Service Employees International Union (SEIU)

Challenge: Engage the public in dialogue to solicit and execute new strategies to strengthen the economy and improve the lives of working people and their families.

Solution: Launch a national call for fresh, common sense proposals, with a $200,000 ideas contest featured online.

Echo & Co. managed both the strategic direction and model development—from concept to implementation—of the contest. Branded, the award-winning contest engaged a geographically and economically diverse community of Americans in a national dialogue to choose the "best idea since sliced bread." Americans from all 50 states posted more than 48,000 ideas to the website and blog. To determine the winners, the pubic cast ballots from every state in the nation during two rounds of online voting.

In addition to developing the idea submission and review process, Echo & Co. also developed a secure, independently verified voting system and managed a staffed helpdesk to facilitate the process. After the three winners were announced on February 1, 2006, Echo & Co. developed a folksonomy tool, which community members used to tag and categorize all 22,000+ citizen-generated ideas, making them accessible to the media and policymakers through a coordinated online/offline communications strategy.

In addition to the more than 100 earned media stories, from Parade Magazine to CNN, the contest attracted the attention of more than 200 blogs and support from organizations including, Democracy for America, and Rock the Vote.

The Since Sliced Bread (SSB) community lived on for several years, evolving from an idea bank into an action center, before it was ultimately transitioned into the Care2 community. Community members could ‘adopt an idea’ and work with others who support the idea to make it a reality in their own communities.

SSB's impact and successes continues to be felt: we developed and implemented a successful congressional advocacy campaign around a minimum wage bill that Sen. Hillary Clinton proposed. Her bill was based on an idea from SSB.

Awards: The Institute for Politics Democracy & the Internet honored the Since Sliced Bread community with a Golden Dot Award for Best Online Community Response Effort. This award is given every year to a campaign that “used technology to solve a local or civic problem."

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