Division A - Public Relations Programs
Category 2 - Public Service
“I Teach” Campaign
Department of Community Relations, Polk County Public Schools

Judges' Award

Research/Situation Analysis: In the state of Florida, teacher recruitment and retention is a key problem, compounded in Polk County by an unprecedented growth that outpaces the majority of the state. Motivational models and analyses show that an employee who feels valued and appreciated is more likely to stay in his/her job and perform at higher levels. With this in mind, the Polk County School Board Department of Community Relations leveraged the impact of National Teacher Appreciation Week to collaborate with multiple community partners to circulate messages of thanks and appreciation for our educators.

Objectives: The objective of this campaign was to increase understanding and appreciation of the teaching profession within the greater Polk community. The joint objective was to find a creative way to transmit this understanding and appreciation to our 7,000-plus teachers. Short term measurable results would be improved attitudes and feelings of being valued by our teachers with long-term results including higher performance and employee retention.

Implementation: Having both an in-house print shop and television production studio, it was decided to produce a series of Public Service Announcements (PSAs) alongside a poster campaign that would allow for both high creativity and high value. To get started a project proposal was written followed by a focus group with community members involved in the public relations and marketing fields. Collectively, they chose teachers who would participate in our PSAs from a pool of Polk Teacher of the Year finalists from the past five years. Additionally, they gave input on ideas for the scripts and made general suggestions for processes and procedures. The scripts were written, the selected teachers were invited to participate and a second focus group was held with an acting coach who is also a PCSB teacher where the teachers edited the scripts for message and authenticity.
Actors were recruited from the local acting community, with assistance from executive directors at our local community theaters. A costume shop was contacted and costumes were donated. A musical score was developed and recorded by a local musician free of charge. PCSB staff directed, filmed and post-produced the series. Air time grants were secured with Bright House, Comcast, and PGTV to show the PSAs. The commercials were made available to all of the schools to show on their internal networks.
Our Office of Community Involvement contacted the CEO of Cobb Theatres to see if they would offer an incentive to our teachers for Teacher Appreciation Week. Cobb Theatres not only offered children’s rates (a $3.50 discount) to all PCSB employees for that week, but also agreed to play one of our PSAs in the pre-movie advertisements at both of their Polk County locations. Letters were sent out to all area Chambers of Commerce and economic development groups in Polk County asking that businesses use their marquee signs to celebrate our teachers during this week.
Letters were sent to the principals of all schools notifying them of the campaign, asking them to use their marquees to celebrate teachers, and with instructions on the posters, the videos, and the special movie rate for teachers.

Evaluation: An electronic survey was developed and distributed to school board employees and community members, representing both teachers and non-teachers. The results showed the following:
88 percent of teachers who responded to the survey were aware of one or more programs associated with the “I teach” campaign.
71 percent of teachers who responded to the survey and were aware of one or more of these programs felt marked improvements in either levels of support from the Polk County community, levels of support from their district administration, or motivation to succeed at their jobs.
90 percent of all respondents to the survey were aware of one or more programs associated with the campaign.
83 percent of all respondents who were aware of one or more of these programs felt marked improvements in either their support for teachers in the Polk County community or levels of support for teachers from their district administration.

Budget: The actual out-of-pocket costs for this campaign were $250 paid in set-up fees to Cobb Theatres for converting our commercial to go on the big screen and $75 for the in-house printing of the posters. Studio space, costumes, music, and air time were all donated by community partners. Bright House aired the PSAs 2,016 times for a value of $100,800. Comcast aired the PSAs 300 times for a value of $15,000. Cobb’s teacher discount represents an estimated $4,000 donation. Airtime during the pre-movie advertisements represents an additional estimated donation of $10,000 for a total of $129,800 in in-kind donations. Approximately 215 “on the clock” man hours were spent recruiting, developing, writing, filming, editing, designing and distributing the pieces of this campaign. An additional 98 hours were volunteered by our focus groups, actors, teachers, and other community partners to make this campaign successful.