As our magazine comes to an end, Kasie Smith, president and publisher, and Jennifer Reeves, sales director, want to take a look back at all of the wonderful memories the Miss America Organization, the Miss America's Outstanding Teen Organization, and all of our readers have given them through the nine years of publication.
Personal branding is the first step to creating a seamless and consistent foundation upon which to share one’s story and mission with judges. “Branding, for an individual, is the way you want to be identified and how you would like to be perceived,” said Allison Kreiger Walsh of McKenna Walsh Coaching and Professional Management, Miss Florida 2006. “It is what makes you stand out from the rest and celebrates the uniqueness within each of us.”
Once you figure out the common thread you’d like to weave throughout your competition, Allison recommends going public. Create a website or blog on which you could share your story, your beliefs, and your platform. Also, make it known to media sources that you are available for interviews. “It will immediately add credibility to your brand,” Allison said. “If people see you as the expert, they will look to you as an important source of information, whether it be for your personal brand or in business.”
Narrow Your Areas of Interest
In their effort to be well-rounded, many young women today have a hard time narrowing down their areas of interest. While it is important to be relatable on many levels as a Miss America contestant, Allison warns against hindering personal development by having too many irons in the fire: “I always say you don't want to be a Jack of all trades and a master at none.” Instead, dig deep to find who you really are, and refine that to achieve consistency. “Your brand can make all the sense in the world to you,” she said, “but if you are not projecting it properly, it will get lost.”
Live Your Brand
Jennifer McKenna, Allison’s partner at McKenna Walsh Coaching and Miss Virginia 2002, says it is because she incorporates her brand into every aspects of life, from pageantry to family to business, that she is more recognizable. It could also help an individual stay focused on who and what she truly is. “It allows you to develop a strong sense of self so that you can clearly and articulately describe not only who you are, but also portray that same message through your actions and affiliations,” Jennifer said.
Focusing on your brand will not limit your potential, but help to advance your opportunities, Allison said. “When I really focused my branding efforts in a certain area, so many doors opened. I had managed to create a strong brand for myself that was recognizable in the arena that I wanted to be involved in.”
Read more about branding and McKenna Walsh Coaching in the December/January 2012-13 issue of fourpoints!
Written by: Erika Rose is fourpoints magazine's staff writer.
Ever wonder how state and local judges choose titleholders? Want to know what criteria enables them to find the right young woman for the job of Miss Local and Miss State? Join the Miss Connecticut Scholarship Corporation for its upcoming Judges' Seminar and learn everything you need to know about how to be a judge!
If you have ever had the privilege of judging a Miss America preliminary pageant, you know that it is a wonderful opportunity and a huge responsibility. When you are asked to join a panel of judges, you are being asked to choose a titleholder who will represent a community for an entire year and go on to the next level of competition. It's not an easy job, or one that should be taken lightly. Be an able, competent judge by using this guide.
Know the Scoring System
The Miss America Organization has its own unique scoring system, like all pageant systems. Before the day your pageant begins, familiarize yourself with the scoring rubric so you give thoughtful scores to each contestant.
For preliminary competitions, each contestant is judged in all phases of competition (interview, talent, onstage question, swimsuit, and evening wear) and given a score ranging from one to ten. There is no hard and fast rule on what kind of performance deserves a certain score–that is up to your discretion. It is a subjective scoring system, but McNeil Chestnut, a volunteer in North Carolina who often teaches judging seminars, suggests that you start with a five. Before a contestant steps on the stage or in the interview room, is is at a five–average. From there, her score can go up or down. Very low scores (one to three) or very high scores (eight to ten) should be reserved for extreme performances. A good way to avoid comparative scoring is to act as if each contestant is the only contestant in the pageant.
Know What You Are Looking For
Each titleholder within the Miss America system has the same basic job–represent her community during her year of service, work on her platform, and compete at the next level. However, each local or state title has unique responsibilities and requirements. During your judging prep at the pageant, ask pointed questions to the judges chairperson or executive director on exactly what kind of contestant they are searching out. For example, some titleholders do intensive school tours during their year. You will need to find a contestant who is willing and able to travel constantly, can speak to large, diverse groups, and thinks quickly on her feet. You are always searching for the next Miss State or Miss America, but the reality is this: only one contestant goes on to hold that title.
Know the End Game
When you judge a pageant and see your titleholder crowned, it can feel like an ending. In actuality, it's all just beginning for the newly crowned titleholder and the pageant that will support her. In the moment that crown is placed on her head, her entire life has changed. It is imperative that you take your job of judging very seriously. You are giving a pageant system a titleholder that will help further their message and forever be a part of their history. You are making a difference.
To learn more tips for judging preliminary pageants, subscribe to fourpoints!
As a judge, Valerie Hayes has heard contestants make some really bad gaffes during their interview. The worst interview answer she ever heard was given by a stunningly beautiful and talented contestant who impressed the judges with her winning look as soon as she entered the room. However, when asked what made the Miss America Organization special, she said it was the fact that it was owned by Donald Trump and that the winner got to go on to compete in Miss Universe.
Winning the crown is more than beauty and talent alone. You have to develop your content and demonstrate that you're an intelligent woman who can represent the title, Valerie says. Contrary to popular belief, no one votes for an airhead.
Without question, the biggest mistake contestants make while preparing for their interview is under-developing their personal platform. What makes the Miss America Organization a leader is its commitment to community service. As the local, state, and national titleholder, you will be making appearances promoting and marketing your platform, but many contestants spend more time selecting their competition wardrobe than they do strategically planning and developing their platform. You won't be able to get appearances, discuss your marketing plan in the interview room, or compete at the state or national level if you don't correctly develop your platform for your local competition.
You need to sit down at the beginning of your pageant season and really plan out and fully develop your platform. Make sure you have a platform that is unique to you and helps you stand out as a contestant. Don't follow trends when selecting and developing your platform. After all, Miss America is about community leadership, not community, "followship." Really think through how you can make a difference through your platform and what type of appearances people will actually book you for. "Education and awareness" on your topic just isn't enough. Everyone is doing that, so why would you want to do that, too?
Subscribe to fourpoints and read more interview and platform tips from Valerie!
Source: Valerie Hayes
Wednesday, December 7 in the 8 a.m. ET hour*
Tune in tomorrow, December 7, to hear the LIVE announcement of the national judges selected for the 2012 Miss America Pageant on ABC’s Good Morning America during the Pop News segment, in the 8 a.m. ET* hour.
* Please check your local listings
Today at an editorial meeting, the phrase "it factor" came up in conversation. This is not one of my favorite phrases, to tell you the truth. It's one of those things we say that doesn't mean too much. Because, when it comes down to it, can you define "it factor"? I am guessing not.
But, still and yet, it is something we talk about. Many judges have used that phrase to describe our Miss Americas. The French call it "je ne sais quoi" which really just means "I don't know what." And I think that comes as close to a definition as you possibly can - I don't know what it is precisely that makes Miss America sparkle, but she has it.
When Nigel Barker, noted fashion photographer (call me, Nigel), judged the Miss America pageant, he spoke very eloquently about the concept of MIss America and celebrity. As eloquent as he was though (seriously, call me Nigel), he couldn't define the it factor. This is what I think of when someone says it:
•When she enters a room, everyone notices her.
•You feel like you are the only person in the room when she talks to you.
•She makes you want to be a better person.
What are the ways that YOU define the it factor?