non-traditional education leads to a healthy community

small metro government department educates the community through professional and personal development classes

Challenge:

In 2012, NCE hired MEPR Agency to serve as the Communications and Public Relations consulting agency. Together, the task was to re-brand the department and provide consistent and positive messaging to counter the community’s frustration; due to a split from Metro Schools all but one location closed and the news story was that the department was no longer operational, which was not true. More specifically, our goals were to establish NCE as a recognizable brand for persons looking for continuing education, regain the trust of the community through consistent and streamlined communications, and to identify new audiences that could appreciate and lend to the growth of the program.

Solution:

Our work started by auditing the current state of the department; collateral, resources, previous media attention, and a review of communication tools and platforms. The evaluation concluded that we needed to create a multi-layered approach to communicate with a variety of stakeholders and audience members. We would need to re-establish relationships and trust with the traditional audience –who were typically 50 years or older - while seeking to reach a non-existent community of potential class participants and instructors between the ages of 25 and 49, and individuals of diverse communities. Additionally, the department wanted to move to more digital technologies, requiring buy-in from all parties, most of whom were not tech savvy.

From there we created a training program. Our consulting philosophy is to work in partnership with the client to ensure a comprehensive approach to strategy and implementation. While we work to implement tactics, it is our belief that the entire team should be trained on how they play a role in the communication process.

We have consistently worked with this agency since 2012 and have been responsible for the following:

  • Facilitated the introduction of new, streamlined brand keywords ‘Connect + Impact + Explore’ and defined their use (since then we have worked to implement a new tagline, mission and vision)
  • Provided staff training and managed social media, specifically Facebook, which started at 236 likes in 2012 and now has more than 1,500 (close to 2,500 across all social platforms).
  • Provided direction, content and layout on the new .gov website
  • Consulted on the best practices to roll out a new online registration system
  • Created an online blog (www.NashvilleCEC.wordpress.com) as a place for storytelling and search engine optimization.
  • Provides timely and relevant news stories each session (Summer, Fall, Spring)
  • Provides creative direction on each catalog, marketing collateral, and media ad
  • Manages the yearly paid media campaigns and copy writes each ad
  • Co-manages the editorial calendar and distribution of key partner communications
  • Provides direction and content on all communication documents from the department like the policy and procedures manual and the employee handbook
  • Coordinates seasonal media pitches, interviews, mentions, and calendar listings
  • Provides ongoing monitoring, editorial calendar, copyediting, and measureable outcomes of our work to be distributed at the annual budget hearings for the Mayor and Council.

Results:

  • NCE has won an Award of Merit from PRSA Nashville and several awards from LERN, an international continuing education trad organization, including awards for outstanding Website, and Marketing and Programs
  • We quadrupled the positive media exposure each semester through earned media placements in almost every local outlet
  • The blog receives about 1000 unique reads a month
  • When we began they were serving about 500 students a year and cancelling more than 30% of classes. They are now serving more than 3,000 students annually and cancel less than 10% of classes.