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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.

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National Science Foundation — Recruitment and visibility advertisements for the National Science Foundation's teacher awards program. Part of a branded campaign.
Award winner
Award winner
National Science Foundation — Press kit, sponsorship kit and event invitation, part of a branded set of materials, for the National Science Foundation's teacher awards program.
National Science Foundation — We provided the sponsor's benefit structure and wrote descriptions in addition to the design services for the National Science Foundation's education awards program. Part of a branded set of materials.
National Science Foundation — Recruitment poster and main brochure, part of a branded set of materials, for the National Science Foundation's teacher awards program.
Award winner
Award winner
Award winner

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.

BSD took the lead on brand development, applying the brand to all materials—award booklets, program booklets, memory book, invitations, website, sponsor’s kit recruitment advertisements, direct mail, stage backdrops, signage and on-site banners. Meanwhile, Tricom Associates developed a comprehensive three-year communications strategy centered on aggressive outreach to local media in the more than 200 state finalists’ communities, a major national and local media surrounding the roughly 100 winners and a targeted advertising campaign in education media.

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.  

Results

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.

Throughout the contract period all audiences—those being approached to make nominations, the awardees, the NSF, the White House, the press and others—were met with cohesive, distinctly branded materials that reflected respect for the teaching profession. The consistent design treatment tied every component of Recognition Week together and delivered a completely new level of awareness and communication outreach.