Digital Media Award Dilemma

The Media and Technology Innovation Award sponsored by Comcast is a brand new award for FIRST Robotics in 2013. The purpose of it is to replace the Website Award to include new media options for sharing. It is only offered at Championships, however, any team can enter. Because it is a new award, the rules and guidelines are still being formulated completely. The rules for the award were not released until about the time Build Season ended (around a month to prepare and submit).

Not to get too deep but there were some philosophical questions to our entry decision this year. Does one go the safer route and hope that the content speaks for itself? Or do you go the super risky, innovative route and possibly get DQ’ed because you’re dealing in technological semantics?

Choice #1: Graphical PDF

We made a graphic about 4 out of our 5 channels using Microsoft Word. There is not a ton of explanation or words but that’s because we felt there didn’t need to be. Our Media Plan is not very complicated. Our website is the main funnel, the blog contains the majority of our lasting team information, and Twitter is updated all the time. Facebook and Tumblr are updated but not with the care and effort used for Twitter (except that we use Buffer to share Tweets with Facebook).

The second page describes our YouTube plan. Why devote an entire page to an inforgraphic about our YouTube? Simply, it’s been our major focus this year. Even more than our blog and Twitter. We uploaded over 30 edited videos during Build Season. On average, that’s a new video every 1.5 days or so. By using simple graphics and displaying our impact, we felt we were making a bigger statement than writing an essay (not to say that writing an essay is not effective because it is). It’s a team choice.

Is this strategy risky? We think it is. Our team discussed writing an essay but after all of the awards and essays we wrote this season, we wanted to go a different, more graphical, route. Our rationale: Let the channels and content speak for itself.

Choice #2: Interactive PDF

One of our team members used Flash to create an interactive, 1 page, pdf file. **Download the file, then open it using Adobe. **

You simply click on the tabs and each channel’s information is displayed. In the bottom right corner, we placed a “PRINT 2 PAGES” button which prints out Choice #1. Technically speaking, our award submission is a 1 page pdf that prints out as 2 pages. Soooo, technically, it’s still within the rules. Plus it’s completely innovative. The process we used to create it as a pdf was found by Googling different parts but we have yet to find something like what we created.

There are obvious risk factors in this approach. There are 5 tabs on the interactive 1 page document. Does that mean it’s 1 page, or 5? The information in the printed pages is SIMILAR to the information printed out using the “PRINT 2 PAGES” button but it’s not quite the same. So does that mean we are submitting a 3 page pdf? We have worked SO HARD on getting our name out there this year. Our social media has been rocking and rolling since September and has very rarely slowed down. Submitting an entry that might be DQ’ed out of the box is really hard to do after working so hard all year.

Resolution: Choice #1

We went the safer route. We hope we don’t regret it.

You probably won’t. The big reason why you shouldn’t submit something interactive in a situation like this is because you have to include the possibility of printing.