encourage “a thousand points of light” to shine
Refresh key messaging for the R&D STEM Learning Exchange of The Illinois Science & Technology Institute (ISTI) to align with its new strategy and direction.
Key Insights
A review of existing communication materials produced these key insights:
“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.
Quick Wins
Refreshing problem and mission statements created a “North Star” for key messaging:
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)
Big Wins
Defined stakeholders; developed and tested key messaging; delivered a messaging guidance document for training; updated website copy and collateral; prepared an external marketing presentation; delivered two written case studies; and prepared the 2013-14 year-end report which they shared with stakeholders via an email newsletter.

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