Seventy-five percent of adults believe it’s important to help kids learn about managing money, yet only 36 percent of adults actually give kids that financial guidance. Eighty percent of adults know it’s critical that they teach kids about values such as equality, honesty and responsibility, but less that half of adults (45 percent) actually follow through on that teaching. Both research and common sense tell us that kids need adults in their lives. That is why Lutheran Brotherhood partnered with Search Institute to promote the healthy development of children. Through aggressive media and community relations efforts and social outreach strategies, the Grading Grown-Ups campaign has equipped, thousands of volunteers, youth leaders and community organizers with the knowledge, tools and resources they need to help improve relationships between adults and kids in their communities. More than 40 million Americans have heard and read the messages about a different kind of investment our society needs to make, one in relationships with our kids.
For more than 10 years, Lutheran Brotherhood (LB) supported the work of Search Institute, an organization of highly regarded experts in youth research. However, LB has not received the recognition it deserves as a change agent and implementer of programs aimed at improving the lives of kids. Lutheran Brotherhood turned to Weber Shandwick to launch a national awareness campaign announcing LB’s most recent project with Search Institute, called Grading Grown-Ups. Because Search Institute was largely responsible for the study content and authorship, it was a challenge to present Lutheran Brotherhood as more than a “check writer.” Weber Shandwick answered that challenge by positioning Lutheran Brotherhood as the organization that’s taking action and providing real-world solutions to help kids grow up healthy and successful. This campaign not only raised national awareness of Grading Grown-Ups, it also successfully co-branded the study as an equal collaboration between Lutheran Brotherhood and Search Institute.
Research and Planning
· Analyzed Lutheran Brotherhood’s previous efforts to co-brand its support of research projects led by Search Institute.
· Collected information about how Lutheran Brotherhood’s financial and charitable expertise could be incorporated into the Grading Grown-Ups survey instrument.
· Gathered secondary research about what kids learn about money from parents and other adults.
· Incorporated survey questions about financial guidance, volunteerism and benevolence in the study of adults’ beliefs and actions when it comes to relating with kids.
· Analyzed the Grading Grown-Ups research to identify newsworthy research findings and determine content of communication materials.
· Based on our research, Weber Shandwick identified the key messages and objectives listed below.
Key messages to guide all communications efforts:
Why we did the study: Lutheran Brotherhood and Search Institute care about kids and their healthy development. That’s why we’ve conducted the first study to examine how adults’ beliefs compare with their actions toward kids in America.
What it is and what we learned: The study looked at the contrast between behaviors adults believe are important and what they actually do in relating to kids. We learned that most American adults agree to a surprising degree on what kids need from adults. However, most adults don’t act on their beliefs.
What it means: The study helps us understand in more detail the differences between what adults believe kids need from them and what adults actually do to meet those needs. It also suggests a roadmap for improving our relationships with kids.
Campaign objectives to guide all communications efforts:
· Raise awareness about the Grading Grown-Ups study and its findings at a national and local level.
· Create stronger connections between Lutheran Brotherhood and key audiences, including adults who work with or care about kids, Lutheran parents and family/education reporters.
· Position Lutheran Brotherhood as an organization that cares about kids and communities.
· Co-brand Lutheran Brotherhood and Search Institute as sponsors of the study.
To maximize our opportunities for positive awareness of the program, Weber Shandwick and LB employed the following strategies:
· Create a “consumer” name for the study that appeals to reporters and the general public.
· Conduct a multi-tier publicity campaign that reaches key audiences via the news and trade media.
· Position the LB spokesperson as the primary message carrier to co-brand the study in media coverage.
· Drive national coverage by arranging to break the story in a major national daily newspaper.
· Drive local coverage by arranging a same-day release to a major regional newspaper near Lutheran Brotherhood headquarters.
· Create and disseminate practical tools aimed at helping adults improve their relationships with kids.
· Encourage support for the campaign from leaders of various church, youth, government and community organizations.
· Tap into the existing national network of Lutheran Brotherhood and Search Institute volunteers and employees to deliver the campaign’s key messages and begin taking action to improve adults’ relationships with kids.
· Invited the New York Times education editor and a reporter to meet with the LB spokesperson to discuss the merits of the Grading Grown-Ups research.
· Facilitated an exclusive arrangement with the New York Times to break the story on January 9, 2001.
· Identified and prepared a Lutheran Brotherhood sales representative to serve as an example of a “real person” taking steps to develop positive relationships with kids for the New York Times article.
· Arranged an advance release and embargo agreement with the Minneapolis Star Tribune to also publish the story on January 9.
· Distributed nearly 700 media kits—including a news release, a summary brochure, a fact sheet, biographies, and practical tools—to national, regional and religious media across the country to reach all key audiences.
· Targeted education and parenting trade publications to reach adults who work with kids.
· Hosted a press conference for local media, high school student journalists, leaders of youth organizations, church leaders, and community and government officials to announce the study results, distribute media kits and discuss practical solutions to help adults improve relationships with kids.
· Posted the Grading Grown-Ups research findings, communication materials and practical tools—including a self-assessment exercise, a tip sheet for taking action and ideas for congregations—on the Lutheran Brotherhood and Search Institute Web sites.
· Distributed turn-key presentation materials—including a script, PowerPoint slides, a discussion guide and handouts—to support Lutheran Brotherhood volunteers in their efforts to present the research findings and offer practical tools to adults in communities across the country.
· Provided Lutheran Brotherhood sales representatives, employees and volunteers with supplies of the summary brochure and practical tools to distribute to individuals and community organizations.
Grading Grown-Ups was introduced to the nation through significant, favorable coverage in the New York Times and the Minneapolis Star Tribune.
More than 300 people attended the news conference, including local media, leaders from the national and local YMCA, Big Brothers, Big Sisters and Lutheran Social Services organizations, representatives from the National Institute on Media and the Family, leaders from Lutheran church bodies, a chief justice of the state supreme court , state congressional representatives, and high school student journalists.
To date, we’ve earned media clips in nearly 40 media outlets nationwide, including consumer media outlets, religious publications, academic journals, and education and parenting trade publications. All clips included at least one key message. Circulation figures top 16 million, leaving more than 40 million impressions with key audiences.
Lutheran Brotherhood is positioned among its key audiences as an important contributor to the Grading Grown-Ups study, and as an organization that’s taking action and providing real-world solutions to help kids grow up healthy.
Nearly 1,000 volunteer groups have distributed approximately two million pieces of Grading Grown-Ups literature. Volunteers continue to present the study and offer solutions to key audiences in communities across the country. People are talking about the importance of relating to kids, they’re armed with practical tools to address the problem, and they’re taking action in schools, churches and communities nationwide.