Photo Credit: NC Watermelon Queen
The coronavirus pandemic has brought most events around the world to a halt and pageants are no exception. Many have already been postponed or cancelled, while others have made the decision to go virtual. Essentially every system is under a time crunch to crown a winner and get them ready for the next level. This obviously isn’t ideal but is necessary during these uncertain times. After all, who knows if the world will be ready to have a theater open to full capacity anytime soon?
One of those pageants that recently went virtual was the national competition for Miss Earth USA, which was streamed on the Pageant Planet website. We wanted to take a quick second to congratulate Lindsey Coffey who was crowned Miss Earth USA 2020!
So, what does all of this mean for titleholders, competitors and businesses operating in the pageant industry? This blog post will answer that question as well as provide some advice to help anyone competing in an upcoming virtual pageant!
The event industry has been hit hard. Pageant directors across the globe have been tasked with the difficult decision to postpone, cancel, or rethink how they can proceed safely. Coaches have had to meet for appointments electronically through Zoom and be proactive updating curriculum accordingly. Venues have had to cancel events or restrict capacity considerably. Vendors have had payments delayed and orders cancelled while doing their best to manage customer expectations. Sponsors are worried about seeing a return on their marketing dollars. Despite the economy bouncing back slower than people had hoped we are remaining cautiously optimistic about the industry adapting to the current climate.
To begin, if your business has extra money in the bank that won’t risk your ability to pay your employees or any other payments that can’t be delayed now is the time to buy! Lots of businesses have created programs to eliminate startup costs, deferred monthly payments and interest charges, and are promoting discounts on products to try to help kick-start the economy and maintain relationships with their customers. Use this to your advantage and buy what will help your business get by and suspend expenses where you can. It’s also a fantastic opportunity to dial in your budget for the next quarter.
If you’re a pageant director, now is the time to run promotions and discounts. With a lot of people currently unemployed, creating flexible payment options can help with sales tremendously. Book digital appearances for your contestants and reach out to new sponsors. Research exactly what is needed to host a digital pageant if you are scrambling to meet deadlines, and make sure your social media has up-to-date event information about pageants that have been cancelled, postponed, or rescheduled.
Coaches can benefit from running digital workshops and live streams that bring the pageant community together and keep your name and brand at the forefront of people’s minds.
Mask-mandates, social distancing guidelines and limitations on the capacity of how many customers can be in a store at a given time mean it’s imperative that retailers work on their web presence. This includes adding content to your website, making sure your SEO is driving traffic to the correct pages, posting on social media and adding testimonials from contestants you’ve worked with in the past.
Current holders of the crown would normally have a full schedule with appearances and other obligations that come with winning a local, state, or national title. However, with all the events being cancelled, stores not able to open, and states on some form of lockdown it can be difficult to know how to spend your time and focus your community service efforts effectively. Several local news stories have been run detailing ways titleholders have been getting creative. The Miss El Paso Organization has been hosting ‘Virtual Royal Parties’ for boys and girls. “It’s not easy work but I think this is the perfect opportunity to kind of connect with yourself and bring out the best version of yourself and be able to compete in the future,” according to the Director of the Miss El Paso Organization, Hector Chavez. 5-year-old USA National Miss Maryland Christiana Reid has been spending her time streaming a virtual story time online, writing letters to senior citizens in nursing homes who can’t interact with family as much as they’d like, donating to food pantries, and making care packages for healthcare workers.
First off, and I cannot stress this enough- PROMOTE YOUR SPONSORS! Like we mentioned earlier, most are probably hurting for business right now. Thank you cards with a signed headshot can go a long way and can help get sponsors in the future by citing examples of how you helped in the past during tougher times.
Podcasts and live streaming appearances will allow you to take advantage of being everywhere at once instead of limited to one place at a time, and have been very successful in the past compared to crown holders that just go places and simply exist. Another benefit of leveraging digital outlets is that once it’s on the internet it lasts forever and will help you build your brand over time. We recommend making a list of 5 podcasts that would be a good fit for you and your platform. Pageant Planet runs a fantastic podcast and will do shout outs for you if you register for a free account on their site.
Showcase and promote the pageant itself and use those clips for future marketing purposes. It’s also a great time to communicate and encourage other contestants that are competing to create a positive environment within the pageant community.
With essentially all pageants going through changes to protect the public from this virus, it’s extremely important that competitors practice their walk and prep questions (233 questions available free by clicking here), as well as practicing hair and makeup styles. Everyone is in the same boat with these sudden fluctuations in contest rules and the way it will take place, so make sure you’re better prepared than your opposition.
As we previously stated, most businesses could use an increase in business and are willing to make deals so now is the time to shop for dresses, earrings, wardrobe, etc. If there were any sellers you’ve been looking at now is the time to message them about discounts or a sponsorship!
As far as the actual competitions go, we have a few suggestions to help you win. Due to many competitions switching to virtual pageants you’re going to want to understand how to get the most out of your lighting and camera positioning and get the best shots. Lighting is critical and underrated so we recommend reading our previous blog post that goes over lighting basics to get a solid foundation. A few things to add to this would be to investigate lighting upgrades. There are several different products that range in price depending on your budget. Soft boxes are on the upper end of pricing but will be effective at eliminating shadows on your face without bleaching your skin out or being too harsh. Selfie clip lights attach to your phone or webcam and are on the cheapest end of the spectrum, and standing ring lights are going to provide the best bang for your buck in the middle of the spectrum. You want to think through the different phases of competition and set up your lighting accordingly.
Camera positioning can have a huge impact on how the judges see you as well. The camera should be at eye level or maybe slightly higher and angled down to make you look slimmer and improve definition. In addition, it’s crucial whoever is holding the camera maintains that angle. There are a ton of products out there to help stabilize your video from basic tripod mounts to stabilizing grips and 3-axis gimbals that will prevent shaky submissions to the judges.
The next thing you want to find is the best location to shoot. The judges understand you may not have unlimited space for your walk and there are limitations of what you can realistically pull off without a professional film crew or a studio. Nevertheless, you do not want to shoot outdoors because you cannot control unexpected noise, car shadows and other distractions to you or to the judges around you. Be professional and ensure you are the only thing capturing the attention of the judges and make sure everything around is clean and pristine with no clutter. You could even just clean out a whole room and leave it empty because the judges will be considerate given the circumstances. Backdrops are an affordable way to focus the attention on you and off furniture and décor. This does not apply to digital backgrounds you can use through your camera software. Often times these can be even more distracting to the judges than having none.
Our last production tip is to invest in improving the sound quality of your video. A simple lapel or shotgun microphone will make certain you are heard loud and clear without hearing anything around you or sounding like you’re broadcasting from a cave. If you opt for the lapel microphone make sure you get a long enough cord so it doesn’t tug on your dress.
In conclusion, all things equal, the overall production quality of your submission can mean the difference between winning and losing. Things always go wrong with technology so practice your set up and see if anything stands out so you can fix it before the pageant! Make sure your dress, hair, and makeup show up well on film during this period of trial and error. It’s also worth noting that you should be watching the footage so that you perfect it before sending it to the judges.