A platform is a cause, issue or topic you choose to promote during your time as a titleholder. Platforms come in all shapes and sizes. When executed properly, a platform can help you secure your dream title. One famous example lies with Miss America 2013, Mallory Hytes Hagan.
When she started competing in the Miss America Organization, her platform was the Dove Beauty Campaign. While competing for the title of Miss New York 2012, she changed it to Child Sexual Abuse Prevention. The cause was close to her heart and it showed in the interview room.
She went on to win the title of Miss New York 2012 and eventually was the first of three successive Miss New Yorks crowned Miss America.
Even more important, your platform does not have to stop after your pageant days have come and gone. Miss Universe 2015 Pia Wurtzbach still continues to work with her platform of Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) Awareness. With the Progressive Information Awareness (PIA) project, she is aiming to educate young people on the importance of HIV testing through social media and youth-friendly videos. (Read: Pia Wurtzbach Continues Platform Work With HIV Testing)
How To Turn Your Passion Into A Successful Pageant Platform
Find your passion
The first step to developing your platform is to find your passion. While there are many great causes and organizations to chose from, in the end, if you are not passionate about the topic, you will not be able to effectively serve the cause as a titleholder. (Read: How to Choose the Right Platform for You)
Miss Jr. America Jr. Teen 2017 Allison Dae found her passion early on. At the age of four, she was diagnosed with Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (JRA). According to the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), JRA is caused by the body’s immune system attacking its own healthy tissue resulting in pain, swelling, stiffness and loss of motion in the joints.
“It was incredibly painful and took a really long time to diagnose because it only affects four percent of the children in America,” Dae said in a phone interview. “And then out of that four percent group, I have the Systemic-onset version which affects 10 percent of those kids.”
Systemic-onset Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis (SOJRA) can be deadly. It begins with spiking fevers up to 103 degrees and a persistent red rash, joint swelling and damage. Once inflammation begins, it can do irreversible damage to joints and internal organs.
Unfortunately, little is known about what causes SOJRA. With little research on the actual cause of the disease, treatment options are limited.
“There is not enough research going on as I would like or I would hope and it’s just terrible,” Dae said.
Define your brand
Defining your platform begins with choosing a title. After finding your topic, a title will help you narrow the focus of your platform. Allison’s own experience sparked her desire to help others going through the same thing. The title of her platform, “More Than A Percentage” holds a special meaning. (Read: Spring into Action with Your Platform)
“Throughout the whole treatment and diagnosis process, the doctors kept bringing up those statistics and those numbers and I felt really boxed in and truthfully, I just felt like a number,” Dae said. “That was a terrible feeling because, on top of feeling ill and not being able to go to school or hang out with my friends at such a young age, I was just always reminded, okay you’re not a person, you’re just another statistic.”
Another important step in defining your brand is defining your message. While promoting awareness about JRA is Dae’s main goal, she has also found a way to relate her message to others.
“I feel like aside from just the JRA everyone is boxed into some sort of label or statistic that we want to get out of to reach our full potential,” Dae said. “It’s encouraging girls, and boys, of all ages to just stand up and let your voice be heard truthfully. You’re more than that label.”
The next step is to define the goals of your platform. The sky is the limit. Ask yourself what you want to accomplish and what you need to do to achieve those goals. (Read: How to Promote Your Platform Through Community Service)
“My ultimate goal with ‘More Than A Percentage’ is to eventually raise enough money and awareness that they find a cure for JRA,” Dae said.
With such a clearly defined goal, Dae then concentrated on what she needed to do to achieve that goal. In order to achieve the level of awareness far-reaching enough to help fund a cure for the disease, Dae knew she needed to win a national title.
“My goal was always to get a national title,” Dae said. “That is really what I wanted to do. Just to be that role model for younger girls across the country.”
Allison’s dream came true in November of 2016 when she was crowned Miss Jr. America Jr. Teen. (Read: Miss Jr America Jr Teen 2017 Evening Gown: HIT or MISS?)
“I was just shocked,” Dae said. “I fell to the ground in tears just, like, unable to believe that this had finally happened and that my goal, like, came true.”
Connections are essential in helping you build an audience for your pageant platform. Local businesses are a great place to start. Soon after Allison was crowned, she was asked to be the spokesmodel for a company called Four Girls On A Mission. The company sells t-shirts with one dollar from every sale being donated to groups that support women’s empowerment and equality.
“I was over the moon,” Dae said. “I was like, yes, I would love to do that. I totally believe in this company. It is a great message.”
The organization saw Allison’s work with her platform and offered to design a clothing line with the “More Than A Percentage” logo. The collection recently debuted in New York City. (Read: 7 Ways to Promote and Develop Your Platform This Summer)
“They were like, ‘WOW! We love this and we want to help you make a t-shirt you can sell so you can really start your charity get it to the 501(c)(3) status’ and, like, push that over the edge.'”
Use your director
Directors are there for a reason. They help connect you to the community and people that will help you get the word out about your platform. Dae’s director has been a tremendous help in spreading the message of “More Than A Percentage.”
“My director at Miss Jr. America System, Tammy, has been so amazing with helping me get this started as well,” Dae said. “She’s always making sure that I’m on the right track and that I’m connected to the right people.” (Read: 3 Misconceptions Contestants Have of Pageant Directors)
Be prepared for challenges
The road to success will always contain a few challenges along the way. In Dae’s case, her age has been her biggest hurdle. (Read: Pageant Question About The Message You Would Spread as a Titleholder)
“The most challenging part has actually been my age because I am only 15,” Dae said.
Due to her young age, Dae has faced many critics at the bank while trying to set up the necessary accounts for a 501(c)(3). She described being bombarded with questions including, “You’re still a minor, are you sure you want to do this,” and “Have you thought about this, it’s going to be a lot of work?”
But Dae did not let the critics stop her from working towards her goal.
“I was like, yes guys, I promise you I want to do this. I’m aware it’s going to be a lot of work and I’m willing to put that extra effort in.”
Make an impact
While not every platform will reach the success of Dae’s, it is important to recognize your impact in the community. As a titleholder or pageant contestant, you have the opportunity to make a big difference in your local or national community.
Dae recalls one fellow contestant who’s brother also lives with JRA.
“Her little brother had JRA and she bought a t-shirt and she came up to me and she said, ‘I love this idea because I’ve seen the suffering that my little brother has gone through and I realize that this has been such a challenge for him in his life and I really appreciate that there is going to be a way for him to hopefully get out of this and other kids too,'” Dae said. (Read: 5 Tips to Perfecting Your Pageant Platform for Interview)
Creating your platform can seem like a monumental task. But with hard work and dedication, you can make a huge impact in your community. More importantly, the key to achieving success is to be yourself.
“My main advice to any girl starting in pageantry is to just be yourself, Dae said. “I know people say it a lot but when you’re up there and when you’re interviewing and talking to the judges about your platform, you can’t shy away from what makes you passionate because that’s what makes you you and eventually they’re just trying to fall in love with the girl who’s going to be the next representation for that organization.”
Best of luck, ladies! Go out there and make a difference.