I think I've beaten to death all the tales about three years of planning, developing a financially self-sustaining cultural attraction and so forth. If you have questions about that, please read the website first, then email - I'm a little shocked by the number of emails I get that remind me "make sure you put engines in your ship." Um, thanks.
Since our soft launch just over a week ago I've been sort of watching the responses attempting to gauge opinions. We haven't started the full-on media blitz, in fact we've declined interviews in order to prolong the "soft-kill" study and get our ducks in a row for the "hard-kill" barrage to come. What I've seen I can summarize as follows:
(1) once Sailors understand what we're doing - that we're actually building a ship, and how we intend to run our programming - they are excited. VERY excited.
(2) existing sail training professionals are largely skeptical and quietly discussing the program in back rooms. Here in Norfolk, I expected nothing less. Others have engaged, cautiously, to see what we're about - glad to hear from you.
(3) history professionals want to know why we weren't touring a lecture circuit or writing a book. Good ideas, but the immediate effects would have played out on the wrong audience. Don't worry, our groundwork is well in place for both - and they'll come soon enough.
(4) the average person with no vested interest is surprised at our projected price points. Common response "sounds like fun, sign me up!"
Processing responses is a matter of weighing professional demographics (listed above) with appropriate attention to the individual motivations within each category. Once the motivation is factored in, determining relevance is relatively easy - basically asking ourselves "should we care?" The answer for the first and last demographics - US Navy Sailors and the otherwise uninterested general public - is absolutely. That's our market base, our reason for doing this. These are the people we will serve. On the other hand, sail training and history professionals have comparatively little to lend HORNET as a community on the whole - though we certainly have something to give them. And that's not to say we won't need support and assistance from individuals within these categories, but rather to say that a ringing endorsement from those professions as a whole is relatively unimportant compared to the measured impact on our target audiences.
Go back and read that sentence carefully, and make sure you take it all in before emailing.
Special thanks to the special advisement of those people in the aforementioned categories that we've brought onboard so far. Hat tip.
The point is this, we've had some great feedback from the most important people - our target audience - and can definitely say we are on the right track.
Mini-HORNET will be at US Fleet Forces Command until May 20th, after which we'll be breaking it down to hit the road for our fundraising efforts. In the meantime, we've been establishing the partnerships that are going to make this project really take off. In the last week alone, we've finalized plans with several other 501(c)3 organizations, all of which will be made public with our first media release.