Up until last Saturday morning, the day after the deadline, I wasn’t sure whether University of Virginia students would be compelled to act by our call for entries into the first ever Digital Talent Show as part of Thomas Jefferson’s Birthday Celebration (#TJBDAY), and it was giving me (us) serious heartburn.
The idea seemed simple enough, and yeah, we thought maybe even cool? To enter the Digital Talent Show, a student just needed to upload a video to Youtube that was two minutes or less and showcased an individual act of talent. Since talent comes in all shapes and sizes, we were looking for videos that contained a wide array of examples. Talent videos could be funny, silly, athletic, musical, serious or whatever so long as they were appropriate for all audiences, did not violate copyright laws and no one was put in danger. We even put some examples on the #TJBDAY website. (More on the copyright part in a future white paper, but a huge component in the planning of #TJBDAY)
Every day for almost two weeks, I’d wake up and check my iPhone for new submissions but they weren’t coming. The deadline was approaching fast. The crowdsourcing component involving the students had taken the work out of our hands. Well, almost.
We wrestled with the concept. Was a Digital Talent Show even appealing to students – to enter a contest like this one and help raise money for need-based student scholarships? There had to be students that wanted to be noticed, but would they come forward? Was the reward big enough? The UVA Bookstore and University Advancement combined to offer a $1,000 first place prize and a $500 second place prize to the winner; the entries that received the most votes (donations). $1 = 1 Vote
It took several weeks to convince everyone around Grounds to give it a try and the entries just weren’t coming. We pounded pavement, handout out cards and flyers, and even did some guerrilla marketing with actors portraying Presidents Jefferson and Washington.
In the end, the in-person marketing effort seemed to work. Finally, over the last few hours before the deadline, the entries trickled in. And they were amazing. #sighofrelief
So today at 4pm we’re announcing the 12 #TJBDAY Digital Talent Show finalists and building momentum for a 36-hour giving campaign on Thursday and Friday of this week. We have no idea what the results will be since there is no history on this approach, but if enough of our students, parents and alums download the graphics and update their social media profile pics and avatars we could have something really cool.
TJ’s Birthday Celebration is this Thursday and Friday – a 36-hour online giving campaign – featuring a student Digital Talent Show to raise money for need-based student scholarships. I hope my higher education friends will follow along on twitter #TJBDAY. Should be interesting!