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GEOG. ED.

IN IDAHO: COMMUNICATION CAMPAIGN PLAN

Promoting Geographic Education and Knowledge in Idaho:


Communication Campaign Plan

Michael L. Foushee
University of Idaho
27 March, 2016

GEOG. ED. IN IDAHO: COMMUNICATION CAMPAIGN PLAN

Rationale

Geographic proficiency has been lacking in the United States in recent decades, both for adults
and for children in school. The geographic proficiency scores of Americas children continue to
drop in national assessments (National Center for Education Statistics, 2011). Furthermore,
studies have highlighted the same lack of geographic proficiency in young American adults
(National Geographic and Roper, 2002; National Geographic and Roper, 2006). These
worrisome statistics point to an urgent need to rethink geographic education in the United
States. A lack of awareness for geographic education and poor funding have both contributed
to the problem. Geography routinely receives far less attention in classrooms in comparison to
other subjects such as reading and math (U.S. Government Accountability Office, 2015).
Common misperceptions about geography, combined with outdated teaching materials and
lessons, have rendered geography a stale, under-represented subject in Americas schools
(Schell, Mohan, and The Instructional Materials and Professional Development Committee,
2013). This dilemma is particularly acute in Idaho, where past efforts to stimulate geographic
education have fallen short (Idaho Geo-Literacy Education and Outreach, n.d.).

The future is bright, however. Innovative new technologies and educational tools are available
to make geography an exciting, pertinent subject for Americas children to learn. Tools such as
Google Earth and geographic information systems (GIS) are incredibly relevant in the modern
world, and can easily be utilized in classrooms. Educational programs that combine geography
with other subjects, such as math, have shown high success rates and are waiting to be taught
by enterprising educators (Hinde and Ekiss, 2005). There has never been a better time for
people to learn about geography. Climate change and other global concerns affect all people in
the United States. In order to face these concerns, U.S. citizens must first understand how the
world works, which, in essence, is geography. Now is the time to act to promote geographic
education, starting in the state of Idaho.

GEOG. ED. IN IDAHO: COMMUNICATION CAMPAIGN PLAN

It will be a long process to increase awareness of this issue among Idahos residents. Adults in
Idaho parents, taxpayers, and voters hold the most potential to facilitate change by
educating themselves about this issue and by encouraging legislators to create and fund
geographic education programs. The process of change begins with a communication
campaign, not only to increase awareness about the need for geographic education, but also to
foster dialogue and feedback with those most able to influence change. Teachers and education
administrators are a key stakeholder group in this process, and are among those best suited to
provide feedback on geographic education and implementation of geographic educational
programs. In addition, establishing relationships with members of the state legislature and with
the offices of Idahos U.S. Congress members will be incredibly valuable and rewarding in the
long run. Effective action will require voters, educators, and legislators to work together to
increase funding for geographic education initiatives and to implement geographic education
programs in Idahos schools.

Goals:
The long-term goal of the communication campaign is to inspire Idahos population to take
action on this issue. However, this goal will likely require many years to accomplish. The goal
will require legislative action at the state level as well as action at the municipal level where
grassroots efforts could facilitate increased geographic education in local schools. Key
components for success of the long-term goal are social media pages and a website message
board to be created during the communication campaign. These integrative social forums will
allow Idahoans to stay up-to-date on the latest developments for geographic education in the
state, and to form a permanent community dedicated to addressing the issue. This type of twoway communication, as opposed to somewhat impersonal one-way communication via news
media outlets, will help keep the issue relevant for a number of people in Idaho.

A short-term goal for the communication campaign is easier to measure and quantify. The goal
is to increase awareness of the lack of geographic education and proficiency in the United State
and particularly in Idaho. This goal will be accomplished using several communication

GEOG. ED. IN IDAHO: COMMUNICATION CAMPAIGN PLAN

strategies. The primary media the communication campaign will utilize are public service
announcements (PSAs) distributed to TV and radio stations in Idaho along with an informational
pamphlet to be distributed among educators and the public. Both of these communication
methods will provide a succinct overview of why the issue is important and why people in Idaho
should address it now. The PSA and pamphlet will direct persons to the website, where more
detailed information and resources are located. Both the PSA and informational pamphlet will
also point to social media pages and a website message board, where visitors can connect and
ask questions about the topic. These modes of communication outreach can be graded for
effectiveness by looking at data such as number of unique visitors to the website, total number
of pamphlets distributed, and percent of Idahoans reached by the PSA.

Another goal of the communication campaign is to establish contact with educators, legislators,
and news media outlets in the state. A month-long tour of the state will facilitate face-to-face
meetings with educators in 25 of Idahos largest cities. Additionally, informational pamphlets
will be distributed among educators and the public in these cities. Meetings will also take place
with state legislators in Boise and with news media outlets in cities on the tour. The success of
this effort will be graded after one year by counting the number of news articles and TV news
stories in Idaho focused on geographic education.

Audience:
The primary audience to be addressed in the communication campaign is voting, adult
taxpayers ages 25-55. Specifically, the campaign will attempt to reach parents who have
children under age 18. These adults are an important audience to reach since they are most
likely to take a serious interest in this issue, which involves their childrens education and
future. Adults ages 25-55 are the most likely to have children under age 18 living in their
household (Vespa, Lewis, and Kreider, 2013). Targeting this age group is an important first step
toward increasing awareness for geographic education. Adults with children are likely to be
concerned about geographic education and more likely to spread awareness on the issue.

GEOG. ED. IN IDAHO: COMMUNICATION CAMPAIGN PLAN

Additionally, adults ages 25-55 likely pay taxes and are able to vote, which enables them to
influence education legislation.

In the state of Idaho, a majority of the population is affiliated with the Republican party. In fact,
Idaho is the second most strongly Republican state in the United States, according to a recent
Gallop poll (Jones, 2016). It is likely, therefore, that a majority of the target audience will belong
to the Republican party, which may negatively affect their attitudes toward increases in
government spending in education. Idaho ranks 50th on a national ranking of wages paid to
workers, worse than every state except for Mississippi (U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 2015).
For per capita personal income, Idaho ranked 47th in the nation, and for total personal income,
Idaho ranked 41st (U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, 2015). Personal income could affect the
target audiences response to the communication campaign by fueling concerns about the
possibility of increased taxes or personal spending that may be required to fund geographic
education programs for their children.

Messages:
Several key messages may be effective in reaching the target audience. These messages will
focus on how a lack of sufficient geographic education is affecting Americas children. The
messages will also address how this issue will continue to affect children as they grow up and
face global competition in college and on the job market. Both the National Science Foundation
(NSF) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) include geography and related studies
as STEM disciplines (Domosh, 2014). Despite this, geography still receives significantly less
funding and attention in grades K-12 than subjects such as math and science (U.S. Government
Accountability Office, 2015). The lack of focus on geography in Americas schools has translated
into low geographic proficiency scores on national assessments (National Center for Education
Statistics, 2011). Young American adults have also demonstrated lower geography test scores
than their European peers (National Geographic and Roper, 2002).

These statistics can be translated into several key messages:

GEOG. ED. IN IDAHO: COMMUNICATION CAMPAIGN PLAN

Geography receives less funding than other subjects in K-12 schools and is taught using
ineffective and outdated methods.

Geography proficiency scores have dropped or shown no improvements on recent


national educational assessments.

Young American adults also exhibit a lack of geographic knowledge, and are at a
disadvantage when faced with global competition.

Several potential arguments could be made against these messages. One argument might ask,
Why change the way we teach geography? or, Of what use is geography anyway? National
studies and educational assessments clearly show that the current way geography is taught in
K-12 classrooms is insufficient (National Center for Education Statistics, 2011; Schell et al, 2013;
U.S. Government Accountability Office, 2015). All of the messages in the communication
campaign will present the results of these studies to the target audience, highlighting a need to
increase geographic education in the United States. The website and informational pamphlet
will address the usefulness of geography by including graphics displaying the interdisciplinary
nature of geography and way it is interwoven into everyday life. Interviews with teachers and
professionals who integrate geographic knowledge into their everyday work will highlight the
usefulness of geography to the target audience.

Another potential argument against the communication campaigns messages might be over
concerns about increased government spending on geographic education, or about increased
taxes and personal expenditures to fund geographic educational programs. Objections to
increased government spending or taxes are likely to be high in Idaho, where the majority of
the population belongs to the Republican party (Jones, 2016). The communication campaign
will address these objections by proposing to use existing educational budgets as a starting
point to reform geographic education. Since geography is a core K-12 subject and is considered
a STEM discipline by several government agencies, it should receive just as much funding and
attention as math and science. As a starting point, geography can be integrated with other K-12
subjects, thereby allowing it to be efficiently funded alongside those subjects. Private grants

GEOG. ED. IN IDAHO: COMMUNICATION CAMPAIGN PLAN

and funding from foundations such as the National Geographic Society will provide additional
resources to purchase educational tools and to create geographic educational programs in
Idaho.

A few communication campaign statements might include:

The world is a big place. Geography explores the where, how, and why of the world.
We are all geographers.

Together, lets draw a map to a brighter future for geographic education.

Lets show the world that Idaho is world-class. Support geographic education in our
schools.

The communication campaign will utilize several types of visual images to communicate
messages to the target audience. One visual image will be a graphic examining the
interdisciplinary nature of geography. This graphic will explore the different aspects of
geographic knowledge that people use in everyday life, and the decisions that this knowledge
may influence. The graphic will show political, environmental, economic, and social decisions all
drawing on a persons knowledge of geography. Additionally, images of teachers and school
children could receive positive reception from the target audience. A Gallop poll in 2014 found
that a majority of Americans see teachers in a favorable light (PDK International and Gallop,
2014). The target audience is expected to include many parents of school-aged children. Images
of children learning geography and exploring the world around them may help increase the
audiences receptivity to the communication campaigns message.

The best spokesperson for the communication campaign is a teacher, who will be credible in
the eyes of the target audience due to the publics respect for teachers. Parents in the target
audience will identify with this spokesperson because they most likely have interacted with
teachers during their childrens educational experience. The spokesperson will have a strong
knowledge of geography and at least 10 years of teaching experience in the state of Idaho.
Many years of teaching experience will lend credibility to the spokesperson. This individual will

GEOG. ED. IN IDAHO: COMMUNICATION CAMPAIGN PLAN

connect with the audience and share a wealth of practical examples and anecdotes related to
geographic education. The spokesperson will be an Idaho native, which will help alleviate any
fears the audience may have that someone from outside of Idaho is trying to push their agenda
on Idahoans.

Media

The communication campaign will pursue a combination of advertising and public relations
methods. A PSA for television and a PSA for radio will be created and sent to major TV and radio
stations in Idaho, respectively. Production of the PSAs will utilize the expertise of an advertising
consultant to ensure that the PSAs effectively convey the communication campaigns messages
to the target audience. Using an advertising consultant will not cost extra money, as persons
with advertising agency experience are often willing to work on PSAs on a volunteer basis
(Dawson, 2004).

A television and radio PSA were both chosen because studies have pointed to an increase in
brand recall by audiences when TV and radio advertisements are used in conjunction with each
other (Peacock, 2004). A recent report by Nielsen in 2015 found that over 90% of adults in
America listen to the radio each week. The report also finds that 76% of adults ages 18-34 and
90% of adults ages 35-49 watch TV each week (Nielsen, 2015). These findings confirm that a TV
and radio PSA will likely reach a large portion of the target audience. Social media pages and a
website are also likely to be effective in reaching the target audience. A recent study by the
Pew Research Center shows that social media usage among adults continues to grow. In the
target audience, social media usage is likely to exceed 75% (Perrin, 2015). Weekly usage of
smartphones and PCs is also high in the target audience, with smartphones being used nearly
every day of the week. (Nielsen, 2015).

The radio PSA will be sent to 179 radio stations across Idaho. The television PSA will be sent to
these 16 TV news stations across Idaho: KBOI Boise CBS affiliate, KAID Boise PBS station,

GEOG. ED. IN IDAHO: COMMUNICATION CAMPAIGN PLAN

KTVB Boise NBC affiliate, KNIN Caldwell Fox affiliate, KCDT Coeur dAlene PBS station, KXLY
Coeur dAlene ABC affiliate, KHQ Coeur dAlene NBC affiliate, KIDK Idaho Falls CBS affiliate,
KIFI Idaho Falls ABC affiliate, KLEW Lewiston CBS affiliate, KUID Moscow PBS station, KIVI
Nampa ABC affiliate, KPVI Pocatello NBC affiliate, KISU Pocatello PBS station, KMVT Twin
Falls CBS affiliate, KIPT Twin Falls PBS station.

A news media kit including detailed information and a press release will be sent to the 16 TV
news stations listed above, as well as 14 newspapers in Idaho. The media kits will not contain
material to be advertised in a specific newspaper section. Rather, the media kits will contain
supporting evidence to be utilized by the newspapers and TV stations to report as stories
promoting geographic education in Idaho. An August 2010 Gallup poll showed that only about a
quarter of Americans trust newspapers and television news (Morales, 2010). Despite this, many
people still perceive newspapers and TV news sources as being more credible than social media
or issue-related websites (Flanagin and Metzger 2007). Stories broadcast on TV news and
published in newspapers will lend credibility to the communication campaigns message, while
the website and social media pages will provide in-depth information for skeptical audience
members.

The media kits will be sent to the 16 aforementioned TV news stations and to these
newspapers: The Blackfoot Morning News, The Bonner County Daily Bee, The Coeur d'Alene
Press, The Idaho Press-Tribune, The Idaho State Journal, The Idaho Statesman, The Boise
Weekly, Lewiston Morning Tribune, The Moscow-Pullman Daily News, The Post Register, The
Shoshone News Press, The South Idaho Press, The Standard Journal, and The Times-News. These
newspapers were chosen because they represent the largest cities in Idaho, and, consequently,
will be read by the greatest number of people.

An additional type of media the communication campaign will use is an informational


pamphlet. This print media will be distributed to educators and the public on a 30-day tour of
the 25 largest cities in Idaho. Informational pamphlets will help the communication campaign

GEOG. ED. IN IDAHO: COMMUNICATION CAMPAIGN PLAN

10

reach those in the target audience who may not be exposed to the TV or radio PSAs. These
pamphlets will convey the communication campaigns messages as well as provide links to the
website and social media pages. By distributing informational pamphlets to educators, the
communication campaign can focus this material in circles where messages are likely to be
further circulated. The educators will be instructed to distribute the pamphlets to other
educators and to parents of school-aged children.

Conclusion

This communication campaign will be effective because it will utilize a variety of media to reach
the target audience. A combination of TV and radio PSAs will increase dissemination of the
communication campaigns messages to target audience members. These PSAs will direct the
audience to a website and social media pages that will provide in-depth information and
opportunities to connect with a community. News media kits distributed to TV news outlets
and newspapers in Idaho will begin a public relations campaign to involve the news media in
discussing geographic education. A month-long tour of Idaho will include meetings with
legislators in Boise and with news media outlets in 25 of Idahos major cities. Additionally,
meetings with educators in these cities will begin a process of dialogue on the issue of
geographic education in Idaho. Informational pamphlets containing the communication
campaigns website and social media information will be distributed to educators and the
public on the tour.

GEOG. ED. IN IDAHO: COMMUNICATION CAMPAIGN PLAN

11

Appendix

Budget and Production


TV Public Service Announcement
Cost:
Filming/Production

$2,500

Total Cost:
$2,500

Advertising Consultant

Volunteer

N/A

Script Writer

$50/hr. for 10 hours

$500

Spokesperson

$50/hr. for 6 hours

$300

4 Extra Actors

$25/hr. per actor for 2 hours

$200

Airtime

Free

N/A

Cost to Mail PSA to TV Station

$15 per station for 16


stations

$240

Radio Public Service Announcement


Cost:

Total Cost:

Recording/Production

$500

$500

Advertising Consultant

Volunteer

N/A

Script Writer

$50/hr. for 5 hours

$250

Spokesperson

$50/hr. for 4 hours

$200

Airtime

Free

N/A

Free

N/A

Cost to E-mail PSA to Radio Station

Website/Message Board
Cost:

Total Cost:

Web Designer

$2,000

$2,000

Domain Registration

$20

$20

Annual Renewal/Host

$100/yr. for 8 years

$800

Website Maintenance

$250/yr. for 8 years

$2,000

Outreach to News Media


Cost:

Total Cost:

Production of Media Kit

$500

$500

Cost to Mail Media Kit to TV


Stations/Newspapers

$15 per kit for 16 TV stations


and 14 newspapers

$450

Informational Pamphlets
Cost:

Total Cost:

Design

$500

$500

Printing

$0.10 per pamphlet for


12,500 pamphlets

$1,250

GEOG. ED. IN IDAHO: COMMUNICATION CAMPAIGN PLAN

12

Social Media Pages


Creation/Design

Cost:

Total Cost:

Free

N/A

Travel/Meeting Expenses
Cost:

Total Cost:

Food/Lodging

$150/day for 30 days

$4,500

Gasoline

$2/gal for 2000 miles at 20


mpg

$200
Budget Grand
Total:
$16,910

Timeline
Public Service Announcement Television Ad
Hiring/Production
Time Required:

2 months

Time Required:

1 months

Distribution

Total:

1 month

4 months

Distribution

Total:

1 month

3 months

Hiring/Design

Review/Approval

Total:

2 months

1 month

3 months

Production of Media Kit

Distribution

Total:

1 months

1 month

2 months

Design/Printing

Travel/Distribution

Total:

1 month

1 month

2 months

Creation/Design

Connection with allies


and related pages

Total:

1 month

1 month

2 months

1 month
Public Service Announcement Radio Ad

Hiring/Production
Time Required:

Post-production/Review

Post-production/Review
1 month
Website/Message Board

Outreach to News Media

Time Required:

Informational Pamphlets
Time Required:

Social Media Pages

Time Required:

GEOG. ED. IN IDAHO: COMMUNICATION CAMPAIGN PLAN

13

Assessment

Grading Method:

Grade 2:
High
success goal
achieved

Grade 1:
Moderate
success reinitiate
goal

Grade 0:
Low
success re-evaluate
comm.
strategy

Outreach via
social media
pages

Percent increase in Twitter


retweets, Facebook likes,
and YouTube views per
month

>25%

10-25%

<10%

Outreach via
website

Number of unique visitors


to website within one year

>10,000

5,00010,000

<5,000

Outreach via
website message
board

Number of new registered


users per month

>50

10-50

<10

Outreach via
media outlets

Number of articles
published or stories
broadcast within one year

>5

2-5

0-1

Outreach via
public service
announcement

Percent of people in Idaho


reached by PSA within one
year. Data gathered via
phone and online surveys

>50%

25-50%

<25%

Outreach via
information
pamphlets

Percent of pamphlets
distributed in each of the
25 Idaho cities visited

>90%

50-90%

<50%

>75%

50-75%

<50%

>75%

66-75%

<66%

>75%

50-75%

<50%

Goal:

Effectiveness of
website

Effectiveness of
public service
announcement

Effectiveness of
public service
announcement

Percent of visitors rating


the website as very
relevant or very
informative via survey on
website
Percent of people in Idaho
rating the PSA as very
relevant or very
informative. Data
gathered via phone and
online surveys
Percent of people who
visit website or social
media pages following
PSA. Data gathered via
phone and online surveys

Total
Grade:
Select
grade as 0,
1, or 2

GEOG. ED. IN IDAHO: COMMUNICATION CAMPAIGN PLAN

14

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