Tuesday, January 31, 2012

How not to run a competition

The notice in the “Radio Times” was appealing “Win a Year at the theatre” it said in announcing a competition for theatre lovers. The prize was theatre tickets in London for a year as a member of an expert panel that decides the winners of the “prestigious Olivier Awards”. To compete you had to write a winyearattheatre150 word review of a recent show that you had seen, explain why you deserved to win and finally to list all the theatre that you had seen in the past tear.

As a very regular theatregoer (33 times in 2011) and a semi-professional writer on the Arts and other subjects the competition seemed made for me. I took it seriously and submitted what I thought was a decent entry. I didn't win – or I assume that I didn't because I have heard nothing – but I was not called for interview in mid January (the final part of the selection process). Now that is, of course, fine by me – I expect that there were many entries and I hope that they selected a good candidate. But what is completely unacceptable is that not only did I not receive any acknowledgment of my entry but I received no communications from the organisers at all. I tried to check that my entry had been received but got no reply to this request. And at the time of writing there is nothing on the Olivier Awards website either.

If you run a competition of this type where a certain level of of proficiency and experience is necessary (it’s not a lucky draw) then you owe it to the candidates to communicate with them. Whether this fell between the two stools of the Radio Times and the Olivier Awards organisers I don't know. But I do know that it’s no way to run a competition.