PRWeek Awards - Best Use of Research/Measurement

Winner

Dittus Communications and the Customer Education Advisory Board: DC is Electric

When the District of Columbia City Council passed the Retail Electric Competition...

Winner

Dittus Communications and the Customer Education Advisory Board: DC is Electric

When the District of Columbia City Council passed the Retail Electric Competition and Consumer Protection Act in 1999, it set the stage for DC to transition to a competitive electricity marketplace. The subsequent formation of the Customer Education Advisory Board – a partnership of government, local utility, and consumer advocacy groups – was tasked with implementing a two-year public education campaign to inform DC residents about changes in the electricity market and their electricity supply choices. But first the communications team, which included Dittus Communications, had to assess baseline awareness of the deregulated market and identify messages that would resonate with the audience.

Audience analysis showed a number of interesting statistics: 37% of DC residents were illiterate; roughly 20% live below the poverty line; and many of its residents speak a language other than English. The team also conducted meetings throughout the course of the campaign with such influencers as city officials, nonprofit organizations, and faith-based groups to gain insight into the best way to reach the population.

The research conducted gave the team some valuable tips on how to reach the audience. It learned that the messages had to be simple, direct, and feature one single fact at a time; that the campaign should include multiple communication vehicles; and that outreach should be customized to penetrate hard-to-reach audiences. For example, knowing that a certain portion of the target audience was illiterate, the team utilized radio and speeches at community and faith-based organizations.

The team also conducted ongoing research to track residents’ awareness of electricity choices and knowledge of the issues involved. Because that research showed that women were more interested in the topic than men, female models were used in the campaign’s advertising.

Ultimately, the campaign helped close the gap between the most knowledgeable and least knowledgeable population by 10 percentage points over the course of the campaign and increasing resident confidence about making electricity choices; 43% of the population felt more capable than when the effort began.

Judges were impressed by the campaign’s “straightforward” qualities, calling it an “ideal case study for research.”

Honorable Mention

CRT/Tanaka and Longwood University: Discover the Power in You

Despite many advancements since it was a women’s teaching college, Longwood University had an image problem. Prospective students and parents still perceived the school as either one for teachers or a safety school. The university turned to CRT/Tanaka to redefine and reposition its brand. The firm set out to conduct qualitative and quantitative research to develop a new brand theme, which would then drive the development of a campaign to increase awareness of and interest in the university. Working with outside vendors, the team conducted 22 focus groups across Virginia, telephone and online surveys, and one-on-one interviews with faculty, staff, state legislators, and business and community influencers. The extensive research led to the development of Longwood’s marketing campaign, which ultimately resulted in a 200% increase to the Web site and a 237% increase in the number of students who toured Longwood during a one-week period compared to the previous year. Judges remarked that the “solid” research contributed to the brand development.

Finalists 2007



  • CRT/Tanaka and Longwood University: Discover the Power in You

  • Dittus Communications and the Customer Education Advisory Board: DC is Electric

  • Manning Selvage & Lee and Procter & Gamble: Febreze/Swiffer– Spring Allergen

  • Mentus and HollisterStier: HollisterStier: Brand Evaluation Research

  • Ruder Finn and Novartis: Novartis Thrives in an Industry Under Siege

  • Text 100 Public Relations and Sprint Nextel: Creating a New Dimension of Entertainment


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