- THE CHALLENGE
Support a new nonprofit to navigate and make an impact in a divisive and saturated education environment.
- KEY RESULTS
- Top tier media placements
- Impressive website traffic statistics
- Positive PR from both sides of the ed reform movement
In 2014, Widmeyer was hired to provide strategic counsel and branding support for the launch of a new organization. Conceived at the Annenberg Retreat at Sunnylands by some of the nation's leading minds in math, science, K-12 and higher education, EdReports.org conducts free reviews of instructional materials, using an educator-designed tool that measures alignment to state standards, usability and other quality criteria. The reports help districts and educators make informed purchasing and instructional decisions that support improved student outcomes, filling a gap that had previously been left to publishers.
Widmeyer provided strategic communications counsel from inception to launch and beyond. We designed the organization’s brand, including the logo, and developed messaging and collateral to ensure the important content of the reports was not overshadowed by more dominant political issues. We established communications channels, including social media handles and an email outreach system. We developed a unique digital platform to make complex and nuanced reports accessible to target audiences. Widmeyer advised EdReports.com as it navigated two very challenging public relations environments: the Common Core and the well-established textbook publishing industry.
To succeed in this complicated environment we ensured that the initial outreach was shaped by the most interested and responsible media and stakeholders. Initial discussion about the initiative was managed by us and focused on the need, the educators and the potential impact. Stories were placed through earned media, social channels and direct engagement of stakeholders. We launched the organization first to a targeted group of stakeholders that we knew to be responsible to similar issues and influential enough to garner attention. Targeting a reporter from a respected education trade newspaper our first share our first-ever news story, was about educators and the process. We followed several months later with the release of inaugural reviews with a heavy emphasis on EdReports.org’s methodology, the analysis and third-party support for the process and findings.
Coverage of our launch and releases included placements in top-quality outlets: Education Week, Politico, The Washington Post. We were careful in our messaging and outreach to avoid advocating for any particular set of state standards. We knew to let the results be the lead, and thus garnered positive posts by oft-critical but influential voices (most notably, Curmudgucation). We have successfully pitched follow-up stories in The Daily Beast and The74.