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PR Tips for USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice awards (Updated 2024)

The USA Today 10 Best Readers’ Choice Awards are popular throughout the travel industry — and beyond.

As a professional writer, I am a long-time contributor to USA Today and I’m also a 10best / USA Today writer and expert. This means I sometimes have the opportunity to nominate hotels, restaurants, destinations, wineries, products, gifts, and other businesses for many USA Today / 10Best Readers’ Choice contests.

This article contains everything you need to know about USA Today’s 10Best Readers’ Choice contests / awards and the best way to nominate your own products (or your clients’ products).

So how are the nominees selected for USA Today 10Best Readers’ Choice contests? I am often asked this question by PR (Public Relations) pros. It’s important to know that the nominations are not made by “readers,” but by writers, editors, and industry experts.

TIP: You can see the experts’ names and bios, as they are included at the end of each contest (scroll down to the bottom of each individual contest page to see the photos and list of the experts’ names). 

After the nominations are selected, the voting is, of course, done by the readers. So, you may ask, “How do I get my clients nominated for USA Today Readers’ Choice contests?”

Tips for how to be considered for 10Best Readers’ Choice contests: 

There is no “magic button” to get your clients (or your own products into a 10Best Readers’ Choice contest. There are several steps to the nomination process and everything is done ethically.

PR Reps need to DO the following:

Do this first!! First, you want to be honest with yourself (and your client). Ask yourself, Is this business (hotel, restaurant, etc) worthy of this award? IF so, see the tips below. If not, go back and improve your business! After all, It’s not worth your time to nominate a company that can’t compete properly.

  • Establish ongoing, genuine relationships with the writers and 10Best Experts. And if you’re in PR, you should already be doing this with all writers anyway!
  • Invite writers to your business, hotel, restaurant, brewery, etc.., throughout the year on a regular basis — to see your business so that they experience it for themselves. Writers will ONLY nominate a potential candidate if they have personally visited the destination and experienced it. (Do not invite writers or experts under any condition they will “nominate” your business — See “What NOT to do” below).
  • Connect and engage with the writers on social media. Don’t just follow them – start a conversation.  
  • Keep in touch with the writers and experts on an ongoing basis and continue to provide updates about your products, news, and announcements. Offer to be a resource for industry topics. 
  • If your product (or your client) is fortunate enough to be selected for a contest…SHARE and share again to encourage voting! Daily sharing is best, since voting is crucial to your success. Tag 10Best, USA Today, and tag the writer who nominated you. Be sure to thank the writers and experts for the nominations. Ask your clients and employees to vote and share the contest, too. 
  • If you win…share this great news and tag USA Today, 10best and the writers who nominated you! Make sure you keep in touch with them for the next round of contests! 


Things NOT to do for the 10Best contests:

  • Do not email or call the writers AFTER a contest is running to ask why you or your client is not included in the current or previous contest. (Read the tips above and do that instead). 
  • DO NOT invite a writer to your business if you are only expecting a nomination in return. This is unethical — and a nomination is not guaranteed. Don’t do it. Most importantly, please don’t ask for this!
  • DO NOT ask the writers or experts when the next contests will be held. The schedule changes all the time. They don’t know!
  • DO NOT EVER ask a 10Best Expert (or writer) to visit your hotel, destination, or restaurant “in exchange for coverage.” Do not use these words in an email when you invite a writer / journalist / freelancer to anything. You may only use this in a clear “pay for play” situation with an advertiser, influencer or blogger — this means you’re doing advertising, NOT PR.

Please be sure to see the latest 10best contests here! Of course, if you have further questions, please feel free to email me! Thank you for reading!

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