How to Run a Kids Online Video Contest

I own a small video production in Onalaska, Wisconsin. My company specializes in home movie transfer, editing services and video production for businesses and weddings. I had always wanted to run a video contest, but didn’t really get know how to get started. I was looking for a creative way to promote my business, but mostly it was just something I always wanted to do.

I decided to run a “Kids behind the Camera” video contest. The contest was open to all kids ages 6-16. They were asked to make a 1-2 minute video on any topic they wanted. There would be two winners: A producer’s choice (my choice) & a public choice.

I didn’t have a lot of money to promote the contest or give away a lot of prizes so I had to get creative.  I had met the owner of a local parenting magazine, “Coulee Parenting Connection” a couple of times and thought maybe she would be interested in at least providing some free advertising for the contest.  Not only did she love the idea, she asked the local news channel, WKBT if they wanted to be involved. WKBT jumped on board also. Not only did WKBT provide the two cameras that were given away, but they also agreed to interview each one of the winners and show their video on their newscast!

I use Sony Vegas software for my editing software. By chance, Sony is headquartered in Madison, Wisconsin. I sent an email to them telling them about my contest and would they want to donate a prize. They emailed back, “Sure. What’s your address?” Within a week, I had it new editing software at my door.

So WKBT provided the cameras and advertising on their show and agreed to interview the winners. Coulee Parenting Connection advertised the contest in their magazine and agreed to announce the winners in their magazine. Sony agreed to provide Sony Movie Studio software as a prize. My responsibility was to take care of releases, the video uploads and the public choice voting.

The contest started. The entry time was May 15th- July 7th.  We chose summer because for one, I thought of the idea in spring, but we knew fall was too busy for people with going back to school, winter was too cold to go out and film, so summer was perfect.

The kids were to shot the video, edit it if they wanted to and upload it on YouTube. They would then email me the YouTube link, along with the releases and I would put it on my website.

I required signed releases for every person in the video. Even though the kids put the video up on their own YouTube page, I still wanted to protect myself, especially because all of these videos “starred” minors.

I use and maintain my own website by using Yahoo Site Builder. By maintaining my own site, I was able to easily add the videos right away when they came in.

A few entries trickled in. As the videos came in, I added them on my website, put a link to Facebook and announced every new entry as it came in. I also commented on each video, “Great instructional video today by Gavin. Check out how to learn how to tie a karate belt!”

In all we received 10 entries. Of those 10, 6 came in on the last day.

The videos were in, on the site and ready for voting. I used the Constant Contact application for surveys. I was able to put my “survey” (which was really just one question) on my site. Constant Contact measured the results. I didn’t have to track anything.

I tried to keep the momentum up for the voting by posting it on Facebook and sending out emails to the kids. However, I had made the time frame too long. I had the voting for 2 ½ weeks. I should have only run it one week. 2 ½ weeks was just too long to keep the “excitement” going.

Wow.  I was so impressed by some of the entries we received.  A lot of them had graphics, titles and impressive editing.

I chose a video for “Producer’s Choice” (which was really a very difficult choice) and the public chose “Public Choice”.  In all there were about 500 votes.

At the end of the contest I sent of certificates to each one of the kids. I made up awards such as “Best Stunt”, “Best Comedy” etc. I sent a DVD copy to the winners with their tv interview on it.

Out of the 10 entries, I received 8 phone calls or emails from the parents thanking me for running the contest. I would say it was successful and fun. I just called the magazine and she is excited again to run it this year!

I had some wonderful, funny, cute and serious entries.  For more information about Take 5 Productions, take a look at our website.

About take5productions

Linda O'Connell is the owner of Take 5 Productions in Onalaska, WI. Take 5 transfers home movies,slides and pictures to DVD and digital files, creates video slideshows and produces business videos. She can be reached at or
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