From start-ups to market leaders, innovative education organizations turn to Communications Strategy Group (CSG ®) to increase their visibility and connect to the meaningful conversations that will move their brands forward.
Since CSG’s inception more than a decade ago, the firm’s award-winning Education Practice has been helping clients reach and engage influencers, decision makers, and stakeholders across P-20 education. The Practice serves a diverse set of clients including colleges and universities, school districts, state departments of education, education associations, non-profits, and foundations, and companies that serve education institutions, teachers, faculty, students, and families.
CSG’s experienced education communications professionals combine deep industry expertise with established influencer relationships to successfully develop and execute strategies that achieve their clients’ goals and have a measureable impact.
CSG’s Education Practice specializes in:
- Creative Brand Building and Awareness Campaigns
- Crisis Communications
- Developing and Promoting Custom, Engaging, and Sharable Content
- Event Production and Promotion
- Go-to-Market Strategy and Product Launches, Particularly in EdTech
- Integrated Communications Planning and Campaigns
- Landscape Scans, Competitor Research, and Stakeholder Audits
- Media and Influencer Relations, Including Media Tours
- Network Development
- Research Production and Promotion
- Social Media Strategy and Management
- Thought Leadership Campaigns
- Academic Impressions
- Ashworth College
- Association for Student Conduct Administration
- Bryant & Stratton College
- Carrington College
- Colorado Department of Education
- Colorado State University-Global Campus
- Ecotech Institute
- Education Writers Association
- The GLOBE Program
- Hawaii Pacific University
- HOPE Online Learning Academy Co-Op
- INTO University Partnerships
- The Learning Accelerator
- Money Magazine
- Ruffalo Noel Levitz
- Three Ring
- TIME For Kids
- Tyton Partners (formerly Education Growth Advisors)
- The Center for Teaching Quality
- University of Nicosia
- University Ventures
- Varsity Tutors
- Veritas Prep
- Verus Global
Ecotech Institute: eBooks Campaign "Ditch the Desk"
Challenge: Ecotech Institute, the first and only school in the U.S. solely focused on renewable energy and sustainability, looked to Communications Strategy Group (CSG®) to breathe new life into its student prospecting efforts and help the school connect with potential students and increase awareness about its top programs – wind and solar.
Solution: CSG developed and executed against a robust lead-gen plan, called “Ditch the Desk”, which centered on content marketing. The strategy included the build out of a campaign microsite, gated content landing pages and the creation of resources served in a variety of formats, including eBooks, articles, infographics and videos. CSG designed these resources to meet specific stages of the prospective student journey, ultimately funneling prospects to the comprehensive, gated Wind Power and Solar Power eBooks, which captured prospective students’ information.
To promote the eBooks, CSG used a combination of paid and traditional media outreach. On the paid front, CSG leveraged native and social advertising, display and retargeting, Pandora, as well as sponsored blog posts. CSG also promoted the eBooks through targeted press release announcements and personalized media relations.
Results: CSG’s coordinated strategy resulted in more than 350 eBook downloads in just three months and helped contribute to more than 1,600 leads overall, beating lead goals by 34%.
Year-over-year website traffic increased with a 24% spike in total traffic and an 18% increase in unique traffic. Time spent on site also increased by 24%.
At the end of the three-month campaign, the eBooks home page had the fourth highest traffic volume out of all of Ecotech Institute’s site pages and an article promoted through native advertising had the ninth most traffic.
Through traditional media CSG generated 43 earned media placements, including stories on Clean Technica, Solar Power World and Sustainablog, which resulted in about 144,900 media impressions.
 This was calculated using the industry average view rate of 2.3%.
The GLOBE Program
Challenge: The GLOBE Program is a NASA funded international K-12 science and education program that connects a global network of teachers, students and scientists. GLOBE engaged Communications Strategy Group (CSG®) from fall 2011 to fall 2013 to help foster greater engagement among the GLOBE community, as well as expand awareness of the program and partner activities around the world.
Solution: CSG created and executed against a strategic plan that focused on several key tactical surrounds: message and material development, social media profile development, process optimization and management, website development and management, media relations, online PR, internal communications, video production, and campaign development and execution.
Results: CSG consistently delivered remarkable results across its focus areas. Below are several specific examples:
- Social Media: Following a comprehensive social media audit, CSG designed and established GLOBE’s Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Pinterest, LinkedIn and Google+ profiles; created social media editorial calendars; helped manage the daily posting of compelling content to each of GLOBE’s profiles; and leveraged analytics via both social media and Google to track website and social media efficacy. As a result, engagement grew exponentially – likes on Facebook climbed from 1,240 to more than 120,000; social media referrals to the GLOBE.gov website increased 48 percent; total referral traffic to the website via social networks increased by 37 percent; teacher sign ups increased by 25 percent; and hundreds of users around the world commented, shared and liked content.
- Media Relations: CSG secured coverage for GLOBE in a wide variety of media outlets including Education Week, PBS NewsHour, T.H.E. Journal, Tech & Learning, Edudemic and Ed Tech Times, as well as nearly 20 local U.S. markets related to the participation of teachers in GLOBE programs and initiatives.
- Video Production: To help engage the GLOBE community, CSG undertook multiple video production projects. From conceptualization and scripting to finalization and promotion, CSG spearheaded the development of four fully produced videos, as well as helped coordinate and promote many more video vignettes. Additionally, CSG created campaigns, such as the “I Do GLOBE” campaign, to get the GLOBE community involved in producing and submitting their own home videos with their cell phone video camera. Due to CSG’s efforts, the number of videos GLOBE produced and shared with the GLOBE community and videos created and submitted by GLOBE partners increased dramatically – from 18 prior to fall 2011 to 320 when the engagement period ended.
- Video Promotion: To maximize the impact of the videos CSG produced, CSG also carefully crafted comprehensive promotional plans. For example, CSG released the Salute to Teachers “thank you” video during the 2012 back-to-school season, specifically, World Teachers Day on September 4, 2012. As a result of CSG’s efforts, the video went viral, generating more than 500,000 views across all of GLOBE’s social channels (31,000 views on YouTube alone). Additionally, the video garnered more than 70 media mentions and it was a “Top Video” on Twitter for World Teachers Day 2012. The video also increased GLOBE’s Facebook Likes by 35 percent, drove nearly 50,000 page-views to the GLOBE.gov website and increased requests for new GLOBE accounts by more than 50 percent during the video roll-out.
Project: The EdGrowth Summit (formerly the Venture Capital in Education Summit), an annual education conference, is a project Communications Strategy Group (CSG®) has been involved with from the event’s inception. Initially, CSG served the Summit in an advisory and media relations capacity, including helping event founders Adam Newman and Chris Curran formalize the idea of an event that brings together entrepreneurs, investors, practitioners and other stakeholders in education to connect around ideas of innovation and investment in the space. But, in 2012 CSG’s role grew to include managing every facet of the Summit, from event planning, programming and management to content development, marketing and media relations.
Strategy: The goal of the event was two-fold. First, the event aimed to provide an opportunity for investors in education to meet early-stage companies as a means of promoting industry growth. Additionally, the Summit would serve as a thought leadership platform for the event’s host, Education Growth Advisors, a strategic advisory and consulting firm and investment bank, working across the K-12, postsecondary, corporate and lifelong learning sectors. To both of these ends, CSG planned and managed the latest Summit, including establishing the theme of “Education: A Reality Check,” researching and selecting an event site, assisting in speaker selection and coordination, developing a full marketing plan and launching a media relations campaign.
Results: CSG planned and executed a two-day event on behalf of Education Growth Advisors in January 2013. The event included 7 multi-person panels, a keynote address, networking receptions and two new components for the Summit: the EdGrowth Entrepreneur Open and debate-style sessions called “3 Rounds With…” Both of the new ideas were concepts introduced by the CSG team as a means of increasing attendee engagement and energy.
The new EdGrowth Entrepreneur Open transformed the Summit’s traditional Entrepreneur Showcase into a crowd-funding competition. The Open gave attendees the opportunity to participate in a simulated product pitch. A group of seven finalists for the Open were selected through an open application process judged by representatives of the Summit’s hosts, partners and sponsors and facilitated by CSG. Summit attendees then determined the ultimate competition winner during a simulated crowd-funding-style investment competition.
The “3 Rounds With…” concept tapped into the perspective that unlike any other industry, opinions abound about what is right and wrong for American education. To embody that spirit, CSG designed discussions in which two industry leaders would go “3 rounds” in a debate-style format on the most pressing topics in the space. In a post-event survey, the new session style received some of the highest praise of the entire event.
The team also had to put into effect a crisis communications plan when the event site, flooded by Super Storm Sandy only days before the event, was unable to remain open. After the storm passed, CSG worked to establish a new date and location, notify all attendees and speakers and re-launch the event’s marketing activities. Through these activities and despite the unforeseen challenge of rescheduling, the event boasted its highest attendance rate in its four-year history. Media attendees included reporters from Bloomberg Businessweek, Bloomberg Radio, EdSurge, EducationWeek, GigaOm, The Hechinger Report, Inside Higher Ed and USA Today.
University of Nicosia
Challenge: The University of Nicosia, the largest private university in Cyprus, needed help announcing it would be the first accredited university in the world to accept Bitcoin, an increasingly popular digital currency, as well as that it was launching the first master’s degree in digital currency. The University wanted to secure coverage of the news in media outlets throughout the world.
Solution: Communications Strategy Group (CSG®) developed an announcement strategy and promotion plan targeting every major media outlet and appropriate reporter. The strategy included distributing the release under embargo the afternoon before and aggressive pitching the day of and following the announcement.
Results: CSG’s efforts resulted in upwards of 300 media hits worldwide. Outlets covering the news included the Associated Press, Wall Street Journal, USA Today, Wired Magazine, TIME Magazine, Forbes, CNBC and NPR. The day of the announcement, the news was the #3 story in the world in business and the #1 story in Bitcoin (as tracked by the Google News popularity algorithm). It also trended on Twitter and the TIME story was one of the outlet’s most popular of the week.
Challenge: Kickboard is a school analytics platform that goes beyond the gradebook and enables teachers to collect, analyze and share critical data and create comprehensive student performance profiles. Kickboard began working with Communications Strategy Group (CSG®) in an effort to increase its visibility in the K-12 education space both among school leaders and industry influencers.
Solution: CSG developed a comprehensive strategy to help Kickboard forward its goals. From an aggressive media relations campaign and developing a monthly webinar series, to managing Kickboard’s social media profiles and internal newsletter, CSG has undertaken a diverse set of activities to drive awareness and interest in Kickboard and its platform.
Results: In August 2012, two months into the engagement, CSG booked a two-day influencer tour in New York City and D.C., securing appointments with Bloomberg Businessweek, Education Week, Fast Company, Forbes Magazine, The Hechinger Report, TIME Magazine, USA Today, the Alliance for Public Charter Schools, the National School Boards Association and the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Educational Technology. Outcomes include coverage in Education Week, Fast Company and Forbes, and the CEO being named to Forbes’ 30 Under 30 in Education list. Additionally, the meeting with the U.S. Dept. of Education led to Kickboard’s CEO presenting at a White House education event in October 2012. Simultaneously, CSG managed the development of a webinar series that consistently generated leads (identified topics, created the presentations, managed the webinar prep with the presenters, oversaw promotion, etc.), as well as implemented an op-ed placement effort that resulted in pieces placed in eSchool News, Edudemic and TakePart.com.
Additionally, in late February 2013, CSG designed and executed the strategy to announce that Kickboard secured $2M in Series A funding. CSG’s efforts resulted in feature pieces online in outlets including Dow Jones, the Wall Street Journal, Forbes, Times-Picayune and TechCrunch, as well as a cover story in New Orleans City Business and a profile in the Times-Picayune. In total, Kickboard earned 30 high-quality media hits on the announcement, which is very rare for only $2M in funds raised and without participation from major foundations or VC heavyweights.
eLearners.com: Project Working Mom
Challenge: eLearners.com saw first-hand an incredible need for higher education, especially among moms, after receiving an overwhelming number of applications for a scholarship in 2007. eLearners.com wanted to demonstrate how online education is an attainable, accessible and viable option for mothers seeking higher education.
Solution: In January 2008, Communications Strategy Group (CSG®) launched Project Working Mom, a full-tuition scholarship program. Project Working Mom would address the three main obstacles – time, money and confidence – which often prevent mothers from earning a degree.
Results: From 2008 to 2010, eLearners.com offered four cycles of the Project Working Mom program, generating more than 616,000 applications from both moms and dads. The program awarded more than 450 scholarships totaling approximately $11 million.
Project Working Mom produced national, local and regional public relations opportunities promoting the scholarship program as well as the recipients’ stories. Project Working Mom received multi-channel brand exposure through television, radio, online, print and mobile media. Throughout the two years, Project Working Mom garnered 500 million media impressions resulting in $3.2 million in advertising equivalency.
Study Finds Inconclusive Results about Efficacy of Adaptive LearningJune 23, 2016
Adam Newman, founder of the strategy consulting and investment banking firm Tyton Partners, said the “jury is still out” on adaptive learning. Like MOOC providers, he said, companies behind adaptive learning software also need time to experiment and adjust to find products and business models that work for them and their customers.Read More »
Intel & Insights
Preparation, Participation & Pondering: How to Maximize Conference AttendanceFebruary 29, 2016
By Liz Gossens, Senior Associate, Education Practice
Industry conferences are an incredible opportunity to become immersed in your field, learn about policy and best practices, and make valuable connections with colleagues and peers.
Conferences can also be exhausting, time consuming and generally overwhelming. Whether you’re preparing to attend your first major industry conference, or you’re a seasoned convention center veteran, taking the time to plan is a critical element for long-term success. These tips can help you make the most of your experience.
Preparation: Make a Plan
Planning your schedule in advance (while also being open to impromptu opportunities) will ensure that you’re able to maximize your time at the event. Laying out your schedule helps you get to the sessions you want to attend, as well as connect with speakers you’d like to meet. Having a plan also allows you to identify downtime, which can be used to network, check emails, or simply relax and digest all of the inspiring things you’ve just learned.
Most large-scale conferences publish their schedules online in the weeks leading up to the event, which makes it easy to create a personalized plan. Some conferences, like SXSWedu, have developed official apps that allow attendees plug in their schedules.
Additionally, if you can, check the attendee list and set some times to connect with people in your field. Some conferences have social networks that allow for searching by field and occupation, as well as direct outreach to targeted participants. Make a list of people you want to meet while you’re at the conference and start setting times to grab a cup of coffee at least two weeks in advance.
Participation: Talk. To. Everyone.
Even if the idea of “networking” gives you the jitters, it’s important to remember that everyone attending the conference has at least one thing in common: an interest in, or connection to the subject area.
These events are an incredible opportunity to make connections with folks who are involved in the industry in a variety of ways. Education conferences, for example, often involve policy makers, researchers and thought leaders, teachers and administrators, and sometimes even students. Be open to striking up a conversation with the person sitting next to you after a keynote, or someone who you might see in several different sessions. You never know who you will connect with, and these conversations can lead to a number of opportunities (not to mention friendships!).
If you exchange business cards with someone, take the time to write a little note of the conversation (on the backside if you can), to remind yourself later. You’re going to meet a lot of people and it can sometimes be difficult to keep track of everyone you’ve connected with and want to reconnect with, when you’re sorting through a stack of business cards after the event.
Ponder: Identify Action Items and Next Steps
You’ve spent a week immersed in content, energizing your passion for your field and making new contacts. It’s easy to get on the plane and promptly revert back to your regular work routine. Don’t fall into this trap! Use your time in the airport or on the plane ride to go back through your notes and identify action items.
Was there a speaker you were particularly interested in? Follow them on Twitter. Did a piece of research resonate with work you’re doing? Make a note to share it with your colleagues when you get back to the office. And don’t forget to sort through your business cards and connect with everyone on LinkedIn and other social media channels, as appropriate. Identify the folks you want to follow up with and put a reminder on your calendar to reach out in the next week.
Lastly, remember to have fun! Conferences are an opportunity to reinvigorate your passion for your field, and while you may be exhausted by the end, your attendance will be worthwhile with all of the knowledge and new connections you’ve gained.Learn More »
CSG® Education Practice Wins Four Awards from PRSA Colorado
At the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Colorado 2015 Gold Pick Awards ceremony on May 7, Communications Strategy Group's (CSG®) Education team brought home four prestigious Gold Pick awards.
The PRSA Colorado Gold Pick Awards celebrate the most original and innovative public relations programs in the state from the past year. The Education Practice had the honor of receiving awards in the media relations, social media and creative tactics categories—areas of specialty that the team performs for nonprofit and corporate clients in education every day.
- EDUCAUSE Annual Conference 2014 Media Relations
- EDUCAUSE Annual Conference 2014 Social Media
- Ecotech Institute “Ditch the Desk” Microsite
- Galvanize Entrepreneur Magazine Contributor Column
Congratulations to all of this year’s PRSA Colorado Gold Pick Award winners—including the CSG® Health & Wellness Practice, which earned three awards!Read More »