Vote, Vote, Vote — Tips for Local Heroes

Get out and vote for your Local Hero…

A few weeks ago, when fellow National Mobility Awareness Month spokesperson, Ashley Lauren Fisher, and I were conducting our satellite media tour from a studio in Orlando, I began noticing many of the reporters were asking us the same few questions. What made me take note was that these questions weren’t scripted or prepared ahead of time. Instead, as each learned more about the Local Heroes Contest and National Mobility Awareness Month, and they began feeling personal connections, each wanted to know what he or she could do to help promote it. Many knew personally of individuals or families who could use a new mobility vehicle while others knew friends of friends who are in need. Regardless, they wanted to get involved, and that is a great thing!

Our response to them was straightforward and meaningful.

“If you know a Local Hero, or want to help promote someone who has already been nominated, the way to do it is though voting,” I answered.

Ashley would always add with a smile, “That’s right. Vote! Vote! Vote!”

“Isn’t it enough to nominate someone for the contest?” we’d then be asked.

“Nope, once someone is entered, it’s then all about the vote,” I’d say as a follow-up.

You see, here’s the thing. Advancing as a Local Hero is all about promoting your story and getting votes. Lots of them! Every day for the month of May! If you don’t get votes, you won’t become a Finalist and there won’t be a chance of winning.

So, while there is no right or wrong way to get votes, I have learned from watching the contest for a few years that there are a few strategies that can prove to be very effective.

Here are five tips if you are hoping to get as many votes as possible —-

1. Engage Family and friends – Once your story is on the website, and you have a link to it, don’t be afraid to share that link with everyone you know. Ask them to vote for you, EVERY DAY, and then also ask them to share the link with their friends and get them to ask for votes. The more friends and family you involve, the wider your net will be cast and the more votes you’ll receive. It’s almost like you become a candidate in an election but, in this case, YOU are the story, it’s not politics.

2. Use Social Media – Sites like Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter can be so helpful in expanding your reach. Set up a page or group and share it over and over. Ask your connections, friends and followers to do the same. Have it link to the voting page and ask people to vote. People who use social media, from my experience, love to support and promote and you, as a Local Hero, so go ahead and share your great story.

3. The Media Can Be Your Friend – There is power in television, radio and online news and getting your story out there can be super helpful. The media, by design, is geared to reach out into the community and that’s where you want your story to land. Let a local newscaster tell your story on the evening news, have a community paper share your story in a weekly print, or make an online connection nationally. It’s perfectly fine to get votes from people you don’t know and it’s perfectly fine for your story to get into the hearts of those you may not yet have met. What I have learned both by living with a disability and watching this contest unfold for the past few years is that no one can do it all by themselves and, if you are a Local Hero, people WANT to have a hand in helping see you succeed.

4. Star Power? Star Power! – OK, here’s a good one. Stars, celebrities, athletes, politicians, teams, artists, musicians, etc., have HUGE followings and love to learn about their followers, too. They love to know the types of people who are standing by them (through good times and bad) and they love to give back, too. A Tweet, alone, from a celebrity has the potential to reach tens (or hundreds) of thousands so imagine how many votes you might earn if that Tweet encouraged others to vote for you? I have seen this strategy work in the past so don’t be afraid to take a chance on making it work for you, too.

5. Get Creative and Get Connected – The power of connecting is amazingly strong within schools, churches, workplaces, clubs, organizations and associations so make it work for you! Here’s an example. If you are a school teacher and have 20 kids in your class, and each student tells his/her family to vote throughout the month, even if they are “absent” and miss a few days of voting, over the 31 days of the month, at about 20 votes per day, your classroom, alone, will generate more than 600 votes. Now, add in your five closest teacher friends and their classes, too, and that’s an additional 3,000 votes.

So, get out there, Local Heroes, and get the votes. This year NMEDA will be awarding at least four vehicles and, as they say (and those of us who live with disabilities know firsthand), nothing good comes easy!

Good luck.