First off, thanks to all who voted for the Neighborhood Stories idea. I greatly appreciate your support and the feedback that I received in the comments.
Early in the contest, my idea was in the middle of the pack and it pretty much stayed there. I ended up at rank #41 of 82, with 24 votes. I'm not happy with the number of votes that I received, but I also have learned a lot and am using this as a learning experience and springboard to move forward and use other venues to get this project off of the ground.
So, what did I learn from the process?
- Stick to the theme of the contest. This was a local contest. My idea starts local, but can scale, so I initially tried to sell it as a broad solution. I think this diluted its power. This was especially true for the project name - Mine was very generic and I think got lost in the mix amidst some creative names and others that had specific ties to places with stories of their own.
- Make the initial content more compelling. I chose video because I could get more of the story across in it, as I knew I was limited for what I could submit officially for the contest. J pointed out after the fact that the video insert made the entry look like the posts he specifically ignores on Facebook. The video did get 72 views - more than I got votes, but many people may not have wanted to take even a few minutes to get the initial point. Late in the contest Jenny and I returned to an initial sketch idea that I had had, but that didn't get posted.
- Amplify with supporting materials outside the contest bounds/ as the vote period progresses. I did post a couple of posts here that I thought would supplement the contest entry materials, but I think I could have done more. The video could have been on the blog, instead, and I could have pulled in some starter stories and testimonials to show community support.
- Rally more local support early and often. Midstream I reached out to some media contacts locally and a couple of organizations, but I didn't make a strong enough push. I also need to think of a creative way to break something seeking support into the mainstream media, as that always seems to happen after the fact here. I could take more advantage of clubs, grassroots orgs, neighborhood merchants associations, and the neighborhoods themselves.
- Go grassroots for a local effort. Late in the game, Jenny and I came up with a gorilla idea that was really fun, but it didn't get fully implemented (ran out of time to post) and I think it could have gone further. Flyers, stickers, being at big events. All may have helped.
I'm not done with the idea. I still would like to start local and then scale it for other locations and scenarios. I have new ideas on ways to spread and share the stories after they are gathered. And to get some initial stories out there to kick off the gathering effort and grow interest in the launch event. This still can be very cool.
Thank you for helping me to learn, for the supportive comments, and for the votes that did come.
Watch for Round 2 in the ROC - before the end of summer.