Addressing (False) Criticisms of Simply the Best Competition

We were recently made aware of some criticisms made of our Simply the Best Competition. While we don’t always feel the need to respond on Facebook, some of the things that were said weren’t new accusations. So, we decided to address them openly.

We at Harrisburg Magazine work very hard to preserve the integrity of Simply the Best. We hired an outside company, Second Street, to help ensure accurate voting results. If you have any questions or concerns, please let us know. We are more than happy to meet with you and address them. But now, let’s deal with some of the comments/complaints we’ve heard.

  1. The awards are given to businesses that advertise in the magazine.

FALSE. This accusation comes up occasionally, which is surprising because it is easily disproved. In fact, we made it easy for you to see this. If you check out the August issue, we indicated the page number an ad can be found next to the business’s name in the results.  If you look, you will notice that most of the winners did not advertise.

  1. Advertising in Harrisburg Magazine ensures you will win a category.

FALSE. Advertising a business does a lot of things if done right. This includes increasing name recognition and bringing in new customers. And these also help you gain votes in Simply the Best. But as much as promoting your business in Harrisburg Magazine will help, it is not a guarantee. We recommend it as one piece of a larger promotional campaign.

Why does it seem so many of the winners advertise in the magazine? If you recall, the voting ends June 15. We publish the results in August. We need that much time in order to contact winning businesses. Many businesses want to promote their win by advertising in the magazine. We appreciate their support because, without it, we would be unable to continue doing this poll. But as much as we appreciate it, we do not require it.

  1. The winners are not determined by the readers.

FALSE. As stated earlier, we hire a company called Second Street to monitor our voting. They handled reader’s polls for thousands of businesses around the world. They help eliminate potential voter fraud and keep it as honest as possible. Voters are required to have a valid email address when voting. The voting is calculated by their system. In 2019, we had approximately 175,000 votes cast in our competition.

  1. Businesses who don’t pay an advertising fee are removed from the ballot.

FALSE. This year, we did require businesses to register, which entailed of them giving us a name, phone number and email of a contact person. We did this to help us quickly contact the winners prior to announcing them. But at no time were they required to pay any type of fee to participate.

We have removed a couple of businesses in the past two years from the ballot because they owe us a large amount of money for a significant amount of time (usually over 6 months). For example, in one case a business owed us for 10 months of advertising and it was over 2 years past due. We don’t enjoy doing this, and only do it when the business refuses to communicate with us over their bill. If a business is having financial troubles, we are happy to work with them.

  1. Under what conditions do you remove a business from the ballot?

It is our goal to have any business who wants to participate in Simply the Best included in our competition. We recently started requiring businesses register (which is free and confidential). Beyond that, we reserve the right to eliminate any business that we feel does not represent the competition in a positive manner.

  1. How are your categories determined?

Each year, we look at what was popular with voters the previous year and what things are trending in our magazine. This year we had a number of categories that were extremely popular and had over 100 businesses nominated. We decided to divide to try and divide the category because of the number of businesses nominated. But dividing a category after the nomination period is difficult to do unless you do it by something that can be clearly identified. In most cases, geography was chosen because it is something that is easy to determine.

If we could, we’d have 1000 categories. Unfortunately, this would be unmanageable given the resources we have. We do reevaluate the categories each year and plan on having a reader’s poll this fall to determine which categories should be added (Expect to see it online in October.)