Winning your pageant in the digital era
Six months ago, I never imagined I would produce a top ranking national pageant via virtual format. Who knew my next Miss Earth USA would conduct online media interviews two to three times per week and spend over 100 hours filming Miss Earth international competition segments?
To date, there has been no book written on how a virtual pageant should be operated or how to compete in online elements. We are all learning as we go! I commend the Miss Earth organization in the Philippines for hosting the very first major international pageant via online format. Many other programs chose to skip 2020, hoping next year will usher in fewer health restrictions and distancing requirements and easier international travel. Miss Earth knows the beauty pageant industry is not just about glamour and stage production, it is most important our representatives use their voices on a national and global platform to make an impact.
During two months of online international competition, we witnessed incredible creativity and a more intimate look at each candidate’s home country. The Miss Earth live chats have united the delegates without ever being in the same room. We were seeing the candidates’ gowns and swimwear modeled in their country’s most beautiful locations. The delegates showcased incredibly impressive talents and national costumes without having to transport expensive equipment around the world.
I certainly hope the pageant industry (and everything) soon returns to normal. However, even when COVID-19 vaccines are widely available and restrictions are lifted, we can expect organizations to have learned there are some areas of competition which can easily be held online. Let’s discuss the importance of your online presence while competing in a pageant.
Social Media Platforms
There are only two times in life when a beauty queen is perfect: At birth and during her pageant. Chances are pretty good you have displayed somewhere in your internet history that you are far from perfect. If you aren’t on social media, or you’ve chosen to take a break from a popular platform, it is vital a titleholder establish a professional, attractive and useful social media presence. We have incorporated social media into our scoring for the last five years, including introduction videos, getting to know you chats and general evaluations of how a candidate engages her fanbase. When evaluating social media presence, I am not looking for someone to be the perfect, flawlessly filtered Instagram model. I want to see an inside snapshot of the person and her life! I want her to chat openly and freely with a media interviewer or sister queen, engage with followers, and fearlessly be ready to address any question.
We are living in a very divisive time in the United States, which is evident when scrolling through social media. The Miss Earth USA organization has chosen to enforce rules to create a positive social media experience. This includes not supporting or opposing political candidates or parties via social media and not engaging in conversation with others “bashing” pageants. When confronted about posts, I have heard candidates say, “Oh, that was posted to my personal page.” When you are a titleholder, you must embrace the fact that your personal life is now your life as a titleholder. The public will look at your personal and professional social media platforms as a representation of your title. It’s tough to admit we may have skeletons in the closet, but it is never too late to do a sweep of your social media and remove content that was not representative of your title when posted months or years ago.
The beauty of pageantry is you are permitted to “reinvent” yourself—but only in an honest way. Remember your social media presence is not just beautiful photos or Boomerang videos, it is also your comments on other people’s posts. It is the groups you belong to. It is your support of messages shared to your story. If your pageant does not blatantly state they are scoring your social media presence, most are doing so off the record. My advice is to allow social media to be a tool for you to easily market your organization, amplify your voice and unite others.
In 2017, Facebook Live video view count was 2 billion viewers. In 2018, the number of Facebook Live broadcasts reached 3.5 billion. Opportunities to “go live” are being incorporated more often in pageant marketing, and they are a great way to immediately engage your audience. Individual and group live chats are a great way for me to evaluate if a delegate can:
1) Successfully operate technology
2) Portray herself in a professional manner via live video
3) Naturally engage with others
As a pageant director, my goal is for communication to encompass over 50% of a delegate’s score.
The Miss Earth USA organization has gone away from live public speaking competitions and in-person group media interviews. Now, taking into account COVID-19 health concerns, we host online group chats moderated by a national titleholder. This allows our legacy titleholders to get involved. It lets the delegates get to know one another, take questions from the audience, and show that beauty queens are indeed more than just beauty. Over the last few months, many television and radio interviews with Miss Earth USA have been scheduled remotely, as opposed to sending her to the studio. While your pageant may not choose to incorporate live videos, you can still incorporate them into your social media presence to draw a larger audience and engage fans.
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