NOAA 200th anniversary push advances mission

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) conducts various educational activities through its individual units, such as the National Weather Service.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) conducts various educational activities through its individual units, such as the National Weather Service.

Its history dates back to the nation's first "Survey of the Coast" in 1807. The NOAA wanted to capitalize on that history to build brand awareness.

"We'd like eventually to... be as well known as NASA," says Dave Miller, NOAA senior public affairs officer.

Strategy

Using the anniversary of the first US coastal survey is a way to explain the evolution of the agency and indicate its importance, notes Dave MacFarland, operations manager for NOAA's Center for Operational Oceanographic Products and Services. The two-year effort's foundation is the ongoing educational programs NOAA's scientists and researchers conduct.

Tactics

Drawing on a strategic plan that Martin Schaffer helped develop, NOAA created educational materials, as well as "Celebrating 200 Years," a special section of the NOAA Web site, with photos, feature stories, and more. Locations for educational outreach efforts range from state fairs to classrooms to open houses at NOAA facilities. "This is something that can't be driven by a headquarters perspective," notes Miller. Helping to build enthusiasm among NOAA's employees are related internal campaigns, including "Postcards from the Field" e-mails, which show employees working in exotic locales.

Results

"We're getting large numbers of people drawn to these events," MacFarland says. "At every one of them, we're getting lots of praise." Visits to the Web site are also up significantly. Internally, an average of nearly eight "Postcards" a week are now distributed.

Future

The effort will continue through the end of 2008. "This is an evolutionary process... and will take a few more years to solidify," Miller says.

PR Team: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Washington) and Martin Schaffer (Bethesda, MD)

Campaign: NOAA Celebrates 200 Years of Science, Service, and Stewardship

Duration: January 2007-ongoing

Budget: $1.5 million

 

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