One of our latest projects is working with Diana Nyad, a world record-holding American swimmer and public radio contributor. Diana is planning a record-breaking swim, 103 miles from Cuba to Key West through the shark-infested waters and volatile weather conditions. It’s a dream she’s had for a lifetime and something she attempted in 1978 and didn’t accomplish. She’s attempting this swim again just a few short days after her 61st birthday. Darn inspiring, right? You can read more about her dream HERE. We have been helping Nyad build an electronic infrastructure to keep the public updated and engaged during her journey. The strategy has the familiar ingredients of a blog, FaceBook page, and Twitter profile. Fans can also send support wishes, ask questions and offer financial support to Ms. Nyad’s cause. Since Nyad’s training schedule and travel don’t necessarily allow her to be constantly online, we jump in and pick up the slack when she is not available. We make sure questions, comments, and tweets are all answered, working with her and her team to get the right answers. Considering the overwhelming positive support we have seen thus far – Nyad has found the interaction with her fans to be uplifting and motivating. Thanks to a successful public relations campaign by our partners at 15 Minutes, Diana’s story has been picked up by CNN who is the exclusive media partner, local newspapers, Cuban media outlets, NPR, and blogs all across the world. However, one challenge for us is that the editorial rarely include links or references to Nyad’s web or online presence. Thousands of people read the stories, comment on them, and pass the links around through their own channels, not realizing the multiple sites they could be connecting with on the web. Part of our social media strategy includes a generous portion of monitoring the online world. We find everyone who is “chattering” about Nyad on blogs, Facebook pages and on Twitter. We then engage them and bring them back to Nyad’s community online. This approach expands her base of supporters immensely and quickly, as well as strengthens the connections she has with her fans. We’ve also partnered with major sponsors who have robust online presences. Secret deodarant (Procter & Gamble) has come onboard with strong support for this “fearless” cause, and we’ve worked with them to develop tools that make sure messages are spread to new fans. A custom Facebook application allows fans to send Diana “sunshine”, support and messages
that will be relayed during her swim via a whiteboard on the boat alongside her! Right now we are in a holding pattern while we wait on the weather to change to allow Nyad to finally complete her dream. But until it does, we keep working with Nyad to make her online community as powerful as possible. When she finally does take the plunge, she’s going to need the well-wishes of all her fans – electronic or otherwise.