The Long Island Challenge was facing its own challenge. It desperately needed more involvement from local high schools. The highly popular Cablevision/Newsday/News 12 program, which pitted teams of Long Island High School students against each other in an academic championship. Producer Brad Dorsogna (Purple Crayon Productions), mastermind of the Long Island Challenge concept and the previous annual competitions, agreed to a program versus a simplistic outreach. The goal for enrollment was 70 high schools minimum, with 80 indicating a reasonable success.
PMG's strategic direction started as a positioning effort that established importance. After all, most schools never make the first cut, which could be deemed embarrassing. The program explained the benefits to students and capitalized on the willingness of faculty and administration to energize students academically.
PMG had less than one month to coordinate the pre-promotional campaign, which entailed contacting every high school on Long Island to gather contact and mailing information. And unfortunately, the first day of these efforts will be remembered for other, more horrific reasons: The calls to schools started on Tuesday, September 11, 2001.
The tactical plan included two promotional waves. The first began with phone calls and followed up with letters and fax blasts. The second wave consisted of additional phone calls, and a direct mail media kit. It included a two-minute orientation video, promotional brochures and point-of-contact posters to enroll students.
PMG's first wave of promotional efforts yielded 58 schools, and the second wave generated an additional 42 schools for a grand total of 100 schools...a full 25% over the goal.
Dorsogna, who produces many other educational programs for kids, remarked, "I've worked with many agencies in my career, but never a strategic marketing organization. There's nothing more reassuring than to have the strategic expertise of people like the PMG crew on your side, because they function as an integral part of your own team. It's a seamless deal. The Long Island Challenge would not have been such a big success without their direction, initiative, dedication and determination.