In December of 2014, the John F. Kennedy Library & Foundation came to Precision with a question: At a point in our history when most of the country does not have a living memory of President Kennedy, how can the Foundation teach a new generation about President Kennedy’s legacy and the values that make it great?
We set about translating one of the Foundation’s key programs: the Profile in Courage Award, given each year to a public servant who does what is right, not what is popular, often at great cost to themselves. Past award recipients have included John McCain and Russ Feingold, for pursuing campaign finance reform; Leymah Gbowee, who started a movement of women that ultimately helped end Liberia’s civil war; Bob Inglis, who defied his party to declare that climate change is caused by human activity; and Connecticut Gov. Dan Malloy, who invited a Syrian refugee family to his state after another governor turned them away.
The Foundation had accepted ideas for possible award recipients from their community to the tune of 125 submissions a year. Our goal: To create a larger narrative and engagement arc for the program through social media and email campaigns that helped tell the story of past winners and explore the principle of political courage in the places where younger generations spend most of their time online.
First order of business: Make it easier for people to submit nominations. We helped the Foundation launch an interactive and visually engaging custom landing page for the Award, and cut the number of forms needed for submission to increase conversions.
We worked with the Foundation to create an engaging email program to walk the Foundation’s email audience through the values behind the award and encourage them to submit nominations through emails from John F. Kennedy’s daughter, Caroline Kennedy, his grandson, Jack Schlossberg, Profile in Courage Award Board members, as well as previous winners to provide different points of view on the honor. Email subscribers reacted well to our guest senders and our email open rates performed at least seven percentage points above the industry standard.
To expand the reach of the award, we created a steady drumbeat of social media graphics across the Foundation’s presences on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Tumblr to define political courage for a new generation and tell the stories of past winners, and worked with HBO on a series of short, social media-friendly videos featuring former winners, and young people talking about the importance of political courage to reach a new and younger audience.
For the 2016 award cycle, we ran a paid media campaign based on the previous year’s best-performing audiences and newly-identified target audiences that reached 727,000 people on Facebook and a paid video campaign that reached 841,000 people on Facebook.
We’ve also been proud to help the Foundation amplify the announcement of award recipients and make the award ceremonies an event online. In addition to the YouTube live stream which generated 2,743 views, we streamed the 2016 award ceremony on Facebook live, adding an additional 3,242 views. We also activated a Snapchat geofilter at the Library on the day of the ceremony to promote the event.
Finally, we took steps to put the Profile in Courage Award on the map with key audiences of political and media elites by launching an expanded influencer outreach program designed to increase award nominations process and celebrate award winners.
The Bottom Line:
By creating compelling content and using the Library’s existing follower base, we drove up engagement, and in turn, the number of submissions for the award. Our influencer and surrogate outreach program introduced new voices and reached new audiences to expand awareness of the award and through the combination of these efforts, we helped the Library increase Award submissions from the community to 909 in 2015, 4,400 in 2016, and 28,045 in 2017.