winners by making the announcement at an event or on a date that's significant to the challenge topic.
You can announce winners in several ways. You can organize an event for your challenge, piggyback off of an existing event or announce the results online or in a press release.
Those are just a few options.
Just like you've done with your challenge rules and judging process, tailor your announcement strategy based on your goals and any constraints you face.
An event of your own: If you're running a big challenge, you may want to organize a special event to announce winners.
Planning such an event can take a significant amount of time, and your team will have to attract an audience for it. In addition to participants and their families, you may want to invite high-level government staff, elected officials, regulatory agencies, investors, philanthropic organizations or others.
Again, it depends on your goals.
Piggybacking: This approach can reduce the logistical burden of creating an event from scratch.
Consider making your announcement in conjunction with community events, conferences, fairs or conventions related to your challenge topic. In addition to providing you an appropriate place to make the announcement, this approach strengthens your outreach potential.
Obviously, you'll promote the event. But the event itself and all of the influential people and organizations attending can help promote your announcement.
Today's the day: Consider announcing your winners on a significant date related to the challenge topic. The team behind the USAID Desal Prize, a competition about producing clean water with solar energy, announced winners on Earth Day.
Pay attention to when the news media is likely to pick up stories and plan accordingly. Because you may have included a date—or at least a general timeframe—for winner announcements in your rules, participants may know when to expect results. You can create more anticipation throughout additional networks through social media and your website.
Make your announcement as close to the end of the competition as possible if you want a lot of media coverage. If you can't avoid a significant delay between the end of competition and the announcement, consider holding a controlled event with no media to announce winners. If you do this, you'll have to request that participants keep it under wraps until you can make a big splash with a later official announcement.
Make sure you document all of your decisions in your communications plan.
Questions to consider: Ask yourself several questions when coming up with a plan for your announcement event.
- Gravitas and leadership: Are you inviting the head of your agency to present awards? This will bring more external and internal attention to your challenge. The means more attention from both news media and from within your agency.
- Next steps: Are you announcing follow-on opportunities or prizes during your event? It would be great if winners got more than they expected.
- Connections: Do you want participants to interact with investors? Think about what participants and winners will do with their work after the challenge.
- Building skills: Is there something specific you want participants to learn? Consider a "demo day" where they give quick "lightning talks" about their ideas and successes.
- Source of announcement: Should you have judges or another independent source announce the winners using a letterhead from the executing organization? Or should your government agency declare the winners?
Start preparing to announce winners as soon as the judging and approval process ends.
Your rules already may specify when to announce winners. If not, you'll have to decide after the judging and approval process when to make the announcement.
Along with your challenge kick-off/launch, the winner announcement is your biggest opportunity to make a communications splash. Take advantage of it.
Once you know the date and time, start generating excitement about the announcement. Use social media and your website to count down to the announcement date.
Plan for good photo and video opportunities during your announcement.
So-called "big check" photos are standard. We all do them. But think outside the box to capture more of the natural surprise and excitement on display at such an event. These are the images that will become part of the lasting legacy of your challenge.
If you don't hold an in-person event, consider telling participants they won by webcam so you can record their reactions.
Images of these genuine moments will help you promote the conclusion of your challenge, as well as any spin-off projects and successes.
As we mentioned in the "Execute Communications Plan" phase, you need to work with the appropriate communications teams to create a variety of products to reach target audiences.
Don't assume one product will reach everyone. Consider developing press releases, web features, videos, social media posts and other content to promote your winner announcement.
Get these materials ready ahead of time, but leave off the names of winners in draft versions. You don't want that information getting out ahead of your announcement.
Gather approved quotes from agency leaders about the success of the challenge or even how your agency might use the winning solutions. You can also include quotes from the winners and use video footage from activities over the course of the challenge.
In everything you do, make clear the objective of the challenge and explain any follow-on activities.
A challenge without participants would leave your agency trapped in an echo chamber.
All your participants contribute to the success of your challenge, even if they don't win a prize. For many, it's not even about the money.
Provide a memorable experience for all your participants and make each one feel important and respected. Think about ways to highlight all participants and provide benefits through the announcement process that have nothing to do with prize money. Mine the "Award Non-monetary Incentives" phase for ideas that can be applied to everyone.
This is more difficult for online competitions. You'll have to come up with ways to highlight their accomplishments even though you can't showcase them in person.
Bottom line: The winner announcement is about the participants, not your agency.
Tell the stories of the winners and highlight the human dimensions of their participation. Illustrating their struggles, discoveries and plans will make your announcement much more attractive to the news media, especially local and regional reporters.
Your agency will receive attention as participants share their positive experiences. And all of your efforts ultimately create a foundation for your agency to run future challenges.
But right now, put the spotlight on your participants and winners.
In most cases you'll notify winners in advance of a public announcement. But holding a live announcement event also presents an opportunity to create suspense and genuine surprise.
Think about what approach makes the most sense for your challenge.
Notify winners in person whenever possible, and try make the notification itself a special occasion. You can even do this by combining the notification and award presentation into a single ceremony.
If you decide to announce winners without notifying them first, think about the people who don't win. You still want to make them feel appreciated. You also want to make sure your winners—who don't know they won yet—show up to the event.