Partners in Preservation, a ten-year-old community-based initiative created by American Express and the National Trust for Historic Preservation, is dedicated to raising awareness of the preservation needs of historic places. Since its inception, Partners in Preservation has awarded $16 million in support of historic places across the U.S. This year, Partners in Preservation celebrated the National Park Service Centennial by focusing on historic sites within national parks. Twenty national parks participated in Partners in Preservation: National Parks, which held an on-line public vote to help determine the distribution of $2 million in grants.
Main objectives included raising awareness about cultural assets within national parks and soliciting the public's assistance in helping to decide which sites should receive funding through a voting campaign. Primary challenges included showcasing the many different kinds of national parks, from those located in city centers to those that encompass vast swaths of nature and educating the public about the historic landmarks within them and their preservation needs. The measures of success were two-fold: to drive 500,000 votes and to generate significant buzz around the program and sites via social, influencer, paid and earned media relations campaigns. To meet the program's goals, it was imperative that the team establish clear lines of communication amongst the 20 participating parks and their representatives. This required webinars and information packages to socialize the messaging and present templates, social media calendars and assets and collective ideation around supplemental events and activities to help boost local interest, visitation and voting.
Early on, the decision was made to tap a media partner for the first time in Partners in Preservation history. National Geographic was a natural fit as it, too, is celebrating the National Park Service Centennial throughout 2016 and was willing to host and help to build the program's voting portal, encourage voting amongst its readership and organically promote the program at key moments throughout the campaign.
Creative Strategy and Implementation: The inspiration for creative strategy was bridging the past and present to commemorate the first 100 years of the National Park Service while inspiring a vision for The Next 100 Years. The team created an original art series reminiscent of National Park travel posters from the 1930s - 1950s and wove a clear message throughout: "Your Park Needs You." Of the 25 pieces of original art the team created, 20 pieces were dedicated to the individual parks and the remaining 5 served as the backbone of the national campaign.
Social Strategy and Implementation: The team created a campaign mantra that doubled as a call to action: #VoteYourPark. This rallying cry was echoed throughout the campaign and across all activities and encouraged the public's participation. A breakdown of social media strategy is as follows:
Micro community / Influencer Relations: The team identified and outreached to online micro communities and influencers who have an affinity for preservation and national parks to help support the campaign and armed them with campaign and park assets as well as general messaging.
Owned Channels: In order to hit voting goals, the team knew it had to spark grassroots conversations and engagement across American Express, National Trust for Historic Preservation and National Geographic social channels as well as those owned by the participating parks and their partners. To achieve a unified look and feel, consistent voice and to stay on-message but still reflect the individualities of each park, the team seeded to all partners customized assets dubbed 'The Toolkit,' which included campaign imagery as well as art created specifically for each individual park.
Paid Social and Partnerships: The team bolstered these efforts through sponsored partnerships with popular YouTube channel SciShow, Instagram adventurer Jonathan Irish and National Geographic photographer David Guttenfelder, and organic efforts were supported via a paid social program.
Media Relations Strategy and Implementation: The media relations team broke campaign activities into three distinctive periods: Pre-Launch, Launch and Post-Launch. In advance, it conducted outreach across consumer and business press in the form of soft-sounding appointments and embargo pitching, leveraging key leaders and voices including National Geographic's Editor in Chief. An Associated Press piece ran in tandem with the program's announcement, and the media relations team conducted aggressive national and regional media outreach following and throughout. The team also worked closely with partner National Geographic on its editorial support for the program and provided guidance for a series of newsletters and blog posts.
This year's campaign was Partners in Preservation's most successful to date, thanks in part to a seamless collaboration between all four entities, American Express, the National Trust for Historic Preservation, National Geographic and Day One Agency.
Campaign highlights include:
-Delivering $2 Million in historic preservation grants to nine winning parks, including Yellowstone, Great Smoky Mountains, Grand Canyon, Yosemite, Zion, Everglades, Denali and Mount Rainier National Parks as well as the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument
-1.1 Million votes (more than doubling the campaign goal)
-A potential reach of more than 25 Million on Twitter and Instagram combined
-Nearly 1,000 social posts per week using the campaign hashtag (#VoteYourPark)
-Hundreds of pieces of media coverage both nationally and within every participating regional market
-Paid social program that reached 6 Million parks enthusiasts
-Dedicated SciShow segment that has generated 299,000+ views and counting
-Owned channel 'Toolkit' that was overwhelmingly well-received and resulted in more than 5,000 organic social posts in support of the campaign
Other supporters included the National Park Service, the Department of the Interior, the National Park Foundation and the National Park Conservation Association as well as prominent political figures who represent participating markets including San Antonio Mayor Ivy R Taylor and Florida Congresswoman Ileana Ros-Lehtinen.