First Environments Early Learning Center
First Environments Early Learning Center is a not-for-profit facility that provides pre-K care and education for U.S. EPA and NIEHS employees in the Research Triangle Park. Sustainability permeates their educational approach and management style.
Delighted parents, fellow educators and environmental educators kept telling them they ought to share their best practices, so after updating their mission statement and website, they took steps to form strategic partnerships. After arranging a field visit for the N. C. Office of Environmental Education, plans were soon made to use the First Environments location to host a statewide conference for early educators interested in environmental education, developing outdoor learning environments, averting childhood obesity and encouraging good nutrition.
A bit of publicist work yielded a story on WTVD 11 ABC news, but to garner more attention, a public affairs show that would discuss the same topics (and feature a First Environments staff member) was proposed.
Assembling a suggested panel of experts in the field (complete with topical backgrounder, individual bios, on-air graphics and resumes) showed the topic’s relevance and made it ‘easy’ to cover. The show was such a success WTVD plans to use it as an evergreen if they need a re-run.
First Environments now enjoys high awareness among the state’s Pre-K educators, its primary environmental educational office and potential grant funders.
N.C. Cooperative Extension Service
Since 1862, Cooperative Extension served North Carolina’s agricultural communities and families by providing land-grant university research designed to increase the value and quality of life for state residents.
By 2007, demand for traditional services dropped as small farms gave way to large agricultural enterprises. Rural populations dwindled as city populations swelled and state resident needs changed accordingly. National economics squeezed federal, state and county funding as survey data revealed low name recognition outside of Extension’s traditional audiences.
Re-branding included updating the mission statement, slogan, logo, and a toolkit of templates was created for staff use to bring consistency and increase name recognition for Extension’s 100 county offices. Lacking a budget for a media campaign, a 15-month publicist effort generated more than $3M in media value through TV, radio, print, Website and social media appearances featuring Extension agents. Name recognition increased and in 2007, agent Mitch Woodward, received the annual newsmaker award from North Carolina News Network, a statewide radio network.
Located in Raleigh’s Cameron Village for 13 years, Village Motor Werks, a long-time Raleigh garage, was forced to move in 2007 due to shopping center redevelopment. Fearing a drop in business, the client wanted to publicize its new location to regular clients and reach out to residents and businesses in their new location.
In short order, VMW had its first website up, a bit of publicist work netted an article in the local paper’s retailing section about the move and regular clients received fliers showing the new location for two months before the move itself.
After moving to their current Boylan Height’s location, VMW held a neighborhood ‘block’ party complete with an auto care clinic, food and bands, to encourage neighbors to drop by for a visit and donate canned food to local hunger prevention efforts. Follow-up “We Feed You, You Feed Them” fundraisers keep the foot traffic flowing.
Business exceeded pre-move levels and the garage was listed as a finalist in local weekly The Independent’s “Best of the Triangle” retail competition within two years. By 2016, the business had grown to such an extent, it was sold at a profit.
Baptist Peace Fellowship of North America
connections negatively affected disaster recovery in New Orleans and share ways to strengthen those connections in their own communities.
Keeping costs low involved approaching TV stations for donations of free B-Roll and using my home as a video stage. An award-winning videographer was hired to tape the principal interview, weave the field interview footage together and seek royalty-free soundtrack music.
Connections – Storms of Injustice: from Hurricane Katrina to Your World is now being distributed to rave reviews from member congregations. Interest from civic groups and emergency responders may lead to direct sales opportunities.
Stormwater Outreach and Awareness
Fronting an unpopular, unfunded federal mandate to the state’s cities, counties and residents required finesse, grit and lots of media outreach. Federal laws require each regulated community to conduct outreach and awareness campaigns to local residents about stormwater, so a new state position was created using federal grant funds to assist county and municipal governments.
Work on a website began while a three-year survey was designed and implemented to gauge state resident knowledge and behaviors. Survey data informed the media campaign created for use by regulated communities with downloads available through the website. The campaign was created by an ad agency that offered to work at a discount, under the direction of an advisory committee. Campaign elements included customizable print, radio, TV, tradeshow and outdoor elements along with a host of editorial content for use in local newsletters, water bills and local newspapers.
To encourage efficiency and effectiveness among local outreach efforts, I helped create a guidance document designed to direct and measure local outreach compliance efforts. Meanwhile, a publicist campaign conducted on the state level netted millions in value through newspaper op-eds, professional publications (Who Owns the Stormwater and Stormwater by the Numbers), TV, radio and personal appearances.
After the grant cycle ended, North Carolina’s outreach campaign had been recommended to other states by the U.S. EPA, subsequent surveys revealed rising knowledge levels and behavior changes in state residents and – after vigorous lobbying by regulated bodies – the state applied for additional grant funding and re-staffed my old position.