Jumpstart sets new record in effort to promote literacy

Founded in 1993 to encourage college students to tutor preschoolers in literacy, language, and social skills, Jumpstart today operates on more than 60 campuses nationwide and works with more than 10,000 kids.

Founded in 1993 to encourage college students to tutor preschoolers in literacy, language, and social skills, Jumpstart today operates on more than 60 campuses nationwide and works with more than 10,000 kids.

But the group sought to promote literacy to more parents than it had yet been able to do. The idea: gain new awareness by setting a Guinness World Record in the new category of "most number of adults reading the same book to children on the same day."

Strategy

Key to the campaign would be promotion of the www.readfortherecord.org Web site, which provided a central, accessible source of information for people to sign up to read The Little Engine That Could. By registering participants, the site would also help the Guinness organization monitor the event.

Tactics

Books were printed free by Pearson Penguin and sold in Starbucks everywhere, with all the money passed along to Jumpstart. In addition, Today host Matt Lauer was recruited to promote the event and read the book on the August 24 show. Brian Reich, senior strategic consultant at Mindshare, says outreach to Jumpstart campuses also helped foster viral marketing that drew people to the Web site.

Results

Jumpstart succeeded in setting the Guinness World Record, as more than 120,000 people in 46 states read the books to kids, with additional participants still registering following the event. "Since the big day, they've had 90,000 people confirm that they participated, and they haven't processed them all," Reich says.

Future

Jumpstart plans to set a new record next year with a different, yet-to-be-determined book. E-mail lists created using this year's participants will also be used to promote Jumpstart's longer-range campaign to provide monthly information on better preparing preschoolers before they start school.

PR team: Jumpstart (Boston) and Mindshare PR (Boston)

Campaign: Read for the Record

Duration: August 24, 2006

Budget: About $45,000 for Web site operations

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