Strengthening rural towns through a prize

The Need

Frontier Communications needed to empower the small towns they serve across the US, to grow their own business and deepen their long-standing partnership.

The Solution

A prize challenge, designed to celebrate the good works going on in local communities, and a long-term program to foster further collaboration and growth after the competition.

“We launched America’s best communities to inspire innovation and foster sustainable local growth, while driving increased investment here at home, in America’s emerging markets, our rural communities.”

 

Maggie Wilderotter

Frontier Communications Executive Chairman

Frontier Communications provides broadband service to rural America, so when small towns struggle, Frontier does too. To grow demand, they could have turned to a traditional marketing campaign. But Frontier’s deep relationship with their customer base revealed a better solution: to help revitalize the communities they serve, and protect their own vitality in the process.

Context Partners worked with Frontier to design and launch a prize called America’s Best Communities (ABC), aimed at amplifying the good ideas of successful small towns, and encouraging those facing similar challenges to share knowledge and resources.

The effort began with a call to action, announced through Frontier’s own media channels and through face-to-face discussion at the town level. A robust website and a commitment of several million dollars in prize money, demonstrated that Frontier had real skin in the game.

The application process was designed by Context Partners specifically to encourage local businesses, nonprofits and government agencies to work together. A series of ABC summits and webinars celebrated the achievements of different towns and encouraged further exchange and collaboration.

Launched in 2014 with awards made in 2017, ABC attracted nearly 350 rural communities to apply, from ranching and farming communities to rustbelt factory towns struggling to recover from job losses. Communities that reached the competition’s quarterfinal stage were featured on the ABC website, with their applications published in entirety, to serve as a resource for other interested parties. Finalists gathered at a national awards conference that received extensive media coverage, turning the spotlight on formerly unsung small-town heroes, and earning Frontier millions of viewer impressions, and a genuine impact on the well-being of their customer network.

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