Voting now open for Best of Sumter 2019 contest

Sumter Item’s annual readers choice contest has already broken records for public participation

BY KAYLA ROBINS
kayla@theitem.com
Posted 1/22/19

If you have a favorite anything in Sumter County, from your preferred restaurant to internet service provider to school to lawyer and everything in between, now is the time to support your local businesses and professionals by voting for them in …

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Voting now open for Best of Sumter 2019 contest

Sumter Item’s annual readers choice contest has already broken records for public participation

Posted

If you have a favorite anything in Sumter County, from your preferred restaurant to internet service provider to school to lawyer and everything in between, now is the time to support your local businesses and professionals by voting for them in Best of Sumter 2019.

With more than 18,000 nominations coming in this year for more than 2,500 businesses, people or places in 308 categories in areas including auto and transportation, business, community, eat and drink, education, home and finance, medical, professionals and shopping and commerce, The Sumter Item's annual reader's choice contest is already on its way to being the biggest yet - the nomination process already nearly doubled the public participation of the Best of Sumter 2018 contest.

"We've already seen record-breaking community engagement with this year's contest," Publisher Vince Johnson said. "There's an excitement about Best of Sumter for sure, but there's also just a lot of pride around the Sumter community right now."

Voting is open through Feb. 28. Anyone can vote once per day in as many or as few categories as he or she wants. There will also be a ballot in the paper today, Jan. 27 and Feb. 3 that readers can fill out and turn in to our office at 36 W. Liberty St. in Sumter.

"My clients were excited about the new format we changed to last year because it gives them more exposure to their existing and potential customers through the different packages like expanded listings, promotional videos and the red carpet event, and they've already been even more eager this year for the additions we've made to streamline the process," said Karen Cave, a sales representative at The Sumter Item.

Last year's contest, the first year The Sumter Item changed the name to Best of Sumter, broke records for number of categories and votes, with more than 101,000 votes in a total of 264 categories. That will continue and grow this year with the second-annual red carpet event in April to celebrate and announce the winners.

Before that culmination, which will include the exclusive release of the Best of Sumter 2019 magazine, which lists every winner, before it is available to the public, The Sumter Item is holding a first-ever nominee expo on Feb. 21. Any nominee can participate in the open-to-the-public showcase at Central Carolina Technical College's downtown campus to promote his or her product and offer samples, handouts and giveaways to maximize exposure and encourage the public to vote.

The Best Of platform on The Sumter Item's website features the list of nominees in each category in an improved format with faster scrolling and a clean format. Nominees can and have already chosen to participate in advertising packages that promote their entry by expanding their listing to feature additional details on the business and/or a promotional video produced by <a href="theitem.com/studiosumter">Studio Sumter</a>, The Sumter Item's video department.

Taking the public's feedback into account, there were 51 new categories added this year, including event planner, paralegal company, firefighter/EMT, food truck, driving school, feed store, toy store and vitamin/supplement store. Six of the new categories are under a brand new Best of the Best heading that will be announced last at the red carpet event with enhanced prizes, including best expo booth, new business, local industry, place to work, boss and locally owned business.

"There are so many ways to promote their business or service through Best Of, and the addition of the nominee expo is going to be a great way to continue maximizing that exposure," Cave said. "This contest has let the community come together in a positive way to celebrate the businesses and people making Sumter the best it can be."

The red carpet event will be on Thursday, April 25, with the magazine coming out for the public on Sunday, April 28.

For more information or to find out how to get your nominated business or product involved in promotions that will be going on throughout the contest cycle, contact your sales representative, email marketing@theitem.com or call (803) 774-1200. Vote for your favorite business, service, person, restaurant or product now at www.theitem.com/bestof. A public list of nominations is also viewable and searchable.