From 2012 to 2015, under the guidance of Senior Partner David Guarino, Melwood Global was a primary strategic communications, messaging and social media consultant for ED’s signature effort to assist states across the nation implementing the groundbreaking Race to the Top grant program. Under sub-contract from ICF International, Melwood worked closely with the Department’s Reform Support Network (RSN) and designed a thoughtful and creative social media outreach plan to help Race to the Top reforms successfully communicate and engage with key stakeholders in several states.
Among the many achievements resulting from this project, Guarino was the primary author of the Department’s first-ever publication on social media to help communicate around reform efforts, Building Enduring Race to the Top Education Reforms. That effort, and a succession of national webinars led by Guarino which followed, resulted in hands-on technical assistance work by the Melwood team with seven states focused on communications and engagement, involving specific work on social media issues, including Ohio, Georgia, Maryland, Colorado, Hawaii, North Carolina and New York.
Melwood also spearheaded an effort to showcase, through a detailed questionnaire and follow-up interviews, how state and local education agencies were effectively using social media in reforms to communicate and engage with key audiences. This effort resulted in the RSN publication Measurable Success, Growing Adoption, Vast Potential and a series of webinars with state and local officials hosted by Melwood’s team. In addition to technical assistance, Melwood’s staff provided project management support to ED staff on several separate facets of the RSN work, particularly focused on educator evaluations and integrating all of the various facets of reform under Race to the Top to ensure each was communicated effectively and that project deliverables were met.
Throughout the course of the three-year project, a multitude of methodologies, tools and processes were utilized in this extensive work effort. Melwood worked collaboratively with senior leaders at ED, ICF International and other contractors to create, fine-tune and execute the best strategies, tactics and tools for each project facet. There are several potent examples of this, such as utilizing Melwood’s expertise in analyzing social media trends, databases and analytical reports to help guide our social media analysis and recommendations; using our experience as journalists and government press officers to help determine the ways state and local educational agencies are using social media, the opportunities they are seizing and the challenges they face; and using our knowledge of the communications landscape to make effective suggestions for more robust communications work – from using unusual (for some in government) platforms such as Pinterest to connect with teachers to helping advise on the best use of staff to tackle internal, external and mass communication challenges.