Homemade videos praise town

Forest City Development and Schenkein created a viral video competition to celebrate the fifth anniversary of residents moving into Stapleton, a 4,700-acre mixed community development in Denver.

Forest City Development and Schenkein created a viral video competition to celebrate the fifth anniversary of residents moving into Stapleton, a 4,700-acre mixed community development in Denver.

Residents were asked to post videos on YouTube about why they loved living in the community, which now includes 7,600 residents, three shopping centers, six schools, and 500 acres of parks. The winner would receive two motorized scooters purchased by Stapleton.

"Stapleton is a very progressive community," says Leanna Clark, principal and co-owner of Schenkein. "The best ambassadors to sell the community are the people who live there. We had fun with [their love of the community]."

Strategy
The idea was to celebrate while generating buzz inside and outside the community.

The contest would also allow residents to drive a viral marketing channel, which did pose some risk.

"Word of mouth is the strongest thing we have," says JuliAnne Murphy, VP of marketing for Stapleton. "If we're willing to put that out there, [people are] going to take [residents'] word more than ours. I was willing to take that chance."

A related contest allowing Stapleton's 19 builders to create videos about why they love building in the community was also created.

Elaine Ellis, SAE and new media specialist at Schenkein, explains that giving back, a core value for Stapleton, was incorporated in the campaign. Local nonprofits got a donation for every video submitted, and free lessons (funded by Stapleton and conducted by its consultant 360 Media) on making videos and posting them on YouTube were offered to residents and the general public at Stapleton's visitor's center.

Tactics
"We wanted to integrate the campaign into the different opportunities to get the word out," says Clark. "There are so many ways for people who live there to interact."

An introduction and sample video was launched during the first night of Stapleton's summer free movie series. Residents were encouraged to vote on favorite videos and pass them along.

Information was also distributed at a local farmer's market.

Results
Seventeen resident videos and two builder videos were submitted. Prizes donated by Stapleton retailers were also awarded to five other video entries.

The 19 videos generated 15,343 views, 1,175 ratings, 165 comments, and 79 "favorite" video designations.

Nearly 1,700 unique visitors visited the contest page on StapletonDenver.com.

"We were surprised at the quality of videos - they are really good," Clark says. "It was exciting that what people were saying reflect[ed] what we [marketed] about Stapleton as community."

The campaign was also covered in The Denver Post, Shopping Centers Today, Denver Business Journal, and on KUSA-TV, Channel 9 (NBC).

Future

Video entries will remain on YouTube. The best videos from the contest are shown at the Stapleton visitor center. The agency will continue to help promote the community.

PR Team: Forest City Development and Schenkein (Denver)

Campaign: "Why I Love to Live at Stapleton"

Duration: March-Sept. 2007

Budget: $26,000

PRWeek's view
Kudos to Forest City Development for allowing uncensored resident opinion to drive this campaign. Though authenticity is worth its weight in gold, most companies would have a difficult time trusting the public.

A video contest worked well to generate excitement, engender pride, and showcase the community. Stapleton's donations surely appealed to residents and the larger Denver community. Using an existing consultant to train residents and the public was both generous and smart, as it could yield more positive videos.

This effort is a very good example of translating, integrating, and expanding online an already viable community. This team's commitment to explore new ways to drive this community online should serve it very well.

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