Better Beginnings, a program of the Arkansas Department of Human Services, connects Arkansas families with information and care that helps their children experience a safe, happy, healthy childhood. Better Beginnings is designed to improve the level of quality in childcare and early childhood education programs across the state.
Our specialists conducted focus group research with families of young children in Arkansas. The results of the primary research revealed that Arkansas families often did not perceive Better Beginnings classroom environments as learning environments. The reason for this perception was the focus that Better Beginnings placed on the concept “learning through play.” Our public relations specialists and Better Beginnings staff wanted to teach Arkansas residents what high-quality child care looked like in practice. Our creative specialists developed a concept that demonstrated kids’ daily tasks in a Better Beginnings program could become learning experiences. Our specialists chose digital videos based on secondary media consumption data conducted by organizations like Pew Research Center.
ComGroup annually leads the Better Beginnings staff through a strategic planning session to determine objectives, strategies and target audiences. The planning session consists of a diverse group of management and staff members from DHS. During this year’s planning session, our specialists discussed the need to educate Arkansas families on the concept of learning through play. Essentially, we needed to demonstrate to families how a child learns when he/she plays.
Our creative specialists created eight messages to demonstrate learning through play before putting the concept into action via a series of short-form digital videos. The messages developed encouraged parents and grandparents to interact with their children and help them learn through everyday activities. The objectives of the digital shorts were to develop a conversation with families in Arkansas about high-quality daycare and to provide online resources for those families. The plan for distribution was based on the client’s target audiences, parents and grandparents of children birth to age five. Our specialists set a traffic increase goal on the Better Beginnings website of 10 percent. The videos were promoted on social channels with links to the site.
Production and placement of the videos happened in the calendar year 2016. Based on Instagram’s 15-second video limit (at time of production), our specialists created 15-second digital shorts for each message to showcase a specific aspect in the developmental stage of a child. The next step was to choose channels to reach the most visitors in the target audiences. This approach allowed us to leverage paid reach to drive engagement with each target audience and drive traffic to the website. The channels used in the campaign with the shorts included Facebook, Twitter and Instagram – we used a combination of organic and paid posts. The budget for production and online advertising support was $20,000.
One challenge we faced was demonstrating the somewhat complex concept of learning through play in a 15- second video. The single-word creative concept we used was a major part of the success. The other unique challenge was to develop a video series that providers saw as valuable enough to share with parents in their own channels. Provider feedback following the launch of the series proved that they perceived the videos as valuable enough to use as content on their own.
The client marked the digital shorts as successful based on feedback. According to analytics, we far exceeded the goal of success. Our specialists measured more than 14,200 video views. Our specialists also indicated new visitors on the website increased by 65 percent in the calendar year. The client was contacted in 2017 by representatives of a quality child care initiative in New Jersey that requested permission to use the videos and creative concept in their own materials based on the effectiveness of the series. We learned sub-segmenting each audience to a specific message and visual will increase more awareness of quality childcare for that particular targeted group. We also learned through the number of views from paid media to increase the budget for the next year, because paid media allowed us to better reach our target audience.