In 2022, ECMC Group chose to humanize its Question the Quo public awareness campaign, which was launched in 2020 to empower Gen Z teens to take the education and career path that is right for them versus defaulting to the status quo four-year degree, which might not necessarily align with their goals. To further advance the goals of the campaign and expand its reach, the team launched an effort to give the campaign a “face” in 2022, to meet students where they are. Goals:
- Elevate student stories that align with our data to help drive awareness and credibility in media outreach with a goal of obtaining media coverage of campaign in 100 publications, ranging from vertical media in education to national consumer media.
- Engage with 20 Gen Z individuals who illustrate education and career paths while sharing their stories through a variety of mediums (social media, presentations, media interviews, etc.), in addition to launching Gen Z-specific outreach effort on TikTok with a reach of 30,000 in the first 30 days.
- Raise awareness of postsecondary education options and Question The Quo campaign by driving traffic to the campaign website and education and career planning resources, receiving an average of 500 visitors per month, with most traffic driven by social and earned media.
- Engage with 10 potential industry partners that have student audiences for their own content by providing presentations of survey and campaign that lead to amplification with their own constituencies through owned content.
Based on evidence from other campaigns and measurement of our own communications efforts, we determined that focusing on storytelling and the personal experiences of students would lead to greater reach, more engagement and increased awareness and thereby position ECMC Group as a thought leader focused on helping students succeed in the eyes of students, their families, policymakers and leaders in the education and workforce spaces, as well as supporting students on their education journey–a key tenet of ECMC Group’s mission. Based on this, we identified the clear need for multi-channel communications that highlighted student experiences.
Given the ambitious goals of the campaign – which included the desire to locate pertinent student stories, find social media ambassadors and develop a program that was interesting to Gen Z teens, who are notoriously difficult to reach – staff capacity and resources were of the utmost importance. With a budget of $300,000 we fielded a nationally representative survey of high school students, developed a TikTok ambassador network that featured trusted influencers sharing their career journey and engaged with a media company to gather man-on-the-street interviews with individuals that showcased a wide variety of education and career pathways.
Our communications plan included:
- Fielding a national survey of Gen Z teens that captured their voices and perspectives, ensuring we could speak to the areas that concerned them the most about education and careers.
- Amplifying Gen Z voices through media outreach and coverage that shared key findings from our surveys and encouraged media to speak directly to high school students to hear their real stories and share them.
- Launching a short-form video strategy that aimed to meet teens on the channels most comfortable to them including TikTok, Instagram and YouTube and provide friendly, relatable content–an effort that involved creating a persona that was appealing to students and provided bite-sized resources to help them explore education and career options.
- Developing an ambassador network that involved trusted TikTok influencers sharing their education and career pathways with already established audiences and pointing them to our campaign resources.
- Participating in conversations and events with industry stakeholders in the education and workforce spaces to share information for the organizations to bring back to their constituencies of students and families.
Share Gen Z perspectives that Engage Media
- Brought Gen Z’s voice to a national audience and illustrated a shift in their wants and needs for future education and careers
- Earned 370+ media mentions (90 unique articles) in a variety of high-profile outlets (CNBC, Newsweek, Fast Company, Inside Higher Ed) including 100+ unsolicited articles (did not actively pitch media that covered the survey, indicating credibility)
- Elevated news coverage on social media through 1,200 posts from accounts with a combined followership of 69M+ that received 9,700+ engagements
Engagement with Students
- Captured perspectives from 30+ Gen Z individuals and shared them on TikTok, Instagram, YouTube and through media outreach and event amplification.
- Established ambassador network of four TikTok influencers who shared their education and career experiences, leading to 33,000+ views and 4,300+ engagements in the first 30 days of the ambassador campaign
- Short-form video strategy helped increase engagement rate across our channels by more than 50%
Building Knowledge Through Web Resources
- Drove students to campaign website (which includes education and career exploration resources) through social media, partnerships and industry events
- Average of 550+ website visits per month
- Majority of traffic driven by direct links to the website or social elevation, particularly posts from our campaign ambassadors
Elevating Student Voices Through Partnership
Video for ECMC Group Elevates Student Voices with its Question the Quo Campaign
- Connected with 16 organizations that led to seven invitations to present student perspectives to individuals with potential to put our campaign in front of thousands of students, parents and educators