NonPolar Fall Implementation Update – Barger Leadership Institute

NonPolar Fall Implementation Update

The main questions that we sought to answer were: is it easy to understand what is happening in the political landscape? How do we help people engage with politics more? What do consumers need, but are currently lacking to become more civically engaged? These questions drove our summer research, and our conclusions narrowed down the scope of our project and informed the product we wanted to make. While the research confirmed that people were in need of tools/services that make political consumption easier, we also observed a number of established competitors struggling to effectively meet these needs. Products that identify news bias, aggregate news, or distribute political newsletters are often a quick Google search away and have large, dedicated teams that work on these projects. Yet, these organizations still struggle with engaging and maintaining their audience. This drove us to create a product that can seamlessly fit the needs of these audiences, while standing out from the competition. One highlight of the summer that encapsulates this vision was our Team Retreat- a meeting in early August between NonPolar team members and our BLI advisor to come together and establish shared, concrete goals for ourselves and the project. This meeting was multiple hours long, and brought our team closer together by merging our individual ideas and ambitions for NonPolar; here, we agreed on the concept of a newsletter and laid out our plans to build toward a standalone website and collaboration with campus organizations.

In the past month we have been able to release two newsletters with preparation for the third already in motion. We have developed a workflow to execute our goal of releasing a newsletter every two weeks. In addition, we have begun to form connections and build relationships with other groups on campus. On the other hand, some of our goals are in earlier stages of growth. For example, we are expanding our reach on social media, but it has proved to be a more difficult challenge than we previously expected. We are attempting various and different methods to increase our social media following, but we have a long road ahead of us in that department. Another goal that is eluding us is the merchandise we have been striving to create. We have been having difficulties finalizing our logo, which has prevented us from developing merchandise for our brand.

Some challenges we have faced are in our efforts to grow our base of support and get outreach going on the newsletter itself.  We believe that this can be attributed to the fact that we have just introduced our newsletter to the public and that we are still in the early stages of outreach.  We could have potentially mitigated these challenges by starting to promote the product before it was ready, but we felt as though this strategy could be counterintuitive if we were trying to grow naturally and receive feedback early on in terms of what we wanted to improve.

To get back on track, we have started to contact outreach stakeholders and partner with other organizations on campus involved in promoting the same goals that we have.  To that end, we are meeting with several of them in the upcoming week to understand where a partnership could end up being beneficial for both parties and potentially also sponsoring their events in an effort to promote the newsletter.  Additionally, we want to focus group the newsletter to different demographics as we feel as this newsletter can be something for everybody regardless of beliefs, and with these two things, we feel that the newsletter will continue to grow and reach the heights that we believe it can reach.

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