The forestry folks wanted to sell official state license plates branded with their look that would let people know just how important their work really is. Unfortunately, longstanding outreach and awareness issues threatened their success.
We won this business in an RFP process in which all competitors proposed to sell more license plates than the next guy. Not us. As they say, we saw the forest through the trees. We understood that until folks knew about the TUFC, and what the group does for the urban environment, the license plate program (or any other for that matter) would wilt. We know from experience that objective editorial endorsements are more effective in reaching consumers than paid product advertising is. We also know it’s measurably cheaper, so we proposed a tandem media and public relations initiative as our hero. In an initial strategy session with board members statewide, we identified the present and former relationships that needed replanting, identified glaring obstacles in the member benefits program, and constructed the first branch of an integrated communications program that would net new recognition, new members, and a few license plates sales for Tennessee’s cars.
Reaching first into urban areas most aligned with nature and sustainability campaigns, we experienced good and early success when the Associated Press picked up our story – as did the state’s largest newspapers statewide. We also landed television and radio appearances, which played multiple times and also posted online. We introduced the TUFC to nearly 100 news organizations statewide. We augmented the media outreach with a consumer email marketing campaign (it’s friendlier to trees than traditional direct mail is) and placed TUFC’s message directly into the inboxes of consumers. In all, Envolve planted the seeds for long-term relationships, many of which have been helping to grow the Urban Forestry Council ever since.