My company has a request.
Please give us $1 million dollars to run a promotional and awareness campaign for you.
And, secondly, please don’t complain when it doesn’t produce any tangible results. It wasn’t meant to, anyway.
But that’s exactly the position our Minister of Education, Jan Tinetti, found herself in recently when she commissioned a $1 million awareness campaign aimed at supporting school attendance … but not to increase it.
I don’t know the Minister. But I have heard people I trust in the sector say she knows her stuff.
That’s good. But what’s not so good is The Every School Day is a Big Day campaign her Ministry of Education devised and ran for her recently.
Tinetti’s campaign press statement said: “This Government has laser-sharp vision on the issue of improving attendance at school and that is why we are taking action.”
What she didn’t share is that OIA documents showed the campaign was “not expected to have a direct, quantifiable impact on attendance rates in itself”.
So why spend $1 million on an awareness campaign in the first place?
Having worked in government as a Communications and Marketing Manager, I know the political importance placed on a good public awareness campaign. I’ve developed and run them.
But I can say without a shadow of a doubt I’ve never developed a campaign with such vague and ambivalent goals and objectives, nor one without any intention to track its impacts.
Tinetti said of the campaign that it was designed to “raise public awareness about the school attendance – that every school day is important”.
But, the OIA documents said, “No data has been collected on attendance rates in relation to this campaign.”
The Ministry of Education said: “…it would be difficult to have a quantifiable measure related to the impact of the campaign only”.
That’s rubbish. No communications professional should ever devise and run a campaign, the outcomes of which can’t be actively measured and assessed.
How can you measure return on investment?
I suppose when it’s not your money, maybe tangible ROI isn’t as important as being seen to be doing something.
So, when your phone rings, it’ll be me, with my request. I’m sure I know what your answer will be.