A variety of titleholders supporting Special Olympics Minnesota. Photo: American Pageants, Inc.
So, you’ve got a title, now what? Odds are, there is probably a stipulation in your contract regarding making appearances to help promote the title within your community. If this is true, you are probably tasked, to some degree, to schedule the appearances yourself. (Read: How to Book Your Own Appearances as a Titleholder) American Pageants, Inc. describes appearances as, “autograph signings, charitable events, corporate functions, educational events, festivals, media interviews, parades, social media activities, speaking engagements, sporting events, soirées, travel adventures, and other pageants within or outside American Pageants.” But how do you do you set one up?
1. Don’t limit yourself to just one kind of appearance.
You may run into road blocks and not meet your requirements if you stick to just one specific target. Don’t be afraid to get creative. “ self-arranged, arranged by the national office, arranged by your state director, requested by an organization or sponsor,” said Sunny Hill, President of American Pageants, Inc. Work together with your directors and even sister queens to set up appearances and let people know you’re available. (Read: 9 Tips to Scheduling More Pageant Appearances)
2. Always send a handwritten "thank you" for everything.
This is an etiquette tip that has gone by the wayside in the modern era of instant gratification. It’s rare we even receive employment rejections handwritten today. About the only thing that actually comes in the mail is political ads and bills. So, you actually have a chance to be a wonderful reason for someone to open their mailbox. “ invitations that are accepted, invitations that are declined, appearances made, and sponsorships,” Hill said. You don’t have to try to make every appearance that is requested. If it’s not good for your image or the pageant’s brand, then respectfully decline. You may also have to decline due to a previous engagement. But, a handwritten note will keep you on the good side of the person who invited you and they could potentially reach out to you in the future. (Read: 4 Creative Ways to Thank Your Pageant Sponsors)
3. Offer your services to your sponsors.
Your sponsors put their money on the line for you, so be there for them. An appearance, shoutout on social media/program books/farewells, "thank you" photo to display, bringing in friends and family to their store or to use their services, generously tipping them as an extra special "thank you" can go a long way in keeping them around as a sponsor for not only you but for the organization. (Read: Pageant Sponsorship Do's and Don'ts) “An ongoing relationship will allow you to get future support easier,” Hill explained. If a sponsor requests your presence at an event, be there and demonstrate your appreciation for their generosity.
4. Contact local festivals, Chamber of Commerce, schools and clubs.
“Lions Club, Rotary International, Kiwanis, charitable organizations such as American Red Cross, Special Olympics, and parade organizers,” Hill said. Festivals, Chambers, and Clubs are often looking for someone to come and speak or be present to help promote the event in some way. (Read: 7 Activities That Help You Overcome the Fear of Public Speaking) Two titles I held were aligned with my city’s Chamber of Commerce and we attended all grand openings in the city and local mixers with the Chamber of Commerce members from surrounding cities. Schools can be difficult to navigate as schedules are often tight and for security reasons, so volunteering in a classroom may be difficult. “Offer to address children in school systems throughout your state, country and beyond with a message important to you: stay in school, get involved in extracurricular programs, celebrate the arts, volunteer for a charity, or Spread the Word to End the Word on behalf of Special Olympics,” American Pageants Inc., suggests in its Appearance Guide. Above all, don’t be afraid to reach out and be willing to discuss with teachers and administrators how you can help. A great entry point is with your former teachers who would love to brag about their past student who is now a titleholder, even if it’s just for five minutes.
Titleholders at the finish line at Special Olympics Minnesota. Photo: American Pageants, Inc.
5. Remember that you are representing more than just you.
When making an appearance, you are representing yourself, those you love, other young women in pageantry and the pageant itself. Don’t do anything to jeopardize your values, morals or brand. (Read: 20 Things That Will Happen to You During Pageant Appearances)
6. The media is a very real thing in today’s world and you don’t need a degree in journalism or a publisher to get news out there.
“Media exposure may include every form of traditional media coverage and all current social media formats,” American Pageants says in its Appearance Guide. Be sure to clear content, written or otherwise, with your pageant office as needed. (Read: Social Media Etiquette Guide for Titleholders) For American Pageants, “Press releases, newsprint, radio interviews, internet interviews, blog posts, social media posts, television interviews, etc. may be allowed with clearance from the pageant office.”
7. Always confirm details.
Even though communication is easier today than it has ever been, be sure to get the details in writing and confirm leading up to the event. American Pageants suggests confirming, “event type, location, time frame, number of attendees, participation expectations, attire, items to bring (i.e. autograph cards, crown, medallion, sash, etc), a space to change or prepare, if there will be food, allowance for a guest or chaperone, point of contact information during the event itself and coverage of costs if expenses exist.” Remember to confirm parking information. This is often forgotten but very important as it is often an unexpected cost upon arrival. (Read: Finding Success in Pageant Appearances)
8. Have fun!
Sometimes appearances may be a bit out of your comfort zone, especially if you’re new to being a titleholder. But relax and enjoy this experience. (Read: A Year in the Life of Miss Teen of America 2015-2016) “Be open to new experiences, new people, and remember to be yourself,” American Pageants advised.
Titleholders cheering on finishers at Special Olympics Minnesota. Photo: American Pageants, Inc.
American Pageants, Inc. American Pageants, Inc, while in a pageant form, dedicates itself to recognizing the scholastic and service achievements of its titleholders while promoting the importance of inclusion in schools and communities. (Read: Miss Teen of America Adds Age Divisions) Age divisions include: Little Miss of America 2018 represents the 7-9-year-old age division Young Miss of America 2018 represents the 10-12-year-old age division Junior Miss of America 2018 represents the 13-15-year-old age division. Miss Teen of America 2018 represents the 16-18-year-old age division. Judging Criteria for Junior Miss of America and Miss Teen of America: Scholastic Record: 15% Service and Achievement to School and Community: 15% Personal Development: 15% General Awareness: 15% Personality Projection and Poise in Evening Wear: 15% Judge’s Interview: 25% "American Pageants doesn’t want to overburden our titleholders with required appearances as we know that each of them are very high achievers and are already extremely active in their communities," Hill said. "We suggest to our titleholders to use their titles to boost not just our national platform but to draw attention to the organizations and events that are near and dear to their own hearts or where they are already heavily involved." (Read: How to Balance Pageant Appearances with Training) Interested in getting involved with American Pageants? The pageant is seeking delegates for the national pageant taking place in November. Contact American Pageants, Inc. for more information about getting involved.
Appearances are important if you want to truly be able to make a difference, and these appearances are sometimes done without the sparkly crown on your head – but it’s certainly in your heart. Take every opportunity you can to discuss, without bragging, your platform and the pageant. Be engaging and receptive of those who show interest in why you are doing what you are doing, but be just as interested in them. Being a titleholder is a balancing act. We balance our personal lives with our public lives, and to successfully be able to do this we need to schedule and follow rules to be the queen we would be proud to look up to if the crown was on someone else’s head. Long may you reign. Good luck!
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