I (we) are looking for ideas of what a region wide (New England and New York) media campaign to promote conservation to landowners and towns would look like.

Givens (I’m calling them givens for now but they are up for discussion)

  1. Measurable outcomes,
  2. Outcomes include land conservation,

Questions to answer:

  1. Can all of our RCPs collaborate on a big grant to fund a marketing firm that would work with all of us to create a multiyear media campaign?
  2. Would people be willing to take the time to attend several meetings/focus groups to accomplish this?
  3. Do we create a common landing web site that would allow the landowner/town to enter their zip code and answer a few questions about what they are looking for and be given a list of RCPs/land trusts that offer those programs in their area?
  4. What other ideas do you have?

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  • The Givens are right - what really is our goal for the media campaign? Then, 1) do we have a baseline to judge the campaign on? 2) What goals and baselines make sense region-wide, or can we segment the market in a cost-effective way, while maintaining the brand message across multiple platforms? 

    Land conservation  - what does that look like? Donations of funds and lands to RCPs and/or their members? Collection of information? Awareness raising? 

    What funders might be interested in this? and what would the cost roughly be? Depends on the scope of the product (TV, radio, print, digital), frequency and length. Are there RCP partner organizations that might have resources that can be pooled? 

    I like the website idea of allowing people to act locally - are there any existing examples out there - folks know of already? (i.e., use multiple organizations). 

    Happy to help think/plan this through if folks want to move ahead. I'd be happy to reach out to others in my field about estimates when the time comes. These guys do amazing PSA campaign work - though I haven't talked with them in a while: 


    • Hi Jim and Sarah,

      I think there is keen interest in developing a shared message and media campaign within and among RCPs, and there are also some fundamental questions:

      • What is the key audience for the campaign?
      • What behavioral change do we need to impact with the campaign?
      • How will we know our message is working?
      • How long will our campaign be?
      • How many times can we go back to the same audience within, say, five years?

      In my opinion, we would not pursue a campaign unless we were trying to raise money or had a source of funding to spend quickly. I do not think we want just to reach out to landowners because most land conservation trusts do not have the capacity right now to deal adequately with a new wave of owners wanting to sell their land or development rights.

      One idea is that we could collaborate to raise money for a Fund for New England/Eastern New York Forests (for example) that would be around for a while - say a five+-year window. We could raise money privately for two to three years, and publicly for two years. We'd then turn around and use the funds as small grants or to pay due diligence costs of far-below-market-value easements in geographies based on donor interest. Overall, 90% of the funds raised would go to the region of their choice. 10% would go to a pooled fund to enable connectivity of projects. 

      That's just one idea. There are probably plenty of others. To me, the key is that the media campaign is a way to get something else done. It is a tool, not the end.

    • Hi Sarah & Bill & All,

      What if the funding (and we'll talk about where that comes from a bit later but I have some thoughts) pays for:

      1) a fairly sophisticated web site, and

      2) the design of the actual media campaign, and

      3) the delivery of the media campaign for a given period of time (say 1 or 2 years)


      We might not need baseline data if the website handled collecting the data.  The website might ask questions of the landowner about what they are interested in and how they heard about the site. When it forwards them on to the particular RCP or land trust it could also notify the RCP or land trust and keep track of the specific 'transaction', even sending reminders out to follow up with the landowner or report in during stages of the process. The RCP would ultimately fill out a survey of the outcome of that landowner contact. So, the web site has a database that does a lot of the work of tracking and helping to manage the landowner contact and also measuring the outcome. When I say we might not need baseline data I guess what I'm really asking is; can the clock start ticking with the beginning of the project where we are measuring how many new landowners we reach that are not already aware or engaged (they self report)?

      I think we’d have to put some collective thought into goals. One measurable goal that comes to mind is acres conserved but I realize that not every RCP is conserving acres (KWP for instance). So, then can we also include educational component such as participation in woods forums, landowner workshops, etc? When I think of the media campaign I think of an overall message for the general public that “land conservation is a good thing” , “Woods. Good!, farmland, good!, keeping them that way, Good!”. I’m not sure how you measure that part of it but I’m other people know how to. So, yes, I guess the whole segmenting the market question is something we’d need to figure out. So, Bill, I think the bulleted questions that you ask are all very good questions for which I don’t have the answers but will throw some thoughts out there anyway:

      • Key audience – landowners,

      • We want them to visit the web site and take one of (4 maybe) actions that involve engaging with an RCP or land conservation organization,

      • We measure with the web site as described above,

      As far as raising a pot of money before we do the campaign: I don’t know? Does that just delay implementing a campaign that could be raising awareness for us? Will the RCPs find the capacity if the demand increases? Will funders respond to an increased demand? Can we make that argument? Chicken or egg? (I don’t know)

      I do agree. What’s the point of a media campaign for the sake of a media campaign? So, it definitely should be focused on a goal? (or goals?) And be measurable.

      As far as funding goes. It seems that if we get a enough partners, across a bit enough region that are interested in participating we might be able to go after some big grant money. Speaking for my own RCP, a match for a grant like this for use would have to be in-kind time. We couldn’t afford to contribute any substantial funds.

    • Bill's points are all excellent and I agree with figuring the audience and goals. The audience piece is always the first and most important piece. And that may be very different from state to state. Funding is always a hurdle, and getting baseline data across the region is key - once we determine what that information should be and how we get it. Funders like measurement as well. 

      Has anything similar been done across a large region elsewhere? I think that some conservation partners with previous or existing PSA/ad campaigns might have some valuable lessons learned we could capitalize on and some may be useful partners for such an endeavor. The Forest Service also might be ideal - they have one of the longest and most successful PSA campaigns in history for forest fires. 

      Public education always a key goal - it comes up again and again in our own work on forestry items; on a related note - people often have to see that there's a problem in order to be spurred to action. Just worried enough to do something, without scaring them so much that it's hopeless. Something to keep in mind as we think about what issue(s) we address and what we ask them to do. 

      Conserve land for climate, jobs, public & environmental health, recreation....etc. 

    • One of our options is to use a workshop session at the 2016 RCP Network Gathering to explore this project idea. I mean, it is one of the RCP Network's priority actions: Region-wide media campaign to promote conservation to landowners an...  We could have a panel that includes folks from US Forest Service (PSA department) and RCPs that are already involved with their own messaging and landowner outreach campaigns, like MassConn.  We could design it so that a big chunk of the 90-min was, in essence, a facilitated big workgroup discussion of how to do it and why.

    • I think this would be a good starting point - happy to help plan/facilitate/participate in such a session at the Gathering. 

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