When I realized I had an opportunity to give away a full access pass (and three exhibitor passes) to BlogWorld & New Media Expo in New York City, I knew it would attract some attention. Still, I wanted you, my dear readers, to think beyond yourselves and nominate someone you thought would really benefit from a BlogWorld experience. So I asked you to nominate clients, friends or other businesses or business people who could use the learning. The contest was really more about exposing new people to social media and blogging, not so much giving away a ticket.

But I never realized the depth and breadth of interesting people, businesses and stories it would uncover. I sat through the nominations Friday evening learning neat things about cool people. I would encourage you to go look at the nominations (made in the comments to the call for entries post).

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As indicated, there is no fairness or democracy in this contest. I decided I would just pick the one I thought was the best candidate. I said I was looking for a brand or business person with a preference for a non-agency/firm/consultant type so they could help a non-marketing or consulting business. The winner would be the one I thought could benefit most from coming. I know the qualifications are pretty vague, but we knew that going in. I also said I didn’t want any campaigning, mostly because I didn’t want more inbox stuff to filter through. No one really did, so thank you for that.

In the end, one nomination stood out, so the winner of the free Full-Access Pass to BlogWorld East was easy. I think you might agree:

I would like to nominate my son Justin Sullivan. He is a remodeler in Louisville ky. He has such as a passion for helping people and has a huge heart. Of course I am biased but the reason I want him to win is last month he was diagnosed with rheumatic fever. It has left him without the abilities needed to be a remodeler. He has been without work for a month and they had told him he was probably going to have to find another line of work. Since he was the only one working in his family it has been tough for him and his 3 kids (with one on the way). He would never let anyone know how it has affected him but as his dad I can tell. He loves remodeling and helping people with their housing problems and I know it kills him not being able to do it. Thats where I think this could help. Justin loves Social Media and has always believed in the affect it has on others lives and I believe he could incorporate it into his business with a little guidance and even though he can’t physically do the remodeling he can still help through his thoughts and ideas. It would be a great opportunity for him to be able to experience something like this. Thanks jason for this contest.

- Jack Sullivan, Louisville, Ky.

There are a number of reasons this one stuck out to me. And while the fact he’s from Louisville certainly was a bonus, that wasn’t one of them. Lots of people are facing some difficult times in a tough economy. There were a couple of nominees who were out of work or between jobs. But when you’re faced with a situation that forces you to never be able to perform what you know how to do, it’s a little different. While rheumatic fever is manageable, its effects can prevent sufferers from strenuous physical activity and working in dusty environments like home renovation sites is problematic, too. Since Justin must repurpose himself as a professional but has valuable knowledge and experience to share, all that is left is for him to be able to figure out how to channel that knowledge into valuable content for his family’s remodeling business. BlogWorld can help Justin become the marketing arm and perhaps even an industry expert and influencer in the remodeling world. The chance this trip could give him a renewed lease on his professional career without having to completely extricate him from the industry makes this a slam dunk.

And besides, the emotional stories always seem to win, don’t they? Three kids and a baby on the way … it’ll get me almost every time.

Congratulations, Justin. And thank you, Jack. Justin is getting a full access pass to BlogWorld & New Media Expo on Social Media Explorer. Frankly, I’m hoping some equally as impressed folks are watching who might even help with the trip’s expenses. (Hint, Hint.)

UPDATE: I’ve just learned that Justin’s air travel will be provided by Southwest Airlines! They heard about the story and offered to help! W00t!

NEW UPDATE! The Roger Smith Hotel has offered to take care of Justin’s hotel room for two nights in New York City! Double-W00t! Kudos to them and Southwest Airlines for being such great supporters of the social media community. This is AWESOME.

As for the runner’s up, here are the three folks who have won exhibition passes, which will get you into keynotes, the exhibition floor where you’ll get to network with just about everyone worth networking with and the BlogWorld parties, which are always a blast. And the BlogWorld gang has assured me that if you want to upgrade the Exhibition Pass to another level, they’ll transfer the value of the Exhibition Pass to save you that amount on your upgrade.

  • About Curves – Nominated by Pam Hazleton, this mom and daughter team operates a plus-size lingerie business. And before you get any ideas about why I chose them, here’s the line that nailed it for me, “They aren’t selling sex. They’re selling confidence.” Hazleton says they know exactly what they’re selling and to whom, but could use more help on the digital marketing front. Well, here’s a little help, ladies. I can only give you one pass, but one of you can come and get your learn and networking on in New York City with us.
  • Greg Hartle – Nominated by Hillary Pitts. Greg is the $10 and a Laptop guy who is traveling the country, starting with just $10 and a Laptop, interviewing 500 entrepreneurs along the way to inspire conscious capitalism. He’s not an internet marketer, but is using the tools and learning as he goes. He could use some more help, polish and understanding of social media and blogging to further his cause, which is one that I think is pretty cool. Congrats, Greg. We’ll see you in New York.
  • Adrienne Sender – Nominated by Jorge Concha. Adrienne might be the person I had in mind for this contest. She is a social media, public relations and email marketing specialist with Stanley Steamer International. Taking someone from a national brand and plugging them into the type of learning BlogWorld provides can build a case study for social media in and of itself. I hope Adrienne can do just that with a pass to the show.

While I’m sure each of the other nominees are very deserving, and I’d love to give everyone a free pass, I had to choose. Whether you agree or not, I think each of our four are deserving and will get a lot out of the experience at BlogWorld.

And you will, too. Please consider coming, register and join us. If you use the code “SMEVIP” when you register, you’ll get 20% off your registration, regardless of the type of pass you buy.

Come see me on the exhibition floor at the ExploringSocialMedia.com booth and please consider coming to my talk on Brands and Blogs as well.

Congratulations to the winners. See you at BlogWorld!

NOTE: I will conduct a similar contest for BlogWorld Los Angeles sometime in September or October. Stay tuned.

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About Jason Falls

Jason Falls

Jason Falls is a leading thinker, speaker and strategist in the world of digital marketing and is co-author of two books, No Bullshit Social Media: The All-Business, No-Hype Guide To Social Media Marketing and The Rebel's Guide To Email Marketing. By day, he leads digital strategy for Elasticity, one of the world's most innovative digital marketing and public relations firms. Follow him on Twitter (@JasonFalls).

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Comments on Social Media Explorer are open to anyone. However, I will remove any comment that is disrespectful and not in the spirit of intelligent discourse. You are welcome to leave links to content relevant to the conversation, but I reserve the right to remove it if I don't see the relevancy. Be nice, have fun. Fair?

  • http://profiles.google.com/mobizon Hasan Mahamud Rasel
  • http://profiles.google.com/mobizon Hasan Mahamud Rasel
  • Lisaklebba

    What great selections! Jason – Hoping to meet you and Justin at Blog World!

  • Katiek20

    Great idea! Very inspiring.

  • http://soloprpro.com KellyeCrane

    Wow, this is really inspiring to me. Cheers to Justin for entering this exciting new phase of his career (which I hope will be bigger and better than he ever imagined), and to his Dad for sharing the story. I truly believe effective use of technology can change people’s lives, and will be interested to hear what happens next. And, BTW, how smart/great is SWA?!

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Thanks Kellye. I’m happy we could do something neat with the pass.

  • Greg Hartle

    Wow! Super pumped about attending. Thanks so much, Jason!

    • http://socialmediaexplorer.com JasonFalls

      Glad to do it, Greg. See you in NYC!

  • Emily Van Winkle

    Congratulations to everyone! And woot woot for Southwest and The Roger Smith Hotel being rockstars!

  • http://profiles.google.com/jorge.a.concha Jorge Concha

    Jason, THANK YOU SO MUCH for picking Adrienne as a runner