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New Online School Launch
It was March and Insight Schools stated their goal concisely: to enroll 220 students in a new diploma-granting, online public high school opening in Washington State. Meeting this goal would require a major marketing communications launch no later than early May. We’d need to drive press to a live event unveiling the model, bring the online learning experience to life and work alongside skeptics of online education. Not only that, we’d need to target the right students for enrollment.
We first had to do a lot of planning and research, since this was a totally new kind of school in Washington.
- We identified spokespeople and community supporters, found out more about the prospective Insight student, and evaluated the best way to tell the Insight story—from top-level messages to in-depth Q&A.
- We discovered that the target audience for the Insight School focused heavily on teens at risk for dropping out of high school – but not high school “dropouts” as you might imagine. These were kids in competitive sports (all the way to the Olympics), advanced learners not challenged at their traditional school, and kids with a busy work schedule or taking care of a family member. With average dropout rates approaching 30%, Insight was equipped to fulfill a huge need.
Our campaign focused on the accessibility of Insight (it’s tuition-free and they provide a laptop and Internet stipend to every student), educational knowledge of its team and the benefit to the ‘right’ student – a high school diploma that would not always be granted otherwise. We had three objectives:
- Explain, via marketing communications, the benefits of Insight Schools to students, parents, teachers, administrators, school districts and government officials across Washington State.
- Drive attendance of 400 students/families to community info sessions across the state.
- Drive 220 school enrollees by September 2006.
Team Soapbox needed to not only drive interest from more than the end goal of 220 students to account for natural attrition, but also hold that interest through the summer and into early fall. We opted for a combination of direct mail, radio and print advertising supported by extensive earned media outreach.
- The 20 info sessions held in June across the state were all filled to capacity or beyond, generating interest from more than 1,000 students.
- In the two weeks following an early May press event, and well before writing a single word of direct mail or ad copy, September's goal for student enrollments was surpassed by 250%.
- Our advertising, timed to generate attendance at statewide info sessions, quickly took enrollment interest beyond 500% of the initial goal. With more than 1,000 students expressing interest, Insight focused its operational skills on scaling the Washington program to maintain the target 1:20 teacher/student ratio. Insight landed on a final student body of 660 for its first year serving Washington students – 300% of the goal.
- Since this initial launch, we helped Insight with successful launches in four states to position them as a national leader in online education, and continued to do media relations and outreach for the schools in Washington and Idaho for several years until they became part of the K12 family of schools.
- Team Soapbox worked with the schools to develop story ideas in a sensitive way. We garnered coverage in most major newspaper and TV stations in Idaho and Washington including Seattle Times, Kitsap Sun, Yakima Herald, KOMO, KREM, Idaho Statesman, Post Register, and KUPI.