Could you share any evidence that would demonstrate the productivity, quality of work, or the impact of the engagement?
We have begun to work with a survey of what our current awareness in the marketplace is, and will replicate it in the near future in order to have an apples-to-apples comparison. In general, we've seen dramatic improvements in our website visits and candidate flow, as well as a steady increase in funder support.
As part of our model, we recognize master teachers in the Chicago land area. Each year, once we've gone through the work of nominating and selecting award recipients, we notify them by surprising them at their school, and create a lot of excitement not only by having special guests appear and hand out the awards, but also by having TV and other media outlets available for them to tell their stories.
We measure our media outreach specifics, whether it be TV or newspaper spots, or social media attention. This year, we have tripled our social media specifics compared to 2016. We've just concluded our event, so those numbers will continue to go up for a while. Each year, we're building on the prior one and adding things which will make the event even more impressive.
How did Harbinger Group perform from a project management standpoint?
We are a small organization with only 20–25 employees, so we use a large number of contractors, over one hundred, which work with us on a part-time basis. Having more full-time staff is important whenever we are trying to do anything with a degree of sophistication in the marketing space. We can't possibly hire the number of specialists which would be needed. Harbinger Group is able to supply us with branding help, tactical media outreach and management, or even simply day-to-day communication. We have over 2,500 alumni in our network who have participated in our programming, and we want to communicate regularly and engage them to help us with initiatives. We're seeing a real professionalization of our communication efforts, especially throughout the last couple of years as we've become more strategic about our planning. We've integrated Harbinger Group's team more into our weekly meetings.
What did you find most impressive about Harbinger Group?
I appreciate Harbinger Group's availability and flexibility. They're a planned and thoughtful group, but they're not rigid. Harbinger Group will take a call from me on Sunday night asking for something for Monday morning. If I need something drafted, written, reviewed, or posted, Harbinger Group is flexible and available to do it. At the same time, they're not a temp agency, so they can bring a point of view to the work and advise as much as they execute.
When I joined the organization, it was run by great educators, but they didn't have operational backgrounds. We often needed to print posters and send them to schools in order to get the word out about our awards cycle. Since then, we've put our outreach completely on the digital side. By that decision alone, we have increased our effectiveness and outreach efforts, while decreasing the nonproductive marketing communication costs.
Are there any areas Harbinger Group could improve?
Harbinger Group is a small organization, so they may lack internal resources at times for getting some of our tasks done. They can't possibly have specialists for every single area of marketing and communications. This will mean that, in order to get the work done, Harbinger Group will have to subcontract it. This will equate to a higher cost for us at times.