ATE Outreach Kit
Step 1: Audit Current Outreach
Here you will see how "ABC Education" used the Sample Audit to understand their current outreach performance and capacity. ABC Education used these tools to develop a strategy, establish a plan, ensure execution, and evaluate their efforts.
Step 2: Develop a Strategy
Tip: Consider what will allow your organization to concentrate its resources on the greatest opportunities to expand and affect your audience. Whenever possible, poll your audience to discover which channels connect with their interests and needs.
Create a formal document with a date on it so that you have a record of your outreach plan. This plan will change over time, so make sure you keep copies so you can return to past ideas, consider new ones, and keep from reinventing the wheel every time you review your outreach strategy.
Step 3: Establish a Plan
Tip: Conduct polls to determine how best to reach your audience. (Do they use social media? Attend conferences? Spend a lot of time checking their e-mail?)
Get together with your team, like ABC Education did, and conduct brainstorming sessions to collect group ideas about what might work. Make sure to write everything down, no matter how silly or far-fetched it seems. That way, you'll have a record for later and a ready-made list of ideas when you expand your outreach even further. This list can also help you determine your timetable and budget (see sample below.)
Brainstorming: What can we do on our budget? What are some strategies and tactics?
- Social media is quick and cost-effective.
- We need goals to make social media use measurable.
- Achievable goals: get coverage from 5 education blogs, establish Facebook page with 100 fans, establish Twitter feed with 100 followers
- Social media is not the only channel for outreach. What are other channels for outreach? (See promotion map below.)
- What kinds of tactics should be used in these channels?
- Publicity release with research results, timed to coincide with conference presentation.
- Webinar to be recorded and posted on ATE Central.
- E-mail and postcard campaign to keep research fresh in the minds of collaborators.
- What is the expected timetable for the activities?
|1||Audience survey||Survey Monkey poll in email newsletter||Feb||5||$250|
|2||ED Blog outreach||Connect with top 5 education bloggers||Feb||10||$0|
|3||Set-up, post 7x/wk, polls||Feb||70||$0|
|4||Set-up, tweet 3x/day,contests||Feb||70||$0|
|5||Postcard||1 brochure or postcard for conference||Mar||20||$2k|
|6||NSF release||1 announcement on research findings||Apr||10||$200|
|7||Webinar||1 pre/post conference offer?||Apr||10||$300|
|8||E-mail campaign||Coordinate w/ 1 conference listserve||Apr||5||$0|
|9||Other Conference Opportunities||Presentation opportunity?||Apr||TBD||$1k|
|Total (priorities only)||175||$3,750|
Tip: Keep an inventory of what creative assets (images, logos, etc.) are available for promotion, with an eye towards repurposing elements for multiple uses.
Now ABC Education needed to consider what messages they needed for each tactic. In this case, the Project Manager (PM) was designated the primary messenger, managing all of the social media communications, with the Director as a secondary messenger, committed to media interviews at the conference.
After they addressed the scope of their plan, starting with a timeline, tactics, activities, and metrics for the social media channel, they identified the activities and staff assignments for a social media workplan.
Sample Workplan: STEM Outreach Campaign
|1/14||Define project scope||All|
|1/21||Create messaging themes, talking points||PM, SA, All|
|1/28||Create tactics, identify activities||PM, SA, All|
|2/10||Identify education blogs||SA|
|2/17||Create Facebook/Twitter accounts, start messaging||PM, SA|
|2/21||Start bi-weekly check-in on metrics, engagement, impact; review messaging||PM, All|
|2/28||Cross-promote w/ partner listserves,feeds||PM|
|3/7||Develop text for Postcard; send to printer||SA|
|3/14||Post about NSF release in social media; Develop text and list for Email Campaign||PM, SA|
|3/21||Contact bloggers with NSF release preview; Record Webinar on Report||PM|
|3/23||Press release to NSF, PR Newswire; Put materials online and on flyer.||PM|
|4/1||Follow-up w/ conference contacts, partners||All|
Step 4: Ensure Execution
ABC determined the following guidelines for executing their workplan:
- For day-to-day management, the Project Manager took charge of posts/tweets on T/Th and the Assistant took charge on M/W/F.
- One Facebook post/day; 5-6 Twitter posts/day, including re-tweets.
- Message mix: incorporate humorous/newsworthy/informative posts (1/3 each), and include specific calls to action, e.g., contest participation.
- All staff members were asked to find and read one related blog or media outlet, and post comments or links to project when appropriate.
- Document and share established message themes for consistency throughout the organization, promotion channels, and promotional materials.
- Create a social media calendar with weekly messages for Facebook and Twitter posts/tweets; use a free publishing tool, HootSuite (see Social Media), to schedule posts in advance.
- When posting on educational forums, blogs, and communities such as Classroom 2.0, ensure that posts lead back to ABC Education.
- Establish bi-weekly meeting to review metrics, tactics, engagement, etc.
Step 5: Evaluate Your Efforts
Tip: Capture metrics on the effectiveness of different channels, tactics, and activities in a document as you go. Host a team meeting/session to evaluate the effectiveness of your overall strategy using these metrics. This will help you adjust your plan as needed instead of waiting until the campaign is over! It will also, of course, be a big help in the evaluation.
After three months, ABC Education revisited their initial outreach audit, the plan, and the metrics. They considered ways to revise the themes and messages based on feedback from teachers and partners, as well as upcoming opportunities. But before they did anything else they celebrated their results!
For PDF versions of this Planning Guide, Best Practices, the Performance Scale and Rubric, and the Sample Brief go to the Resources section.