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How a 70-year-old national education nonprofit positioned itself for a bright future with media relations.

The Challenge

Since 1947, the Great Books Foundation and its Shared Inquiry method for discussing literature have been a mainstay in discussion groups and schools nationwide. However, as shifts in the political and technology climate began to transform the education landscape in the early 2000s, the organization’s long-term sustainability was called into question. While many educators knew and appreciated the Great Books Foundation for its approach to teaching students to discuss classic literature, some began to question the pertinence of its content to modern readers.

As 2016 approached, the Great Books Foundation knew it was time to make a change. The organization entered into the year with a refreshed brand identity and a renewed commitment to meeting the needs of today’s digital, connected learners.

There was just one important question left to answer: how would the Great Books Foundation bring its evolution to life and convince its stakeholders that its mission and approach are just as relevant today as ever?

The Answer: Media Relations

The Great Books Foundation recognized that a constant cadence of high-quality media coverage could be an effective tool for shifting brand perceptions and reinforcing their organization’s continued relevancy in the ever-changing education landscape. They asked Prosper Strategies to create a public relations strategy just as ambitious as their new approach.

A selection of the media outlets we work with frequently for clients like the Great Books Foundation.

Discover

Prosper Strategies began our work with the Great Books Foundation as we begin every engagement: with a Discover phase of intensive research and exploration. We conducted stakeholder interviews, materials and media audits and secondary research to determine the unique point of difference for the new Great Books brand and established a set of key messages for bringing it to life.

Design

We then designed a public relations strategy focused on highlighting the continued importance of the Great Books Foundation’s Shared Inquiry methodology through the stories of the teachers, students and readers who are directly impacted by their work today. Beyond simply defining story angles, our strategy established persona profiles for the stakeholders we would aim to reach via media coverage, narrative arcs that would ensure the new Great Books message was developed logically over time, and more.

At the core of our strategy was one important goal: to establish the Great Books Foundation’s unique position as the only organization that teaches both students and adults to engage in respectful, insightful discussions around important topics (what they call civil discourse) and to highlight the importance of those discussions in today’s increasingly polarized world.

Drive

With our strategy in place, it was time to get to work developing timely pitches and conducting regular media outreach on the Great Books Foundation’s behalf. Our strategic plan made the assumption that we’d find the most success when we could link the importance of  civil discourse and Shared Inquiry discussions to current events, such as the vicious 2016 presidential debates or the controversy in early 2017 around immigration and travel bans. In the Drive phase of our engagement, we found out we were right.

Pitches and contributed articles on topics like these resulted in quality stories on the Great Books Foundation from top-tier outlets like CBS and the Huffington Post, as well as education industry coverage in publications like The Hechinger Report and District Administrator. See select coverage we’ve secured for the Great Books Foundation below.

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A selection of the media coverage we have secured for the Great Books Foundation.

Deliver

At Prosper Strategies, we believe media relations can and should have a measurable impact on our clients’ strategic business goals. The Deliver phase of our client engagements is all about measuring those results and using what we learn to make continual improvements to our campaigns. We measure media success based on metrics like potential impressions, social engagement, key message amplification, SEO impact and web traffic generation and eschew outdated metrics like ad equivalency value.

Our engagement with the Great Books Foundation has resulted in positive shifts in brand awareness, brand perception and even search rankings.

A few examples of outcomes to date include:

61 Million

Potential Media Impressions

  • Visits

81% increase in non-branded web traffic from search

30%

Increase in web referral traffic

Could Your Organization Benefit from Similar Results?

Contact us to tell us about your needs and learn how a partnership with Prosper Strategies can help your organization achieve its goals.