digital campaign

"How is My Kid Doing” Campaign

Inequality in America’s education system has long been a thorny topic of discussion among educators, policymakers and—most important of all—parents and their kids. While leading digital strategy work at a national nonprofit, we pitched the idea of a national education-focused storytelling project to the Melinda and Bill Gates Foundation. Our idea was accepted and we received funding for a 2-year project that we decided to call “How is My Kid Doing”.

Specifically, we sought to unpack the divisive issue of standardized tests by talking to parents and kids around the country and having them tell their own stories of the impact that measuring performance has had on them—particularly from the lens of communities of color struggling to demonstrate the inequities that exist in their local school systems. Rather than tackle standardized tests from the traditional lens of testing, we decided to approach the topic (hence the name and the approach) from the lens of the motivation that all parents and kids—regardless of their opinions on standardized tests—share: How is my kid doing?

Using this uniting approach helped us sidestep the landmines that existed in the political retelling of that “story” of standardized tests. By focusing directly on affected communities and having them tell their stories directly, we were able to have meaningful dialogue even when proponents and opponents of testing disagreed.

Team roles:
• Carla: Director of Digital Strategy (pitched the campaign, served as the project’s POC to the Gates Foundation and managed the digital team tasked with the project)
• Hunter: Digital Strategist and Video Producer (managed the video production and digital rollout of the campaign, including a two-year paid and organic social media effort)
• Evan: Creative Director (created the brand identity and all social media collateral)
How is My Kid Doing included these components:

Facebook-first stories: A core part of the digital strategy for the project was a “Facebook-first” presence to ensure that the story unfolded natively on the most video- and family-friendly platform—Facebook. This included a steady “drip” of social media content for Facebook (primary, targeted at families and local communities) and Twitter (secondary, targeted at educators and policymakers).

A distinguishing feature of our strategy was to employ “lifestyle” content designed to more broadly appeal to the behaviors and interests of our target audience. This strategy was highly successful and viewed positively by the funder. It stood in contrast to the more traditional propensity of advocacy organizations to strictly stay “on message” and only engage with audiences on narrow topics.
Ads and message testing: We heavily used paid digital ads (primarily Facebook) for the two-year project. These ads were micro-targeted at a hyper-local level by audience location, affinity, and behavioral habits. We also deployed real-time message testing on Facebook using these paid ads, and used audience reactions to inform content and future episodes.
We produced 8 full-length episodes and dozens of shorter features from communities around the country, ranging from Buffalo, NY to Miami, FL. We spoke with a diverse group of families, educators, and policymakers to weave together their stories into a narrative that turned the conventional “anti-testing” narrative on its head. For each episode, we produced related social media “shorts” designed to tease out the story and grow a following on Facebook. We’re still friends with these families to this day!
A large part of the project was researching and cultivating a body of influencers and social ambassadors, both offline and online. To do this, we organized key in-person screenings around the country. A key part of the project’s success was truly crowd-sourcing and cultivating authentic evangelists in the communities we visited.