The method in my winning madness

IT WAS the one that got away.

A trip to the Coachella music festival in California. For any seasoned competition junkie like myself, this was particularly gutting and more so because it came down to a tiebreaker.

Those damn tie breakers. It was definitely bitter and not very sweet when we both had to guess how long is The Verve’s ‘Bitter Sweet Symphony’. Let’s just say the song isn’t on my iPod playlist anymore. But for every near miss, I have been lucky enough in the competition world. It’s all about patience, perseverance and a bit of luck too.

I tend to go for general knowledge type quizzes on the radio but getting through to them is an art form in itself. Having no clear method is a no-no in competition world. Simple things like having the numbers stored in your phone all tend to help you get through.

The most recent competition I won was simply texting in an answer and I was just lucky to have been picked out. It’s the getting through on the phone is usually the hard part and once I get on it’s a game of chance with the questions. Thankfully, the questions suited me last Christmas and I came away with €5,000 after answering 25 questions over two days on Today FM in their ‘100 to 1’ promotion. Mind you, on the second day I was literally sick to the stomach as I came ever closer to the final question.

The key really is to never give up and always try your hand at it — as the cliché goes, ‘if you’re not in you can’t win’.

This wasn’t my first time winning decent money, as I won another €5,000 on RTÉ 2FM on Gerry Ryan’s show a few years ago.

I’m not a professional ‘comper’ — as it’s commonly known — and thankfully I haven’t been banned from entering competitions or have my name on a blacklist, although that seems to be an urban myth.

Compers spend hours every day entering competitions on special forums on the internet and it’s more than a hobby for most.

I’m also no shark, by the way. I’m more like a minnow in the competition world. I attend a lot of table quizzes and they give you a grounding in the for the bigger ones with the large cash prizes. Cash is king after all, although I wouldn’t say no to a sun holiday or new car, but they have eluded me so far anyway.

According to Frank Dillon, head of sponsorships and promotions at Today FM, they get a huge amount of entries to all the competitions that they run on air. “With the current economic climate the promotions we run for our clients are as popular as ever and items like the ‘Odd One Out’ on the Ray D’Arcy Show are continually attracting listeners.

“We don’t operate a blacklist of contestants as it’s impossible to screen numbers to do that and I don’t really think it happens in other radio stations either,” said Dillon. “What’s great about our competitions is that most of the time it involves one simple text so the cost to the contestant entering is kept at a minimum.”

I’m also a strictly no slogan and no tie-breaker kinda guy. They’re simply not for me. God knows I have tried them before, but with little success, so I stick to what I’m good at.

The popularity of social media sites has meant it has never been as easy to enter competitions, with endless opportunities to win prizes on Twitter and Facebook. Gone are the days of sending in postcards or ringing premium rate numbers. It’s simply a click away and free to enter. All it takes is a ‘Like’ on a company’s Facebook page and you’re already in the draw. Or you can simply retweet a post or make a tweet that includes a specific hashtag to enter a company’s competition. If you never win anything, then this could be a start to your winning ways.


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