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Monday, January 23, 2012

Titleholder Public Relations 101 - Your Personal Campaign

  • Ok, so you've won the title of your dreams and are headed to the national pageant, now what? How do you capitalize on your year as the titleholder? How do you get known? 
  • Or you're interested in becoming a much more well-known person in your community to pursue a public office or head a major organization. How do you create good publicity for yourself? 
  • Or what if you're not a titleholder yet, but want to develop better speaking skills and greater self-confidence so you have something to add to your interview (and resume)? 
Then, read on!
Being involved with the Miss America Organization for the past three years has taught so much when it comes to self-promotion, as I made it my job to live my personal platform everyday. Not to mention, having been a titleholder in other pageant systems, but not having a public relations person to book my appearances, forced me to find ways to promote myself. In this past year, no more than three or four days have gone by for me where I have not been at an event, planning a partnership with an organization, making an appearance, or developing my platform of youth empowerment. But, how did I get so busy? How did I create this constant cycle of self-promotion?

Consider this "Titleholder PR 101".
Imagine you are crowned on stage, in front of a live audience...and you now have 15 required appearances before nationals! Or consider you're crowned and have no business manager or PR person to help you grow and develop your platform or book appearances for you during your reign - what do you do?

1. Choose your platform
a. If you had a platform and were making appearances and doing ample self-promotion prior to your win, kudos to you! Keep making those appearances and keep reading below for more info!

b. If you did not have a platform before you competed, after having won is a great time to buckle down on a cause or idea that means something to you. A platform should be something you are comfortable dedicating yourself to for a year and that you are willing to make appearances for and speeches or communication about. For example, do not choose the platform of anti-bullying if you are a bully - how will you realistically present this to the public when asked or attending events...which bring me to my next point....

2. Be authentic
People want you to be authentic - I want you to be authentic. I am so tired of awesome titleholders going out and being stereotyped as airheads or being committed solely to "world peace" (although personally, it's not a bad thing to be committed to). 

People want to know what you're saying is coming from the heart - again, if you are a bully, don't spend your year talking about anti-bullying unless you're making the change yourself.

Book appearances on radio shows, make a blog (and post on it regularly), visit schools and make speeches, communicate with government leaders who agree with your points - make a name for yourself by choosing to spend your time as an authentic supporter of something (your platform, organization, etc).

3. Sing your own praises
Without a PR person at your side, your personal publicity campaign will start with YOU. This means it is YOUR job to promote yourself. 

Self-promotion is essential for a titleholder, someone in business, etc. You can't be shy, embarrassed, or rely on others to start a conversation. Even when you have a PR person, you are the person being promoted, so take on the challenge and do it for yourself. Please note: self-promotion is extremely beneficial, but there is a fine line between promotion and obnoxious behavior. I don't want you to be in people's faces and annoying them, but don't be afraid to toot your own horn. Go to events with the best posture (crown/tiara or not), bright eyes, and standout outfit...and be ready to chat it up and make a name for yourself!

Know who you are. 
  • know your title (and how you are different from other systems)
  • know your qualifications (maybe the person you are talking to needs a speaker on that subject)
  • be involved in organizations, clubs, groups (show them that you are well-rounded and involved; use this as an opportunity to attend meetings, take part in events, and become a part of their social network too)
4. Capitalize on every opportunity
Train yourself to spot opportunities for appearances, platform development, personal promotion etc...then jump! Pounce! Run!

Use every opportunity possible to get speaking experience. Use every opportunity to gain time in the public eye. Use every opportunity to self-promote!

On a side note, choose appropriate events to attend; this means, I don't want to read about your evening at the local pajama party at Club X! =) Go online and search "events in Baltimore" or whatever town you are from and a list from your local county or state will pop up. Use this list to find upcoming events you can attend. Or go to your local library and find local magazines; contact the magazines that have articles or purposes close to yours. Maybe they can interview you or maybe you can find out when the next event pertaining to that subject matter will be held. 

Never stop looking for (appropriate) opportunities to promote yourself!

5. Always be prepared
You never know who you will run into, so carry that business card everywhere. And carry that crown and banner (if applicable) everywhere too; I can't tell you how many times I said..."yea, definitely should have brought it tonight". You never know when you'll need your promotional materials!

And personally, always have a small speech ready to go about the event you are at. You never know when a TV or radio crew will see you and want a testimonial from you about the event, why you choose to attend etc. Wouldn't it be awesome if this happened and instead of denying the camera time you said, "Hi, I'm Susie Awesome, Miss Awesome 2012, and I am here at the Keeper of Awesomeness event because it really ties in with my personal mission in life - to make sure everyone is awesome. This organization really empowers youth to think positive and be awesome!"  Sounds prepared (and like great self-promotion) to me...I'm just saying!

Final thoughts...

As I'm closing out my year as the reigning Miss Allegany County, I will no longer have the privilege or honor of wearing that crown and sash everywhere - so how will I promote myself? I have spent my year campaigning as me...Victory. I have built three businesses on who I am, not who the titleholder this year was. People know that if they need an emcee, judge, makeup artist, public speaker, TV host,'s me!

Publicity is a full-time job. Good self-promotion can create careers...and bad self-promotion can get doors slammed in your face. You want to start creating name recognition ("I know that name from somewhere" syndrome). Good self-promotion can inspire you, excite others, and excite your prospective partners or employers.

Become a walking self-advertisement - yes, having a title can get some doors opened for you, but don't rely on it. When your year is up, you're back to being you. Use your year to create a name for yourself. A great example of this is Miss Maryland 2009, Brooke Poklemba. Brooke used her year to meet everyone possible and to gain extensive public speaking experience - she has now moved to California to pursue her entertainment/hosting career. She took every appropriate opportunity during her reign and less than two years later, she has worked as a TV show host, a model for a large fashion line, has been to events with Condelezza Rice, was a correspondent at this year's Miss America pageant and more.

Publicity never sleeps; it is an all-day, everyday type of thing. That's why when those unfortunate photos pop up, they really explode - the media does not rest. So instead, why not have the media blow up in a positive way about you - you are your best marketing tool! Believe in what you are promoting (yourself) and make this the year/campaign of your life. I don't care if you are a titleholder or are working on becoming one; effective publicity will get you far in life!

Take every opportunity ladies! Title or not, self-promotion and good publicity is everything in life. Make a positive name for yourself - wouldn't it be awesome if you interviewed at your next pageant and you sat down and the judge said, "Oh, I know you! You're that girl who was on the news last week," or "you're the girl who spoke last year at the anti-bullying conference in California (across the country)". Sounds pretty good to me.

With your success in mind,

*credit, where applicable, given to Guerilla Publicity, Second Edition by Jay Levinson et al
*credit, where applicable, given to Brooke Poklemba

Thursday, January 12, 2012

BV Group Tele-Classes

Over the past few months, we've realized that we're only reaching a specific area of girls with our services, but we want to reach all of you! Many of you on our email list, on our facebook page, or reading this blog want to work with BV, but can't make the trip to the workshops, events, in-studio sessions etc. Well, your concerns are over!

Starting this month, BV will begin offering group tele-classes! 

*What is a group tele-class?
A group tele-class will be a one-hour conference call hosted by Victory, once a month. The call will include a mini-lecture (for roughly 20-30 minutes) and then 20-30 minutes for Q&A. The group calls will be like a class or session with Victory, in group/workshop format, with the opportunity to ask whatever you want, from the comfort of your home!

A VERY LIMITED NUMBER OF GIRLS WILL BE TAKEN PER SESSION. Sessions will be held in six-month groupings; we want to ensure that you receive a superb “education”!

There are a variety of topics to cover with your group, including the normal pageant topics and deeper discussions for self-confidence and inner development. We'll explore the worlds of pageantry, modeling, and never know who might stop by on the phone call to answer questions! ;) Sometimes, you’ll even have downloadable worksheets to help you along the way – proof of your “education”!

*What is the point of this?
There are many girls around the nation who are connecting with BV, but cannot travel as often for sessions or workshops. BV wants to reach out to those girls to ensure they too are getting the help they need to be victorious! To ensure that we are reaching BV girls everywhere, these group tele-classes will cover the main pageant topics, plus:
  • surround you with other girls facing the same questions,
  • coach/prep you, at a cheaper rate than the in-studio session,
  • improve your interpersonal skills (listening, critical thinking, questioning etc),
  • and more!
*The Advantages of the Group Tele-classes:
  • No driving or flying! Call with your PJs on and from the comfort of your home!
  • Less "on the spot" work than a studio or skype session
  • Peer learning
  • Inner development and more!
*Who is this for?
Those BV girls who:
  • want coaching or consulting, but can't make the trip on a regular basis,
  • are local girls who can attend sessions often, but just want another outlet to help them succeed,
  • have the desire to succeed and grow this year,
  • want to contribute as well as evolve,
  • want to reach or exceed their goals,
  • want to explore specific topics and diverse views,
  • are willing to keep matters private, when needed.
The group tele-classes will have robust opportunities for conversation and real understanding of subject matters, sometimes even beyond the typical pageant topics of interview, evening gown, and personal introduction.

The group tele-classes really are for every girl who wants to grow and be victorious this year. The classes will go beyond typical pageant material and bring you current events, self-confidence building, and much more. Enough cannot be said about the classes – you do not want to miss out on this opportunity to work directly with Victory and the BV team!

*Ok, what next?
1.     Send any questions or concerns you may have directly to Victory at
2.     Register online:
·      A commitment of at least 3 months required upon registration; this means you must pay at least half the rate of the 6-month session to reserve your spot – a very small number of girls will be taken each session!
·      Upon registration and confirmation of payment, you will receive all the information you need for your group classes!
3.     Call in for your first group tele-class - Thursday, January 26th, 7-8pm

This six-month session is worth over $2,300.00!

However, BV will offer this six-month session for ONLY $240.00!

That’s less than 6 in-studio sessions! Plus, think of how much you’ll save on gas or airfare!

Your deposit of $120.00 is required by Monday, Jan 23, 2012 to reserve your spot among the select group of lucky young ladies!

And yes, you'll receive a few fun gifts when you complete the 6-month session, but heads up, no two 6-month sessions will be alike! There is always new information in this industry and we want to keep you up on it!

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

5 Steps to Getting Those Filler Words Out of Your Interview

It's the fear of most pageant girls...the filler word! While in interviews, we are determined to not use them...but they still come out! How do we handle this?

When thinking about this blog post, I was compelled to say, "get rid of them...never use them, cut them out". However, the reality is that it is human nature to use such filler words. Why? An occasional filler word never killed anyone and honestly, your use of a filler word may make you seem more human. Ok, I am totally not justifying the use of the filler word, but make it a point of yours to realize how much or little you actually use them.

And please, let me be clear, I am not just talking about filler words, but filler phrases too, like "you know", "what I'm trying to say is", "I think/believe" etc. Don't be afraid to jump right into an answer. This comes with practice.

If you need practice, contact me today and let's set something up. In fact, I am so confident that I can help you improve your interview skills and techniques that I'll give you your first 20 minute phone session free. Contact me (Victory) for more info:

Here is a "strategy" to help you reduce the frequency with which you use the fillers...

1. Make a decision to note how often you use them.
Be more conscientious of your usage of the words and sounds that plague your communication skills. I suggest recording yourself answering a few questions and listening back to the recording - make notes: be honest, how many times did you need a filler? Jot that down. Redo the taping with the same questions with the previous usage of fillers in your mind, listen to the new taping, note any difference.

You can always try new sets of questions, give mini-speeches etc for practice.

And yes, recording yourself via video, phone, recorder, etc all count! You could also have a family member ask you questions and make a tally each time you use a me, you'll become more conscientious of it!

Questions for yourself: is my use of these filler words hurting my interview? Do I sound like I'm always looking for the right word? Do I sound as though I lack intelligence? Or is it almost invisible? Be honest.

2. Think about why you are even using them.
What is going on in your mind when you use these fillers? Are you nervous? Are you trying to process too quickly. Are you just spitting out answers? Do you fear that if you don't use filler you'll be interrupted?

The judge will rarely interrupt you - they want to see if you can finish your thought (honestly, we are human and just want to hear you speak). There is no need to signal the judge that you are nervous, need a second, etc.

Judges understand that you are nervous, but I assure you, there is no reason to use a filler to fill dead space. You can honestly breathe for 3-5 before answering a question and it won't be awkward...honest.

3. Prepare better.
Ms. Jerri says it best, "Proper Preparation Prevents Poor Performance".

Perhaps you use those filler words when you are unsure of what to say are searching for the next best thing to say. Your failure to prepare well creates worry in your mind - your brain freaks out, your heart starts pounding, and you begin to dig for words and thoughts from your memory.

Or perhaps you are well-prepared but just nervous. Your nerves cause you to speed up what you're saying and just interject a filler to not sound crazy or over-rehearsed.

Prepare better by getting adequate rest (so your brain can be sharper and quicker) and enough practice (trust me, contact me). You'll also need a light meal before interviews (and yes, brush your teeth after you eat...cornflakes aren't too pretty).

4. Slow down!
Give your brain some time to catch up to what you're saying. Not to mention, give the judges the time to catch on to what you're saying. It may come out of your mouth 33 seconds into the interview, but it may not click with a judge until 55 seconds in the interview. Let them (and you) catch up; slow down, it is ok!

And yes, embrace your pauses. Pausing never killed anyone either; my rule of thumb is 3-5 seconds will keep an interview from going awkward and you'd be surprised how many thoughts run through your mind in 3-5 seconds!

5. Be patient.
You will not stop using your filler words automatically; it is a process.

Try to tape yourself once a week or every few practice interviews; tally your usage each will become less overtime. And please, make a real effort to eliminate the fillers in everyday conversation - not just when being interviewed. You would never want to nail the interview and win the title, but then never be invited to speak anywhere as the titleholder....

I do hope this blog post made sense and connected with some of you. Don't forget: If you need practice, contact me today and let's set something up. I am so confident that I can help you improve your interview skills and techniques that I'll give you your first 20 minute phone session free. Contact me (Victory) for more info:

And even if you don't want the free 20-minute session, just send me an email letting me know what the article meant to you, if it helped etc! I would appreciate the feedback!

With your success in mind,

Monday, January 9, 2012

Monthly BV girl contest ANNOUNCED!

BV is officially launching its Monthly BV Girl Contest!

Each month, BV will choose one lucky girl to be the BV girl...a BV girl is determined...fearless...and victorious, in all that she does.

The winner will be determined by an essay contest - the person who submits the best essay response to the monthly question will be our winner. She will walk away with money towards her next pageant (paid directly to the pageant), a feature in the BV blog, and more!

This contest is free to enter - but you must be a BV girl and you must open your BV emails (failure to open your BV emails means you are not serious about BV...we appreciate you opening and reading through each email!) If you are not on our email list, get on it today by emailing us ( You must also like our facebook page (click here for our FB page)!

This month's question: What is a leader to you? Why do you make a good leader?
*100-300 words
*must be typed in 12pt font, Times New Roman
*winner or runners up will be asked to video tape their response and upload to our facebook or blog
*free to enter
*deadline to enter: January 27th, 2012
*winner announced: Jan 31st, 2012 via facebook etc

Friday, January 6, 2012

Top Five Interview Questions!

Many times, the interview can be the most intimidating competition of the entire pageant! You have to consider what the judges will think, how you should answer, how you should sit etc etc etc...the list goes on forever! 

To ease some of your nerves, I wanted to provide the top FIVE most common pageant should work on these weekly, as your answers do indeed change. Work on formulating your answer to have the best sentence structure and thought possible, but do not sound over-rehearsed; you want to sound confident! If you are questioning whether you sound over-rehearsed or not, call me and let's find out!

1. What three words best describe you?
*don't just list the three words, briefly tell me about how each word describes you

2. What do you want to do in the future/what is your ambition?
*ok, this does not have to be exactly what is on your resume. The judges understand that these things change!

3. What are some of your strengths?
*be prepared to answer the flip side question: "what are some of your weaknesses"

4. If you win this weekend, what will you do with your year?
*don't just say "go to nationals and win"...what else?

5. Why should we select you as the titleholder?
*my favorite question...go on, tell me why!

Use the questions above to get your mind working...of course, there are 100s and 100s of possible questions for interviews and while we could not possibly practice every single possible question in the world prior to your pageant, we can at least get you prepared to handle any question with confidence and poise.

Winning takes practice, it doesn't happen much practice are you willing to put in?

With your success in mind,
Victory and the BV team