Girl Scouts Communications Deoartment

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Company: Girl Scouts of the USA, New York, NY
Company Description: GSUSA is a nonprofit committed to developing girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.
Nomination Category: Corporate Communications, Investor Relations, & Public Relations Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Communications Department of the Year

Nomination Title: More than Cookies, Camps and Crafts, Girl Scouts Drives 21st Century Conversations around Girls’ Leadership

Tell the story about what this nominated department achieved since January 1, 2014 (up to 650 words). Focus on specific accomplishments, and relate these accomplishments to past performance or industry norms.

In 2014, Girl Scouts of the USA achieved major media milestones by probing new arenas to revitalize our brand and taking calculated risks appealing to today’s caregivers, girls, and consumers. With limited staff and resources, GSUSA’s Communications team brought a 102-year-old organization into the twenty-first century, planning and executing impactful communications strategies for several major initiatives.

In March 2014, GSUSA joined forces with the Lean In Foundation to co-sponsor the “Ban Bossy” campaign, whose mission is to encourage leadership in girls by ending use of the word ”bossy.” While inspiring girls and women to lead and giving practical leadership advice, Ban Bossy and GSUSA garnered 14.6 billion media impressions. The campaign became a Google Doodle, and its star-studded PSA got 2.6 million hits on YouTube. GSUSA worked together with our Ban Bossy partners to secure a placement on the cover of Parade, and prominent coverage from “Good Morning America,” “ABC Nightly News,” “Nightline,” The Wall Street Journal Blog, and Fortune, sparking an international conversation focused on girls and leadership.

GSUSA continually faces the challenge of creating communications plans that benefit our 112 local councils by garnering attention on locally and nationally. By revealing 30,000 girls were waiting to join Girl Scouts nationwide, GSUSA systematically focused the annual recruitment campaign on engaging volunteers to dissolve waitlists. Simultaneously, GSUSA used captivating new data to showcase how both girls and volunteers benefit from the experience (e.g., 89% of parents say that because of Girl Scouts, their daughter is happier; 88% of volunteers believe their life is better because they volunteer with Girl Scouts). GSUSA helped councils leverage these statistics by developing toolkits to engage media through tactics like “op-ed flashmob” pieces written by council CEOs for placement. GSUSA put out a NAPS release that reached 28.3 million people and participated in a co-op SMT that reached 14.3 million people. Nationally, GSUSA aligned with notable former volunteer Robin McGraw for a segment on Dr. Phil, and got Michelle Obama to tweet her support of our campaign, driving web traffic. When GSUSA’s membership decline was publicized, GSUSA turned it into a call for volunteers with an appearance on “CBS Saturday Morning,” among other major press. The 2014 campaign reached 42.6 million, compared to 2.5 million in 2013, and redirects to GSUSA websites increased from 13,000 to 73,000.

In December 2014, GSUSA announced a groundbreaking addition to our iconic cookie program—Digital Cookie. Our objective was to consistently communicate the digital enhancement to our stakeholders. For the first time, GSUSA enforced a movement-wide press embargo for millions of girls, volunteers, and staff, inviting only select major media to an exclusive preview, hosted by girls from local councils. As a result, GSUSA secured coverage in all major markets that resulted in nearly 4 billion local and national media impressions. Digital Cookie became a pop-culture phenomenon, trending #1 on Facebook and receiving coverage on “Saturday Night Live” and “NYC Taxi Jeopardy.” In addition to securing mentions on all morning news shows and virtually all major national publications, Girl Scouts was deemed “Brand of the Day” by ADWEEK, and Fast Company ranked us among the World’s Top 10 Most Innovative Companies of 2015 in Not-for-Profit. Digital Cookie drove a record 5 million people to our website, and 11 million Girl Scout Cookie–related page views. GSUSA secured additional accolades at CES, where TIME and The New York Times ranked Girl Scouts as the most unlikely yet most important brand on site. The Wall Street Journal deemed Digital Cookie the one item from CES 2015 “that will change our lives or habits forever.”

Throughout 2014 and 2015, GSUSA stories saturated the media. From empowering girls, recruiting volunteers, and unveiling arguably the biggest news story in Girl Scouts’ history, GSUSA’s Communications team worked tirelessly to ensure every media outlet in the country knew that Girl Scouts builds girls of courage, confidence and character who make the world a better place.

In bullet-list form, briefly summarize up to ten (10) of the chief accomplishments of this nominated department since the beginning of 2014 (up to 150 words).

• Ban Bossy and Digital Cookie Campaigns alone secured over 18 billion unique media impressions between March 2014 and January 2015.
• Our campaigns were far reaching and transformative in terms of brand identity, within the Girl Scout Movement, and in the public mind.
• Instituted and enforced the first-ever Movement-wide embargo of Digital Cookie – a highly sensitive campaign of which thousands of people were aware. News of the initiative did not leak, allowing GSUSA to control the story.
• One of the first girl-serving nonprofits ever to attend the Consumer Electronics Show.
• Multiple hits throughout the year in New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, as well as Good Morning America.
• GSUSA’s Communications Department garnered historic web traffic for the Girl Scout Movement in 2015; driving over 5 million people to our primary website, and over 11 million Girl Scout Cookie related page views.