Monday 18 February 2013

New help with tackling those tricky tiebreakers

When I first started comping, so long ago that sabre-toothed tigers roamed the aisles of Kwik Save, tiebreaker competitions were everywhere. I used to aim to enter around 10 a week, and it was lack of time rather then lack of competitions that prevented me from entering more.

Because there were so many,  it was  relatively easy to find inspiration. Lists of winning tiebreakers were regularly published in Competitors Journal and small-press publications like Enter-Prize, and some enthusiastic compers collected them together and produced annual books of winning lines, or occasional themed collections on topics like holidays or celebrities. And some produced booklets of useful phrases, arranged by theme, to help us to build our own tiebreakers.

Even just a few years  ago, the Winning Lines section of Grape Vine was two or three pages long every month.

Seeing other winning lines gave us lots of ideas for rhymes, word play and different ways of looking at products and prizes, as well as showing us the kind of things that judges looked out for.

Then the number of tiebreaker competitions slumped to almost zero, especially when the law preventing promoters from requiring a purchase for a straightforward draw was dropped. A draw, after all, is much easier to run. But now tiebreakers are creeping back in, as promoters are realising that the act of writing about a product engages the consumer and makes them think hard about their product - making them more likely to remember it when they next need to make a purchase.

Tiebreaker competitions seldom appear on leaflets in your supermarket any more - you are more likely to find them on Facebook pages, on Twitter and on blogs. And if you can produce a decent entry, you have a very good chance of winning as they generally get only a fraction of the number of entries that a simple draw would. Many of them run for a very short time too, so you need to  be able to come  up with that magic phrase very quickly.

But without collections of useful phrases and past tiebreakers, where can you get inspiration? I often go to my collection of old books, but find  all the phrases are hopelessly out of date. The celebrities mentioned in them are retired or even long-buried,  being technically savvy meant choosing a VHS video recorder rather than a Betamax one and twitter was something only birds and Mah-Jongg tiles did.

Worse still, the old books aren't searchable in the way that we are used to now. Although they are usually indexed, it can still be extremely difficult to find the inspiration you are looking for.

But now help is at hand. Radio presenter Peter Stewart has published Find-a-Line, a bang up to date collection of useful phrases, alliterations, wordplays and rhymes, indexed according to ideas. Aimed not just at compers but at journalists, copywriters, comedians and everyone who wants to keep their writing witty, topical and fresh, the book of around 15,000 phrases is available as a pdf download  in Adobe Digital Editions format for just £5.99 plus VAT, which comes to £7.19.

I've been playing around with it for the last week and I'm very impressed. Not only are the phrases in it much more topical than anything in my old books, but being a pdf it is searchable, so you can go straight to the topic you are interested in. Some of the phrases are VERY witty and I can't wait to give them an airing  in my own entries.

Peter sent me a free copy of the download to review, but not only are all the opinions here my own - now I've seen it, if I didn't already have a copy I would definitely be buying one. It has brought my collection of  comping tools bang into the 21st century at last!

1 comment :

  1. Extremely useful publication Jane, thanks for the link. I just had to download Adobe Digital Editions afterwards in order to store and read the ascm format file.


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