Arching Into Education
Charting the future of public relations
Holmes Report
CEO

Arching Into Education

The 1999 New York Tri-State McDonald’s Arching Into Education Scholarship program brought together several scholarships offered by local McDonald’s Restaurant Owners under one branded identity.

Paul Holmes

 

1999 was the inauguration of the Tri-State McDonald’s Arching Into Education Scholarship program.  The program brought together several scholarships offered by local McDonald’s Restaurants under one branded identity, Arching Into Education.  McDonald’s Owners received a greater return on their scholarship investment than in previous years, in terms of publicity, recognition and awareness by consumers and influencers in the community.  MWW used the experience of the 1999 Arching program and input from ’99 Arching scholarship applicants to expand Arching Into Education for 2000 and help McDonald’s Owners achieve their objective to not only to generate awareness and community goodwill, but more important, to give as many students as possible the ability to pursue a college education.

SITUATION

The 1999 New York Tri-State McDonald’s Arching Into Education Scholarship program brought together several scholarships offered by local McDonald’s Restaurant Owners under one branded identity, Arching Into Education.  McDonald’s Owners received a greater return on their scholarship investment than in previous years, in terms of publicity and recognition and awareness by consumers and influencers in the community.

However, the 1999 Arching Into Education Scholarship program did not include the national RMHC/HACER Scholarship program for Hispanic students which was administered by a different organization, encompassed a different application process, and varying communication materials and deadlines.  The reason for this was that much equity had been built for the RMHC/HACER Scholarship program in the Hispanic community and the McDonald’s Hispanic Owners and Operators were unclear how to bring their program under the Arching Into Education umbrella.

RESEARCH

Primary research following the 1999 program indicated that there were students who received Tri-State McDonald’s UNCF Scholarships, but chose not to accept them because they did have enough funding to pursue their education away from home at a UNCF school.  Many students who apply for scholarships count on funding from a variety of sources to complete their financial obligations for college.  We interviewed these students to get input for the 2000 Arching Into Education program.

Behavior bench marking -- telephone interviews with 1999 scholarship winners, non-scholarship recipients and students who won but did not accept the Arching scholarship provided us with significant insight to refine the 2000 scholarship program.

Research conducted with high school guidance counselors illustrated that many students and educators were not fully aware that the scholarship monies were being offered by the New York Tri-State McDonald’s Owners and Operators, but rather, by McDonald’s Corporation.

We investigated national and local scholarships and grants to compare the Arching Into Education Scholarship program challenges to other regional scholarships.

We conducted a media audit to analyze coverage of national and local scholarships and scholarship winners.  We found that local daily and weekly newspapers did in fact cover regional scholarships.  MWW also analyzed media coverage of the 1999 Arching program to see how McDonald’s was positioned by the media.  This provided with valuable insight for the 2000 Arching media relations plan.

PLANNING/EXECUTION

The objective of McDonald’s Owners is not only to generate awareness and community goodwill, but more important, to give as many students as possible the ability to pursue a college education.  The MWW Group’s communications objectives are to maximize media exposure for McDonald’s scholarship investment and ensure that the McDonald’s message impacts the largest number of consumers in the most effective manner.

In order to increase both reach and visibility for the 2000 Arching Into Education Scholarship program, MWW implemented several new facets to the initial program.  First, MWW worked to incorporate RMHC/HACER scholarships for Hispanic students in the program communication materials.  Second, MWW created African American Heritage Scholarships to permit more African American students the opportunity to win scholarships to their school of choice.  Third, MWW extended the availability of applications for all scholarships through distribution to all 1,211 high schools in the Tri-State area and by placing a downloadable application on the McDonald’s website, http://www.mcdonaldsnymetro.com/.  MWW created five distinct materials for the program that explicitly communicated the local nature of the scholarships: a brochure/application that included a headline indicating the program was just for student in the New York/New Jersey and Connecticut area; a poster featuring photographs of past Tri-State scholarship winners with their home towns listed; and a 21 oz. Cup, a menu board lug on and a Drive-Thru window decal which communicated the local nature of the program.

The poster was exhibited in each of the 612 McDonald’s Restaurants and distributed to all 1,211 high schools.  The Cup featuring the Arching Into Education logo included copy on the amount of money local McDonald’s Restaurants are making available to Tri-State students and information on how to apply to the program.  The brochure/application, which incorporated each of the five scholarship programs, positioned the RMHC/HACER program as separate and distinct from the Arching Into Education scholarships, and included separate applications and enrollment criteria.  The agency’s media relations tactics included production and distribution of a VNR, an overall market and grassroots publicity effort, interviews with McDonald’s Owners, Internet media outreach, and strategic marketing of the scholarship application available on the website.

RESULTS

Through this extensive branding campaign and the aggressive media relations campaign that accompanied it, the second year of the Arching Into Education Scholarship program had almost 100% more participation by students than the 1999 scholarship drive.

During the six-week application period more than 13 million consumers in the Tri-State area read or heard about the McDonald’s Arching Into Education Scholarship Program through print and broadcast media placements that resulted in 32.5 million media impressions. 

In addition, 46.8 million consumers were exposed to Arching through promotional materials available in all 612 Tri-State Restaurants, more than 30,000 students received applications and more than 1,200 guidance counselors were informed about the program.  MWW also secured web site postings and links on all college and financial aid sites.  
During the eight-week application drive www.mcdonaldsnymetro.com received 226,758 hits and 27,530 unique visits, due in large part to strategic listings on financial aid, scholarship and general college information web sites.  The second phase of the scholarship program, which consisted of a grassroots media relations campaign that focused on the scholarship winners, reached more than 3.5 million consumers through print and broadcast media placements that resulted in 8.75 million media impressions.  

View Style:

Load 3 More
comments powered by Disqus