National Science Foundation
Re-energizing a brand on a national level
Given students’ need for increasingly sophisticated scientific and technological skills to navigate life in the 21st century, the importance of high-quality mathematics and science education has emerged at the forefront of public discussion. To encourage the critical teaching talent needed in these subjects, since 1983 the National Science Foundation (NSF) has been administering the Presidential Awards for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching (PAEMST).
By 2003, however, the pool of applicants for the awards had diminished in quantity and racial and geographic diversity. NSF officials felt the PAEMST program needed a higher profile, both nationally and in local communities, among educators and education organizations, in order to achieve the long-term goal of improving the quantity and quality of math and science educators in the classroom. Faced with this challenge, the NSF turned to a team of specialists, including Beth Singer Design.
The BSD solution
To enhance our delivery of services for this national initiative, BSD worked on a multidisciplinary team that included NSF representatives, a professional services firm, a web services firm, meeting planners, an education policy expert and a public relations firm—Tricom Associates. The team determined that the goal required aggressive marketing activities—including more deliberate use of public relations—carefully and strategically planned event-week activities for awardees and a cohesive branding strategy spread across all activities and materials.
In a series of meetings this multidisciplinary team clarified expansion objectives and analyzed communications vehicles for achieving success. Techniques included research in science and math education policy, data collection, and extensive interviews of past awardees and state coordinators. A final presentation of our findings and analysis brought consensus regarding communications strategy and required corresponding tactics.
The BSD production manager’s detailed schedule delivered materials concurrent with the first newly focused Recognition Week for awardees and launch of the outreach campaign for the subsequent program cycle. We coordinated and tracked advertising, recruitment and editorial aspects, reporting to the contractor on a monthly basis.
In our first year working with the PAEMST program, more media attention was generated than in all three previous years combined. In the two subsequent years, our team generated more than 1,000 verified media placements in each year. BSD-designed advertisements and public service announcements were placed in education trade publications and websites to stimulate teacher nominations. On the web, banner advertising drove traffic to the BSD-designed PAEMST site and nomination page, where viewers could nominate a teacher for the award and the press could download the media kit and the PSAs.