Multi-audience evaluation of a public awareness campaign.
As exhibit designer Tom Hennes observed in an article about the future of natural history museums, science museums are no longer content to describe the natural world in neutral, dispassionate terms. Increasingly, they’re taking responsibility for that world and inspiring their visitors to better protect it.
A leading institution is conducting a campaign inside and outside of its own walls to increase public awareness of threats to a cherished natural resource. The staff asked Slover Linett to support and evaluate the campaign in several ways. First, we delved into the literature on behavior change, environmental education, and social marketing and interviewed leading thinkers and do-ers in this field. We wrote an extensive (and alas, proprietary) best-practices report.
Next, we helped the museum's project team develop a formal “logic model” for the initiative. (Logic models are a simple, powerful tool that all kinds of nonprofits can use to clarify their intentions and desired outcomes.)
Then we designed and conducted a region-wide telephone survey of adults in several states in the region, including a “control group” of counties in which no campaign activities had taken place. Extensive statistical analysis yielded key insights about the target audiences and revealed how the campaign could be improved (see sidebar). The survey will be repeated in future years to see how the institutions efforts are “moving the needle” toward greater urgency.
More recently, we conducted an ethnographic evaluation of the museum's outreach activities at environmentally-relevant festivals around the region. This project used a combination of observation, interviews, and surveys among festival-goers to create a fully-rounded picture of how the initiative’s outreach activities can be optimized to meet the long-range goals.
Currently, we're conducting a round of stakeholder interviews with environmental, industry, and academic leaders to help the project team plan a series of gatherings to improve stewardship of this natural resource. Our findings will help the initiative add a "grass-top" level to what is already a successful "grass roots" campaign.