The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, New Teacher Center, the Association of Independent California Colleges and Universities and California State University came to Spitfire with an ambitious idea: bring together 15,000 California teachers at 33 sites across the state for a first-of-its-kind day of learning led by teachers, for teachers.
The organizing team tasked Spitfire with developing a communication strategy to overcome a big hurdle: the 2015 Summit would take place on a Friday at the end of the summer. The school year was winding down, teachers were making travel plans and there was very little time to let them know about the event.
Spitfire worked hand-in-hand with the partners to recruit teachers across the state to attend, ensure all messengers delivered a consistent message about the day, and showcase benefits of the California Standards. First, we developed a strategy to guide outreach and engage key influencers early on, which enabled us to access and activate the existing networks and communication channels of influencers across the state. Then, we developed core messaging and tailored promotional materials to each audience according to their values and interest in the Summit. After creating an initial communication toolkit, we continually added materials up until the day of the Summit to support on-the-ground needs.
Despite a short timeframe and the challenge of reaching teachers during the summer, we exceeded the recruitment target and had to wait-list several hundred teachers at different sites.
Spitfire developed a targeted earned media strategy focused on generating in-depth preview stories in trusted education outlets like EdSource 1, and tailored a social media strategy targeting platforms popular with teachers, such as Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram.
Despite a short timeframe and the challenge of reaching teachers during the summer, we exceeded the recruitment target and had to wait-list several hundred teachers at different sites. The Summit, which featured an inspiring lineup of keynote and Ed Talk speakers, generated media attention across the state and trended (twice) on Twitter with the event hashtag, #CATeachersSummit. EdSource hailed the event as “an initiative that will allow teachers in the state to share with their peers the best practices they’ve picked up on while teaching the new standards in their classroom.”
In 2016 and 2017, organizers brought Spitfire back to support the second and third annual Summits, which expanded to more sites and engaged a growing and diverse coalition of partners. We ramped up our earned media efforts and secured coverage in local outlets across the state. Building on our social media strategy, we connected teachers from Redding to San Diego, California – and from as far away as Massachusetts – before, after and on the day of the Summit. The conversation throughout the day spread to more than three million individual Twitter users, and the Summit hashtag trended – again! Beyond the Summit, we are keeping the momentum going through a series of in-person and online events throughout the school year. And we’re already thinking about how to make the fourth annual Summit even better.