ACT turns to Ogilvy to overhaul image

IOWA CITY, IOWA: ACT, the nonprofit standardized testing organization, has hired Ogilvy PR to help reshape its image from a college readiness assessment company to a more consumer-centric focus.

IOWA CITY, IOWA: ACT, the nonprofit standardized testing organization, has hired Ogilvy PR to help reshape its image from a college readiness assessment company to a more consumer-centric focus.

The 50-year-old company has launched a multi-year outreach effort with the help of the WPP agency that targets stakeholders including students, parents, and administrators; federal, state and local officials; and the media.

The work encompasses traditional media outreach and social media spanning ACT's website, Facebook, and LinkedIn.

“The new position is to go from being known as a testing company to a company that provides insight that can unlock the potential of an individual from kindergarten to career,” said David Cumberbatch, CMO of ACT.

In 2013, ACT will continue its mix of PR, social media, and events to alert the public that it is changing. “We're trying to create that word on the street where people say ‘have you seen what ACT is up to?,'” he added.

The change in focus from a b-to-b model to direct to consumer is challenging in the face of competitors such as IBM and Cisco with their multimillion dollar ad budgets, said Cumberbatch.

The company is promoting products such as ACT Aspire, a digital, longitudinal assessment system that fully connects student performance from elementary grades through high school that launches in 2014.

ACT research showed a direct link between early assessment and intervention and the improved likelihood of students succeeding in school and reaching their college and career goals.

“Were in the right place and right time in that we're trying to close the disconnect between the education system and workforce needs,” said Judy Brennan, Ogilvy's EVP of corporate reputation in the Midwest.

Ogilvy has already helped secure placements for ACT in the New York Times and on Fox News.

“We have a lot of a lot momentum in shifting perception of the company,” said Jennifer Risi, EVP and head of Ogilvy's Media Influence group. “But we're only scratching the surface and the media is just starting to understand what ACT is doing. We're going to work to solidify that next year.”

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