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California Teachers Summit

Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

California Teachers Summit

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 for a first-of-its-kind day of learning by teachers, for teachers--and thus, The California Teachers Summit was born. Spitfire worked with partners to recruit attendees, ensure messengers were consistent and showcase the benefits of California Standards all in service of creating a successful summit.

Spitfire knew that pulling off a successful summit requires extensive communications support before, during and after the event and at multiple levels and across channels, so we quickly got to work developing a comprehensive communications strategy that included the following elements.

  • Outreach strategy to engage key influencers early on, enabling us to access and activate the existing networks and communication channels of influencers across the state.
  • Core messaging and tailored promotional materials to tap each audience’s values and interests.
  • A communication toolkit, including materials to support on-the-ground needs at the event.
  • A robust targeted earned media strategy focused on in-depth preview stories in trusted education outlets.
  • Tailored social media strategy targeting platforms popular with teachers (Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram).

Despite a short timeframe and the challenge of reaching teachers during the summer, we exceeded our recruitment targets. 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. And, 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, 2017 and 2018 organizers brought Spitfire back to reprise our role on the second, third and fourth Summits, which expanded to more sites and engaged a growing and diverse coalition of partners. We ramped up 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 – 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 3 million individual Twitter users, and the Summit hashtag trended – again! In 2019, we partnered with Summit organizers to launch registration earlier than ever before, with a robust communication toolkit of outreach materials and teacher profiles to bring to life the year’s theme of having teachers experience what it looks like to personalize learning for themselves.

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