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Posted on 02.10.2011
Media Relations Boosts School Enrollment
One in 150 children is diagnosed with autism today – and the numbers continue to increase at a rate of more than 20 percent a year. However, experts say current public education and social programming for students with autism is limited by a lack of resources and expertise, and many students do not receive the individualized programming they need.
Educational Services of America (ESA), the nation’s leading provider of special and alternative education, created an option in Florida, which ranked sixth in the nation with nearly 8,000 cases of autism in children ages six through 21. ESA established a non-profit corporation dedicated to the education of children and young adults with autism and was awarded a grant by the Florida Department of Education to plan and develop an autism center of excellence near Tampa.
The challenge was to inform parents quickly that the new school was established – and was accepting applications.
Strategy and Tactics
While the Tampa area was a primary market, Lovell distributed a news release nationally to address the public’s keen interest in autism and to enhance ESA’s presence on web sites and search engines. The firm secured more than 45 media placements and ESA received more than 200 inquiries from parents interested in enrolling children at FACE.
Lovell announced the establishment of the FACE enrollment hotline and an additional 60 media placements were secured. Hundreds of parents from all over the country called the hotline for information.
Fees to implement the campaign were approximately $35,000. FACE opened six months later with more than 100 students, resulting in $1.5 million in net revenue and increased awareness of an important education option for children with autism.
“The aggressive media relations efforts of Lovell Communications Inc. had a direct impact on our bottom line. Most of the parents who called us about the Florida Autism Center of Excellence said they read about us in the newspaper or online. The school opened with more than 100 students, including several whose families moved from their homes in other states to Florida because the media coverage of our school inspired them to contact us. We received an excellent return on our investment. Fees totaling about $35,000 resulted in $1.5 million in net revenue.”
President and CEO
Educational Services of America