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#RefreshYourFunny Writing Contest: You spoke, We Listened

In June, we launched #RefreshYourFunny writing contest exclusively with bloggers attending the BlogU conference. As part of our ongoing commitment to partnering with online influencers and gaining honest feedback from parents on issues important to us, we felt this contest was an optimal means of achieving these goals.

We showed conference attendees our #RefreshYourFunny video during the Friday night pep rally and then asked three questions:

“Do you think alcohol has become the punchline on social media? Have your kids asked you about alcohol and do you make deliberate choices about what you share on social?  Will you join us for just one month and refrain from sharing alcohol-related memes on social and ask your readers to do the same?”

Eighteen entries populated our Twitter feed and email inbox over a four week period and we thoroughly enjoyed and appreciated reading each and every entry. We heard from moms, dads, even bloggers without kids and millennials who have grown up with social media themselves. We read entries supporting our overall message. We heard from bloggers who hadn’t considered the potential impact of the alcohol-memes and were intrigued. And we heard from bloggers who entirely disagreed with us. It is only in honest feedback that we can learn to advance our program and improve how we partner with parents on important issues like alcohol education.

So what makes a winning entry? Did you have to agree with us to become a finalist?

Absolutely not.  But first a little more from where we stand.

We knew we were on a slippery slope when we produced the #RefreshYourFunny. Adults deserve and need adult-only space to vent, to joke, to process their days. Further, some who were critical of our video raised very important questions: Do our children learn if we sanitize their world? If we scrub it clean of jokes in the grey area, if we don’t expose them to things that might surprise or confuse them – are we hindering them?

We, too, have wondered and questioned these same things. Hearing criticism of our program only helps us make it better.

Social media is so new that we’re not fortunate enough to have longitudinal research of the impact of a parent’s online life. Like anything in parenting, we have to trust our instincts along with professional guidance, research and our own best judgment.

Research tells us that parents are the leading influence on a child’s decision to drink – or not drink – alcohol. We also know parents begin talking with kids about alcohol around the age of 9. Our goal is to empower parents to model healthy behaviors around alcohol in front of their kids, including not just how much we consume but how we talk about it- both online and in real life.  Though it’s hard to believe when they are two years old, eventually kids as young as nine are online and reading over our shoulders and asking questions and following us on social media.  Our judgment is that there are plenty of jokes to share on social that are genuinely funny without sending the message that our kids drive us to drink.

So how did we select our winners?

First, we’d like to congratulate the grand prize winner Robyn Passante for her piece “It’s A Brave New Sobering World.” We applauded her introspection and honesty in tackling the very crux of why our #RefreshYourFunny campaign hits a nerve: self-censorship.  Next we’d like to congratulate the two runners-up: Leigh-Mary Hoffmann for her piece “Saying Goodbye to a $250 glass of wine” and Susanne Kerns for “Cheers to You.”

Each one of these women submitted a perspective that was new to us, they surprised us with their voice and honesty. We look forward to seeing Leigh-Mary’s new logo and appreciate her own self-reflection.  In Susanne’s case, she launched her criticism and skepticism at our program in a professional tone from which we could learn.  From the onset of this contest, we knew that the mark of a winning entry was one that left us thinking well after we were done reading. Each of these three women achieved that goal.  Each had us thinking about their voice and their narrative for days after we were done reading their pieces; the mark of a unique and compelling written post.

We have gained true, heartfelt feedback from each of the entries and plan to apply these insights towards improving our program.  Thank you for letting us be a part of the BlogU experience and for sharing your thoughts with us. To read all of the entries, search #RefreshYourFunny on Twitter.