As part of my research into engaging parents with campaigns, I thought it would be worthwhile to investigate existing campaigns to see if anything could be learnt from them. Here are the most interesting that I have found.

The NEA Priority Schools campaign, is a community-based, social marketing campaign, that strives to increase parental engagement between schools and hard-to-reach ethnic minority groups. One USA school, wanted to engage with Hispanic and African American families, so the school set up a Parents’ Council, which initially started as a summer program of workshops. The school realised that parent outreach was much more than a meeting, and was about creating ‘a community of trust’. Work started initially where these groups lived, right in their community. This ensured that the parents started to see the school working in their neighbourhood and that they started to build rapport and trust over time. The school offered classes and activities that supported the parents, such as computer classes and parenting classes, in Spanish, and parents from this community offered their time to run or assist with the class. The program regularly discussed the needs of the target audience to ascertain what was needed by the audience, which aided success. The school created an inclusive climate, adopted a culturally sensitive approach and drew on community support to aid success.

Another example of a campaign, using social marketing, is The School Foods Trust Free School Meals campaign, which was set up to raise parents’ awareness that their children may be eligible for free school meals, and that they could be missing out. This campaign utilised technology that parents use to engage with them. This was supported by other offline and online materials. This campaign used Bluetooth technology, placed at large, local supermarkets, in Wolverhampton, and was supported by promotion in telephone boxes and on notice boards. A third of phone users accepted the Bluetooth message (Schools Food Trust, 2010). In a slightly different version of this campaign, notices advising of potential eligibility were put up in an ASDA supermarket, and an in-store community life champion was trained to offer advice and promote the free school meals option.

The final campaign I want to highlight is The Washington State Campaign, CHILD Profile, which focused on tackling a drop in child immunization, a change ascribed to increased perceived parental concerns linked to toxicity of vaccines, and side effects, as well as the fall in the number of disease cases in the developing world. Often these concerns were based on information from traditional and new media. The campaign focused on hesitant parents (who are still open to immunization), as a target audience. Research looked at specific and unique perceived barriers, and a positioning and marketing strategy was designed to remove these barriers and highlight benefits. As there was scepticism by parents, a two-sided message (praising immunisation and identifying shortcomings) was used, which has been found to be effective (Kotler & Lee, 2008). Alongside the campaign spokesperson, local media channels and health professionals help to spread the word. Data and rational argument are important, but the campaign message was required to come from a trustworthy source (perceived or actually sharing a common goal with the audience), as well as resonating with the audience.