Would you rather see a new film about birth or about cars?
What would your birth business do with $7,500 in video services?
Based in Southwest Michigan, Birth Kalamazoo offers birth and postpartum doula services, childbirth and breastfeeding classes, birth doula training and in-home lactation consulting. They are currently in first place among more than 60 entries in a local contest to win $7,500 in services from Kzoom Video and Social Media, seeking to make a video about meaningful, supported, safe and healthy birth.
Their first place lead is in now in danger, however, as a local import car company that has tapped into the national car forums to get support, getting over 600 votes last night! Now while I can certainly appreciate the sleek lines of a ferrari, I’m guessing you’ll agree with me on the importance of this money going to support changing our birth culture. So we’re coming together to help owner Jessica English and Birth Kalamazoo win this contest and bring the conversation about birth to the forefront.
CLICK HERE TO VOTE NOW
(and share the beautiful memes from their facebook page to help rally your community)
Here’s my interview with Jessica about their experience with the contest and how we can rally to help>>>
What did it mean to you entering this contest, knowing you would have to rely on your community to help make it happen?
I found out about the competition from a billboard celebrating Kzoom’s 10th anniversary. I was intrigued and went to their website to learn more. As it turned out, the contest is a $10K giveaway — $7,500 for the top vote getter and $2,500 for another organization that captures Kzoom’s heart. When I saw that the two-week competition was based solely on Facebook votes, I was excited and nervous. Could we really pull this off? Birth Kalamazoo has always had an active, passionate consumer base. Our students and clients can rally, and they’re certainly social media savvy. I have a background in marketing and public relations, so those skills help. But I wondered about our realistic chances to win. Would entering – and pursuing the win – be worth the social capital we’d expend asking people to help, day after day? I felt like we had a realistic shot at winning this prize. Once my vision for the actual film started to take shape, I knew we had to make the leap.
You’re planning on making a video about meaningful, supported, evidence-based birth. How did you decide on this goal for the prize money?
Our mission has always been about making the birth and early parenting experience better for as many women as possible. As a childbirth educator and birth doula myself, I know that the medical model of birth is not always evidence-based. Women and families can so easily get caught up in the system and swept right into all kinds of unnecessary interventions. The competition allowed the winner to propose any kind of video project they wanted. We could have proposed a film about Birth Kalamazoo, but I really wanted to move this idea to a larger scale – something that would help not just our business or potential clients, but families everywhere. I love loaning my clients and students films like The Business of Being Born and Orgasmic Birth. But I also see a need for a shorter film that can be shown in classes or used as a door-opener for families who want to know more about birth and all their options. Since we’re still focused on simply winning the competition, I can’t say my vision for the film has fully taken shape just yet. But the memes we’ve created to help promote the contest give a peek at some of the themes that are likely to arise: hormones of labor, bonding, healing from birth trauma, doula support, family-centered cesarean and more. Which now that I say all of that, I wonder how in the world we’ll fit this all into a short film! One step at a time!
What have you learned about community engagement to rally support for your cause?
One of the really fascinating things about this contest is that very early two clear front-runners emerged: Birth Kalamazoo and a women’s fitness organization. Both of our organizations have passionate online bases, and I love that the women’s social media community is so powerful! We’ve worked hard to combine e-mail, private messages, an event page and regular posts to get the word out to our base and new voters alike. We watch each campaign to see whether it’s bringing in votes and try to analyze why or why not. We’ve reached out to local businesses and national birth and parenting pages to help us spread the word. We settled pretty quickly on a series of memes that seem to have touched people’s hearts. I’ve learned that a community nurtured over many years can be incredibly engaged and passionate when called to action for a common goal.
But there are other passionate communities out there as well…
Now, in the final days of the contest, an import motors company is making a huge surge to take over first place. They managed to tap in to some national car forums and got 600 votes in one night! Even though they’re currently only in third, if they repeat that performance over the next two nights, our community will end up with a film about cars instead of birth! Will the national birth and parenting community rally with us in the same way that the national car community appears to be rallying? I certainly hope so! We’ll see.
Once the film is made, how do you see it impacting Birth Kalamazoo, vs. the broader conversation about birth?
Although the film will be applicable to birth advocates everywhere, we’re also so excited to have a locally produced film about birth. How fun for new parents to find a DVD made right in their back yard! Because we plan to make the film available to the entire birth world, I’m curious about what it would be like to produce, market and distribute a film – that’s new territory for us! But I’m also trying not to think too far ahead or count unhatched chickens – we really just need to win the contest first.
How does it feel to experience over 2600 votes of support on your behalf?
I am humbled and inspired! People care so deeply about this cause. Birth matters! Many of our supporters have rallied specifically because of the ways that Birth Kalamazoo has touched their lives, or because their doula or educator asked them to help. We are not very comfortable asking for help — we are the helpers! So many people have been rallying, voting and expressing their support. Lamaze International, Karen Brody, Robin Elise Weiss of About.com, YourDoulaBag.com and of course Birth Your Business have all gone out of their way to express public support. It has been a delightful, vulnerable, challenging, empowering and exhausting journey. Hey, that sounds a lot like birth!
How can we help?
We are so close to winning this competition, but this last minute surge from the import motors company is a huge threat. The most important thing your followers can do is vote, vote, vote! They can vote once a day (every 24 hours), until 5 p.m. this Thursday, Nov. 14. If you vote before 5 p.m. today, you can get in a second vote tomorrow before the contest closes at 5. But no matter what the time or how many votes you can get in, please VOTE to help us make this film about meaningful, supported, safe and healthy birth.
We promise to make an amazing short film that will be helpful in your own business. In addition to voting, please share one of our memes and the voting link on your personal Facebook page and business page, asking your friends to help. You can click the “share” button from any of the memes below or those posted on the Birth Kalamazoo Facebook page. If you can tag a few friends who care about this issue, that helps! Or give us a shout out on Twitter, we’re @BirthKzoo. And please spread the word, asking other birth organizations for their support. Every vote through 5 p.m. EST Thursday makes such a big difference. We want this film for everyone in the birth world. It could do so much good.
So please vote, share, spread the word. We believe the world needs a new short film about birth more than it needs a film about nearly any other topic. We appreciate your support and will keep you posted!
- Jessica English is the owner of Birth Kalamazoo. In addition to managing the agency, she is a DONA-certified birth doula, Lamaze-certified childbirth educator and DONA-approved birth doula trainer. She is the organizer of the Kzoo Baby & Family Expo. Before making birth her full-time career, she worked for 15 years in marketing, PR and journalism. She offers consulting services to birth advocates interested in starting their own group or building their business.