“What it Takes” (to WIN the Local Heroes contest)



What it Takes


Earlier this month the team behind National Mobility Awareness Month descended upon a broadcast studio in Orlando where we spent an entire day sharing the message of “Life Moving Forward” with both television and radio stations from coast to coast. We called our efforts a “satellite media tour” because stations either called in or connected cameras via satellite in some highly technical manner that I struggled to follow. We surely kept busy!


The interest was at the highest level it has been in our five years and we talked about the Local Heroes contest more than anything else. Our message was received loud and clear. In interview after interview, we were told that our campaign, not simply for the awareness it generates about the need for (and availability of) custom mobility solutions like vans, lifts, and custom seating, but also for the three vehicle “prizes” which we will award, is second to none in how it improves and changes lives.


Think our day was easy? The photo above shows the team on both sides of the camera and paints a picture of how hard we worked (plus “What it Takes”) for us to share the message. We collectively worked our tails off because we believe so much in this campaign and the life changing meaning of our efforts. If the day were longer we’d have done more interviews!


So why am I sharing this? Quite simply, I’d like to remind everyone who has either entered the Local Heroes contest or is voting for his or her Local Hero (whether a senior, a caregiver or a person with a disability) that to advance in the contest and become a Finalist, the amount of work you need to put in should make our efforts look basic. No, I’m not saying you need to rent out a production studio and roll cameras and tape for the entire month of voting, instead I’m saying you need to work and work and work and work daily, weekly and for the entire month, to get as many votes as you can exhausting every possible resource in the process.


Here are some tips for raising your vote count.


Connect with your local NMEDA dealer. Connecting with a NMEDA dealer means getting a special code with AUTOMATICALLY gets you more votes. NMEDA dealers are also promoting the campaign through their networks and if they can get behind you as a Local Hero, well, that’s more awareness and votes!


Reach out to local media. Your local TV, radio, newspapers and public social media sites would love to share your story but if you don’t let them know what you are doing they can’t help. There’s no right or wrong way to do it so reach out and make it happen! Approach one source a day and you’ll create a buzz!


Blow up your social networks. Since this campaign is almost entirely online, sharing your story through social media channels like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even LinkedIn, and then sending people to your Local Heroes page and voting link will do wonders. Use hash tags like #NMAM16 and/or create your own. But don’t stop there. Have them “share” your story and, who knows, you could go “viral” and get more votes than you ever imagined!


Build your own “army” of soldiers. Sharing your story and promoting your campaign can be overwhelming for one person. There is power in numbers they say and, in your case, the more people you get to help promote your entry the better off you’ll be. Ask friends, family, colleagues and even neighborhood allies to spend 15 minutes a day doing something, anything to get the word out. Phone calls, emails, social media shares, etc. Those of us who live with disabilities know how important it is to be connected with others so here’s an opportunity!


Get a celebrity on board. I’m not joking here, there’s a reason why athletes, singers, movie stars, personalities, and even dancers promote and endorse products and services, it’s because they have a huge network of followers who stay connected. In my local community, our NFL quarterback, Cam Newton, is a great community citizen who has more than 700,000 Twitter followers. Hey, Cam, think you can get behind me as a Local Hero and tweet out to folks about voting for me? Bang, touchdown. Even if only 10% of his followers do it, you may have more votes than you need to win OUR Super Bowl.


Pay a visit to your town hall. Your town staff and elected officials love to hear the stories about those in their communities and they know how to reach townspeople. Roll into town hall and let them know you are a Local Hero who needs their assistance connecting with the community. They will have ideas then work together to let everyone at work, school, church, and/or in your clubs, nonprofits or civic organizations know what you are doing. It takes a village, right?


Get creative. Here’s a true story. One of our past winners was an original founder of the Cher fan club. Yes, back in the days of fan clubs that utilized letters and stamps for those who might remember them. She engaged the network that went to work on her behalf. The votes came in and by the end of voting, she was a Finalist. So, who and what do you know? What are your talents? How can YOU get creative?


OK, so after reading this list of tips and suggestions, I’ll bet you are thinking that we got off easily by having simply to sit in a studio for one day and spread the word. You guys, as Local Heroes, have it much harder because you have to work for an entire month. I’ll agree, you’re partially right, but remember, while news stories come and go, yours is a prize to keep.


Our work continues behind the scenes like yours does in the spotlight because National Mobility Awareness Month is THAT important, THAT life changing, and THAT life affirming. And getting you “on the road” and into the community, your community, in a safe and reliable way is what we are all working to do.


Good luck!


– Mike