Tag Archives: journalism contest

BEWARE this Halloween!

It’s that time of year when people dress themselves up and pretend to be someone they’re not.  It’s all part of the fun of Halloween.

There are other imposters lurking about that can also be a bit scary – companies pretending to be something they’re not.   There are a few of those in our business – contest platforms who are calling around saying “we’re just like BetterBNC but cheaper.”

Well, we’re flattered and thankful to our loyal customers who are telling us about the calls from those businesses but make sure you do know the difference between BetterBNC, which is currently the preferred contest platform for nearly 200 media and PR organizations in the US and Canada, and the other companies, most of which offer generic platforms that they will adapt for media contests.

BetterBNC was designed by media professionals specifically for news, creative and PR awards programs.  It is based on industry contest best practices and provides the security features and high-performance cloud server processor systems needed for today’s journalism and PR contests.

We know that if you shop around and ask the right questions, you’ll see the advantages of BetterBNC.   For example, make sure you can’t just log in and make an entry to a contest without an authorization feature.  If you can do it to another contest, someone could do it to yours.

We had two contests who went to another vendor who promised a cheaper experience but a year later they came back to BetterBNC.  One told us they now know why the other vendor was so inexpensive – they didn’t offer the needed features that are core to BetterBNC.  Another said the other base platform was inexpensive but after customizing it so it worked for a journalism contest they spent more than they had with BetterBNC.   Ask questions and make sure you know what you’re getting.

Have a fun and safe Halloween!

A Better Experience for Your Contest Judges

Contest administrators repeatedly tell us that it is critical that their contests are easy and intuitive for busy judges who volunteer their time to review and evaluate entries.  BetterBNC works to ensure a smooth experience for judges like Jack Dvorak who has used the platform to judge contests.  Jack tell us, “I find {BetterBNC] easy to use, efficient and effective.”

Now, BetterBNC is going even further to improve the experience for contest judges.   Judges have said they want an intuitive and easy way to review their assigned entries and ultimately select category winners.  As well, they want to be able to judge from any device.

BetterBNC has now placed the judging platform on a dedicated server to ensure performance during peak judging periods.  Linking to entries saves judges the time of downloading files to review and contest administrators are able to adjust settings so judges can choose first through fourth place or no winner.

Also part of the newly released BetterBNC 5.0, the judges welcome page has been redesigned and now includes a countdown reminding them which assignments have been completed.

Learn more about BetterBNC and the newest features added to the platform. Contact us today at 360.427.6300.

BetterBNC Now Offers Customized Contest Homepages

BetterBNC_graphicMembers of BetterBNC’s Admin Advisor Group got a first look at the new Customizable Homepage feature this morning. It allows contest administrators to quickly and easily build a branded homepage for their media contest. They can select a URL, color palette, add images and graphics, and insert text (simply copy & paste) about their contest. The new feature is part of the BetterBNC contest platform’s newest version, BetterBNC 5.0, and will be available to BetterBNC contests in the next few days. It’s a free and optional feature that takes only a few minutes to set up. There are currently two templates to select from.

The Advisor Group, which reviews and provides feedback on BetterBNC’s new features, said they appreciate the ability to drive contest participants to a branded webpage for information about their awards program and the ease with which they can create the page. Several suggestions from today’s demo are being explored and we hope can be added to the platform in the future.

Want to know more about BetterBNC and how it can help you manage your contest? Contact BetterBNC today for more information or to see a demo of the platform. You can email Karen Tarica at Karen@smalltownpapers.com. BetterBNC is currently being used by nearly 200 media organizations across the US for their print, broadcast, PR and advertising contests.

Broadcast Orgs Turning to BetterBNC for their Awards Programs

The BetterBNC online contest management platform is pleased to announce it is approaching the signing of its 40th broadcaster contest.  Increasingly, broadcast organizations are seeking online solutions for their awards programs which must accommodate the various digital video and audio files being used by television and radio stations today.

The BetterBNC platform, used by nearly 200 news media awards programs across the country today, is becoming the preferred platform for broadcast organizations since it was designed and built specifically to address the unique needs of print and broadcast journalism contests.

MABLogoFor broadcaster awards programs, BetterBNC transforms the contest experience by saving time for all involved.   “It cuts down the upload time on the television side of things, the time it takes a station to enter and also for judging,” explains Mary Worland, the Awards and Projects Coordinator for the Michigan Association of Broadcasters which this year presents its third BetterBNC contest. “Rather than waiting to download, [judges] just click a link to view.  It’s so user-friendly, just drag and drop, and it’s also so much easier to download and export reports for ourselves and the auditors.”

Rather than shipping entries or uploading numerous pieces onto an awards program server, BetterBNC allows organizations to simply link to their broadcast entries which can be on a station’s website or published on sites including YouTube, Vimeo and Tindeck.  This reduces issues resulting from an increasing number of different file formats or slow server speeds and it is improving experience for judges who are now able to more easily view and evaluate entries online.

Launched in 2007, BetterBNC offers media organizations an online and fully integrated contest for entries, judging and administration.  The robust platform includes features designed to ensure contest security and integrity such as a fully auditable record of activity.  The platform allows for easy admin report generation, offers a suite of customization options and full tech support is included at no additional charge.

BetterBNC is committed to ongoing improvements and regularly adds new features, many of which are recommended by its Admin Advisory Group comprised of ten representatives from media organizations currently using the platform.  Program updates address new technologies and the evolution of the media industry.  Recent additions allow contests to accept PayPal for entry fees or open contests to freelance on-air talent, reporters and photographers.

Broadcast organizations can visit www.BetterBNC.com for more information or email carter@smalltownpapers.com to schedule a complimentary demo.

BetterBNC’s Newest Features & Benefits

(The article below is an excerpt from our BetterBNC August newsletter.  Want to subscribe?  Email Karen@Smalltownpapers.com)

BetterBNC’s Admin Advisory Group was formed this summer and is comprised of a diverse group of ten contest administrators representing both print and broadcast media organizations using the platform. The group will recommend and review improvements and additions to the BetterBNC platform to ensure it best serves our customer’s needs.

“Our customers are the most informed users of the BetterBNC contest awards platform,” said Paul Jeffko, whose company, SmallTownPapers, Inc. created the product in 2007. “We will continue to evolve and improve based on the suggestions, ideas and feedback we receive from BetterBNC users.”

The Advisory Group has already made numerous recommendations, many of which are included in the release of version 5.0 which is currently rolling out. “We truly appreciate the time and work performed by this dedicated group of contest administrators. Their involvement will help ensure BetterBNC remains responsive to the needs of its users and the platform of choice for media industry awards programs,” Jeffko added.

Here are some of the upcoming new features and improvements, most scheduled for September release:

ADMIN

  • Customizable home pages
  • Direct email messaging and reminders
  • Improved table behavior, sorting and actions
  • Monitor Contestant Manager™ use of Authorized Entrant feature including number of sub-accounts established
  • New & improved reports
  • Set a flat-rate base contest fee variable by Division and CircGroup
  • MyContests page streamlined and easier to manage
  • Entry Table sort and search by Division
  • Set entry attachment limits by Category
  • Redesigned Category-to-CircGroup assignments
  • Redesigned Competition creation
  • Redesigned Competition assignments
  • Batch entry Confirmation process
  • Entry Asset Manager to download all winners’ entry attachments or all entries (optional)

CONTESTANTS

  • Open Call™ contestants begin making entries immediately
  • Revenue Manager cart system fully integrated with PayPal
  • Advanced and allows for mailed-in checks (optional)
  • Series date range, set by Category

JUDGING

  • Judging platform backend redeployed on dedicated server ensures performance during peak judging
  • Redesigned Judges welcome page
  • Judges see countdown as assignments are completed
  • Option for admin to display the entry Division to judges
  • Option for admin to allow “no winner” declaration by judge
  • Admin selectable winner places (First through Fourth)

CLOUD SYSTEM

  • Hardware updates include the most advanced cloud servers, scalable to meet demand

Interested in BetterBNC?  Contact us for a free demo.  Email Carter@smalltownpapers.com to schedule yours.

Admin Advisory Group Guides BetterBNC Enhancements

BetterBNC’s Admin Advisory Group was formed this summer and is comprised of a diverse group of ten contest administrators representing both print and broadcast media organizations using the platform. The group recommends and reviews improvements and additions to the BetterBNC platform to ensure it best serves our customer’s needs.

“Our customers are the most informed users of the BetterBNC contest awards platform,” said Paul Jeffko, whose company, SmallTownPapers, Inc. created the product in 2007. “We will continue to evolve and improve based on the suggestions, ideas and feedback we receive from BetterBNC users.”
 
The Advisory Group has already made numerous recommendations, many of which are included in the release of version 5.0 which is currently rolling out. “We truly appreciate the time and work performed by this dedicated group of contest administrators. Their involvement will help ensure BetterBNC remains responsive to the needs of its users and the platform of choice for media industry awards programs,” Jeffko added.

Mirror Awards Moves to BetterBNC Platform

logo-mirror-awardsThe Mirror Awards are among journalism’s most prestigious awards honoring excellence in media industry reporting.  But up until recently, the awards program hosted by Syracuse University’s S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications faced challenges with the way its contest was administered.

“We had a complicated and convoluted system for assigning entries, which took a ton of time and effort on the part of several members of our team,” explains Mirror Awards event coordinator Sarah Hope. The awards program moved to the BetterBNC platform in 2013 and now with two BetterBNC contests under its belt, 2013 and 2014, administrators are able to see how much the process has improved.

“Now, with the algorithm embedded in the contest platform, we are able to randomly assign entries quickly and easily. It is incredibly helpful in that respect. The switch to BetterBNC allowed us to accept entries online and collect contact information rather than being bombarded with emails and having to follow up with those entrants.”

The Mirror Awards team worked with BetterBNC to customize its contest platform and the result has been easier for all involved but Hope notes, the change has been particularly helpful for judges. “They find it much easier than the complex spreadsheets we used to send them. Having all of the entries in one place also facilitates the in-person judging weekends that we conduct where several (up to 15) judges sit in a room and discuss the entries to decide on finalists and winners. They can bring up the entries they weren’t assigned or even read extra entries in advance if they wish. They enjoy the process more now that it is all online for them.”

Designed specifically for journalism contests, BetterBNC today works with administrators of journalism, broadcaster, public relations and other creative contests to create the smoothest online experience possible. Contact BetterBNC today for a free demo.

A Better Way to Manage a Growing Journalism Contest

NAAJ_logoDavid Hendee, the Contest Coordinator for the North American Agricultural Journalists, says this year’s NAAJ writing contest was a big improvement over previous contests.  It was this year that the NAAJ moved from physical newspaper entries and manually managing the contest to an all digital process with the BetterBNC platform.

BetterBNC is saving contests administrators, contestants and judges time by having the entire process managed online.  The administrator sets up the contest online even accepting secure payments through the system if desired, entries are easily uploaded, and judging  is conducted through an intuitive dashboard.

“The contest coordinator’s ability to track entries from writers and the ability to grab electronic versions of the entry for use in the awards ceremony slideshow” were the features that David most appreciated as NAAJ’s contest coordinator.  And that’s important with a growing contest.  NAAJ had 260 entries this year, up 30% from previous years.  Winners were announced last spring in Washington DC.

NAAJ is one of 160 journalism, broadcasting, creative, public relations and other media related contests using the BetterBNC platform today.  Contact Carter Cheston at 360.427.6300 or by emailing Carter@smalltownpapers.com  for more information about moving your contest to the BetterBNC platform or to schedule a free demo.  Click here for more information about the NAAJ.

 

Transform Your Media Contest Experience

I remember all too well back in the day when entering a news media contest meant the time consuming task of going through stories I’d written, pulling tearsheets and filling out forms to place in the mail.  It was arduous process and generally happened with a postmark deadline looming.  Even tougher were television and radio stations which spent days pulling and editing down videos and audio tapes creating entries to mail in.  Times have certainly changed.

I had a refresher demo of the BetterBNC contest platform recently and what it does for today’s contests is impressive.  The demo showed the flexibility of the platform for contest administrators, the ease with which contestants are able to upload entries in a variety of formats, and the clean and intuitive online experience for judges.  All of this is really no surprise given that BetterBNC was created specifically for media contests by SmallTownPapers, Inc., a well-known and active participant in the journalism trades.

Because it was designed for media contests, its platform updates include enhancements which are the direct result of feedback from the user community.  When newsroom managers suggested they be able to more easily manage who can enter a contest on behalf of their news organization, the Contestant Manager™ feature was added to provide them with the ability to set up employee accounts which they can monitor and then approve entries before they are submitted.

Administrators suggested that they be able to invite freelance writers to enter their contests so the Open Call™ feature was added.  And contestants suggested that there should be a way for them to store pieces that they may want to enter into a future contest so BetterBNC added a Scrapbook feature allowing them save their work in their own BetterBNC account so it is ready to submit when the call for entries is made.

The participation of those using the platform has made BetterBNC the number one media contest platform used by more than 160 contests across North America today.  The platform was built when Washington’s state press association asked us if we could “help digitize” their BNC. That was back in 2007 but we have retained the philosophy that our users will ultimately have the best ideas. BetterBNC recently established an Admin Advisory Group comprised of contest administrators which will guide future improvements and enhancements.

BetterBNC recognizes that the industry is rapidly changing as is the BetterBNC user base.  The platform may have launched years ago for newspaper associations but today is designed for all media organizations and is hosting a growing number of broadcaster, public relations, advertising and other creative awards programs.  The platform is agile and able to respond to the inevitable changes in the way media contests are managed today and in the future.

If you’re a contest administrator, see what BetterBNC can do for your contest experience.  Sign up for a complementary platform demo today – call us at 360.427.6300.

Expanding BetterBNC Media Contests to Freelancers

BetterBNC is making it easy for media contests to invite freelancers to participate using the platform’s Open Call feature.  Contest administrators can choose to make their contest Open Call and freelancers and contestants entering contests on their own behalf, rather than through a media organization, create their own account with BetterBNC then enter the Open Call contests for which they’re eligible.

Freelance writers, photographers and creatives say Open Call is opening new recognition opportunities for them.

“I haven’t entered many journalism contests in the past because you have to work for a newspaper or magazine to qualify for many of them,” said Seattle-based freelance magazine writer David Hanson who published a book, Breaking through Concrete, documenting a dozen urban farms.  “Having one place where I can have an account and see contests my work qualifies for is really great.  Putting my work in front of new audiences across the country is a great way to market myself as a writer and identify organization’s I’d like to work with in the future.”

BetterBNC also makes it easier than ever before to enter contests by providing a scrapbooking feature.  Contestants can save work they want to enter into contests in a scrapbook account then simply upload it directly into an entry when the time is right.

Contact BetterBNC today for more information – carter@smalltownpapers.com.