Texas’ last county department of education undertakes campaign for survival
Targeted for closure by legislators, campaign led to appreciation for department’s contributions.
The Harris County Department of Education (HCDE) is the last remaining county department of its kind in Texas. Despite origins in 1889, the department is woefully misunderstood by the community, which frequently mistakes it for the Houston Independent School District. Local legislators, meanwhile, have targeted the department for closure every two years.
Hobbled by negative publicity about harm to a student that was ultimately proven to be unfounded, HCDE communicators sought to raise understanding of the department’s work and its impact on the school district, children, educators and the public at large. The 10-month campaign has earned first place in the “Education Campaign” category of the PR Daily Awards.
Elements of the campaign included superintendent meetings with local school districts and legislative delegations, where branded collateral was distributed. A 90-second video was posted on the HCDE website and 30-second ads placed on YouTube, each targeting specific demographics. A 15-second version of the video was placed with local movie theaters, played before several summer blockbusters were screened.
Rotating carousel social media ads appeared on Facebook while the department’s primary Facebook and Twitter accounts hosted organic posts featuring key campaign messages. Full-page print ads appeared in Texas education publications and community newspapers. Advertising included slogans and hashtags, driving audiences to a special landing page.
The metrics from the campaign were impressive, but it is to the team’s credit that it recognized more was needed to build on the campaign’s success, leading to the decision to develop a second phase focusing on the HCDE divisions that work directly with students.
Congratulations to Dave Einsel, Juan Lopez, Carol Vaughn, Angela Hider and Stephanie De Los Santos.
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