The Illinois Science & Technology Institute (ISTI) brought me on as a consultant to align and refresh key messaging for the R&D STEM Learning Exchange. We began with this process:
- Review and organize existing content
- Identify challenges, overlap and inconsistencies with current content
- Provide guidance and recommendations for consistent, effective communications
Right away, I refreshed their problem and mission statements:
- Problem statement: The dual shortage of students exploring STEM careers in post-secondary education and college graduates pursuing STEM careers will limit Illinois’ ability to fill anticipated job openings and compete in a global marketplace
- Mission statement: Spark student interest in STEM careers to build a pipeline of professionals that become Illinois’ future innovators
After reviewing existing communications materials, here were a few of my initial takeaways:
- “What” vs. “How” Focus on what the R&D STEM Learning Exchange is working to accomplish (i.e. mission statement) before talking about how you accomplish it. Relate your solutions to your problem statement.
- Students and Teachers First. While all stakeholders are important, avoid enumerating every stakeholder because long lists are hard for your audience to remember. Instead communicate your desired impact on students and teachers. Without them, the pipeline to cultivate innovators and fill STEM job vacancies could not be built.
- Use Buzzwords Sparingly. Buzzwords vary by sector. Given the nature of your cross-sector partnerships, using “common language” to introduce initiatives will be more effective than defaulting to buzzwords that may be unfamiliar to some.
Over a three-month process, I worked with ISTI to define stakeholders; develop and test key messaging; deliver a messaging guidance document for training; update flyer and website copy; prepare an external marketing presentation; deliver two written case studies; and prepare the 2013-14 year-end report which they shared with stakeholders via an email newsletter.