NEW YORK—Ketchum has launched Mindfire, its first crowdsourcing site. Graduate and undergraduate students with communication and digital skills from leading universities in the United States, the United Kingdom and Asia have signed on to participate in an open innovation community, where real challenges facing Ketchum and its clients are posted for students to tackle, alone or collaboratively.
In exchange for their contributions, students will receive career coaching, personalized training and job alerts from Ketchum, and prizes provided by clients. A Mindfire community member could also be asked to implement a “winning idea,” and in such instances would be compensated to do so.
As an added incentive, every idea posted on Mindfire will result in a donation from Ketchum to Room to Read, Ketchum’s philanthropic partner, to buy a local-language book for needy children in the developing world.
“Mindfire is a community of creative students at top schools on three continents who will bring fresh perspectives to our client challenges,” says Ketchum’s chief innovation officer Karen Strauss, a co-developer of Mindfire along with chief information officer Andy Roach. “We’re really excited to see how they respond to our first posted assignment for our client Wendy's, who asked us to crowdsource ideas for a new product launch.”
The program will begin with a four-month pilot phase. The beta group of participating students was selected by their professors or through creative competitions expressly for their curiosity, eagerness to participate in real-world creativity challenges, and for their knowledge of all types of social and traditional media.
Participating schools include The Media School at Bournemouth University, U.K.; Boulder Digital Works, University of Colorado at Boulder; Cornell University, Ithaca, NY; New York University, New York; Carnegie Mellon University's Heinz College, Pittsburgh; and The Chinese University of Hong Kong.
“We’re increasingly seeing a desire among our clients for a steady stream of new and creative ideas, along with a willingness to accept good ideas from any part of the marketing discipline,” says Roach. “Mindfire is a great example of the fusion of IT and creative idea generation that is so critical to the client-facing aspects of our business.”