Working with non-profits and community agencies and services can be both rewarding and challenging. We stretch and flex our strategic and creative skills to come up with a winning plan, often with little or no budget. In this case, when Cooper-Smith Advertising learned in the Fall of 2020, that our local fire and EMS services were in desperate need to pass a much needed levy during a pandemic, we jumped in to help. The ballot issue was the first request for new money since voters approved a combined capital and operating levy in 2014, and the new funding was greatly needed to keep up with the community demand for service. The 1.9 mil Levy would provide resources to maintain and improve the personal safety of all Sylvania citizens by addressing a 35.7% increase in service calls over the past five years. This increase was driven by explosive population growth and changing demographics in the community. In addition, Sylvania Fire/EMS had more than twice the number of total service calls than the next-busiest suburban department in Northwest Ohio, yet their current staffing was the second lowest among six peer districts.
Despite the legitimate need for the additional funds, the COVID-19 pandemic had wreaked economic havoc on the Sylvania community, just as it has done in cities across America. Passing a levy during a Pandemic, as well as a time of social and political unrest, was no small feat. A key part of the challenge was to establish the right voice in reaching out to voters during a financially difficult time for so many. Equally important was to get the message out to educate and influence as many voters as possible through effective and financially efficient marketing channels.
Pass a 1.9mil Levy for Sylvania Fire/EMS during a time of health and economic crisis for so many citizens.
With very little lead time and a limited budget, we decided social media, in coordination with the firefighters’ direct mail and earned media efforts, would be our best plan of attack to gain the support of community leaders and influencers. In collaboration with Fire Department and Local Firefighter Union leadership, we formed a marketing task force to ensure that we could gain the approvals needed to create a robust presence in very short order. In less than a month, Cooper-Smith established a content strategy, key message map and branded social media Sylvania Township Fire Department CHALLENGE Despite the legitimate need for the additional funds, the COVID-19 pandemic had wreaked economic havoc on the Sylvania community, just as it has done in cities across America. Passing a levy during a Pandemic, as well as a time of social and political unrest, was no small feat. A key part of the challenge was to establish the right voice in reaching out to voters during a financially difficult time for so many. Equally important was to get the message out to educate and influence as many voters as possible through effective and financially efficient marketing channels.
Facebook, Twitter and Instagram were the primary social channels used to push out a variety of branded educational posts, with a cadence of 1 post per day, for a six-week campaign period. We also utilized a boosted post strategy on Facebook. Creatively, we wanted the posts to be engaging, informative and have great emotional appeal. We featured Sylvania firefighters, business and community leaders to deliver the key messages and encourage the community to vote yes. A series of testimonial videos, as well as original photographs were used to tell an authentic and compelling story. We also created a branded frame for the posts to draw attention. Everyone involved helped to expand our audience by sharing to their personal pages. The social effort, combined with other campaign tactics and grass roots events, kept “Issue 13” top of mind for the six-week period leading up to the November election.
We are pleased to have seamlessly navigated the nuances of the Fire Department, the Union and numerous committee members, all while being mindful of political advertising rules and restrictions to create a successful campaign. In collaboration with everyone involved, we accomplished our mission and the Sylvania Community Fire/EMS Levy passed. Specific performance metrics include:
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