November 20, 2017 - 9:15am
Some tips and reflections after this year's Shorty Social Good Awards
On November 15th, Muslim women from around the country attended the Shorty Social Good Awards, an annual award given to various categories of Internet ingenuity and creativity. The women in attendance were there to represent the social media campaign, #CanYouHearUsNow, which was a finalist for “best hashtag for social good” at the Shorty Awards
 
While the campaign ultimately did not win the award that night – the award instead went to the (RED) campaign to fight HIV/AIDS – it was nevertheless a big win to have made it to the finalist stage, not just for ReThink, but for all of the organizations who co-created and amplified the hashtag, including MPAC, MPower Change, the ISPU, and CAIR. We are so grateful to these and other organizations––and many individuals––who raised their voices and showed the word that Muslim women are powerful, vocal, and deserve to be heard. 
 
One of the reflections that all the women at the table shared was how empowering it was to be in the room – while mostly women won the day, going home with various awards (including Samantha Bee’s show, “Full Frontal,” and the Fearless Girl Wall Street campaign by McCann, which won multiple awards through the night), the room was still predominantly white, with few people of color and very little Muslim/Arab/South Asian representation.
 
 
We wanted to share some of the thought process behind the awards, and provide some tips from our experience that we hope will benefit and inspire others to submit their creative endeavors for similar awards and increase our collective presence in rooms like these.
 

Why #CanYouHearUsNow?

 
Along with multiple Muslim, Arab, and South Asian rights organizations, we created #CanYouHearUsNow during the aftermath of Khizr and Ghazala Khan’s speech at the DNC during the 2016 Presidential Election. Mrs. Khan was so heartbroken over the death of her son, U.S. Army Captain Humayun Khan, that she couldn’t speak. Then-candidate Donald Trump insinuated that she wasn’t “allowed to,” due to her faith. 
 
In response, we launched #CanYouHearUsNow to show Trump just how strong and vocal Muslim women are. The hashtag helped Muslim women take back their narrative, at a time when their perceived "oppression" under Islam is used as a means to implement terrible policies, and when they are the most frequent targets of hate crimes and bias incidents. 
 

#Success! 

 
Muslim women around the world tweeted with the hashtag #CanYouHearUsNow, showcasing their diverse voices, talents, and successes. From journalists to activists to academics and more, these women spoke out about how they regularly make the world a better place – and maybe the Republican nominee just needed to listen.
 
Over the course of the campaign, there were 67,100 tweets from about 45,000 users, with a potential reach of almost 390 million impressions. Out of the entire conversation, 61% of those who participated were women. Despite the majority being Muslim women, there were also tweets by Non-Muslim women, Muslim men and Non-Muslim men.
 
But beyond the straight metrics, some of the greatest results were from folks learning more about Muslim women and busting stereotypes. There were tweets from fewer from trolls than anticipated, and more tweets from folks on Twitter applauding Muslim women and tweeting about how much they had learned about how kickass Muslim women can be. This kind of culture shift is exactly what a campaign like this hopes for.
 
We are thrilled that #CanYouHearUsNow was recognized by the Shorty Awards as finalist, particularly because the hashtag’s purpose is just as crucial today as it was during the 2016 Presidential Election. #CanYouHearUsNow is a message to the world: Muslim women are here, they are strong, and they will be heard. Listen up. 

 

How to Apply for Awards

  1. Research: Figure out which awards are best suited to the work you do. Some of the major awards in Internet creativity and digital/social media campaigns include the Webby Awards, the Shorty Awards, the Disruptor Awards, and many others. Sign up for the relevant newsletters and keep ahead of deadlines. Look into past winners in the categories that best suit your particular campaign. For #CanYouHearUsNow, we decided to submit for the Shorty Social Good Awards (which are separate from the general Shorty Awards), as it felt like a better fit for our campaign.
     
  2. Perfect Your Pitch: Don’t sit down and fill out your application in one go. Think through what will be compelling for the judges, what strongly makes the case for your campaign as succinctly as possible (there are usually word limits!). Include polished, professional graphics and videos with your submission to up the wow factor.
     
  3. Plan Your Attendance: Let’s say you make it to the finalist category (hooray!). You have the option of buying just one ticket for yourself and a few for those on your team. With #CanYouHearUsNow, whether we won or lost, we wanted to make a statement – so we bought a table and packed it with ten amazing Muslim women who ran the gamut of diversity and accomplishment. In a room with few people of color, and no other visible religious groups, a table of ten women – some in hijab, some without – stood out. It was also clear that while the Shortys were not overtly political, in this year of vocal women speaking out, and of resistance, many awards went to those in the fight – Samantha Bee’s “Full Frontal,” the statue of the Fearless Girl on Wall Street, and the ACLU all took home multiple awards that night. If more campaigns from the impacted communities are submitted, our hope is that more attention will be given to these causes as well, in circles like PR and marketing, which are just beginning to grasp their importance.
 

Wondering how to start a viral hashtag campaign?

Check out this blog post we wrote right around the launch of #CanYouHearUsNow: How to Build Hashtag Campaigns for Social Impact
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