Understood.org Nonprofit Media Relations Campaign

The Opportunity

Understood.org, a free education resource and community for parents of the 1 in 5 kids in the U.S. with learning and attention issues, retained Belfort Group (BG) to generate awareness of the challenges faced by millions of parents and caregivers through a national media relations campaign. Our goal was to make Understood.org the go-to expert for print, broadcast and online media that are covering special education and parenting topics related to the 1 in 5 kids with learning and attention issues and their families.

The Strategy

BG leveraged news events and key “moments in time” to build awareness and create interest in Understood’s message. We conducted a series of “discovery sessions” and interviewed Understood leadership and experts to develop a solid understanding of the nonprofit’s mission, goals, messages and compelling stories. BG developed relationships with national reporters/producers who cover education and learning disabilities to position Understood as a media resource and insert the organization into the national conversation around learning and attention issues vs. learning disabilities (a term that does not incorporate ADHD)

The Result

For Learning Disabilities Awareness Month (October), BG recommended Understood commission a survey of parents on Back-to-School related stress, which made the front page of UBG Today, and BG secured coverage in the Washington Post for a story on what parents of dyslexic children can do to help them learn to read. When the Supreme Court issued a landmark ruling in the Endrew F. case on the level of services public schools need to provide students with learning disabilities, BG activated Understood experts and secured a total of 598 media placements reaching an estimated 269,000,000 people. Placements were secured in the following: Politico, The Atlantic, NPR, and the Associated Press. For Learning Disabilities Awareness Month, BG embraced the challenge of securing local and national monuments and landmarks to be illuminated in the Understood colors of purple, blue and white. BG researched and contacted 45 monuments, coordinated outreach, permissions and photographers in each city, and illuminated seven locations across the country in just six weeks. The landmark locations were secured at zero cost in priority locations, including Niagara Falls, L.A. International Airport and Boston’s Zakim Bridge. Additionally, BG secured seven stories in U.S. News & World Report featuring Understood (and its founding partners). Each story reached an estimated 23 million readers. The Hechinger Report, an outlet dedicated to covering inequality and innovation in education, featured Understood’s experts and many of the organization’s founding partners in a four-story series.