Edible Schoolyard New Orleans (ESY NOLA) is a progressive charter school program that incorporates an organic garden and kitchen to expose students to growing, cultivating, marketing and cooking with fresh, locally grown produce. ESY NOLA's innovative garden-to-table educational curriculum is taught in five schools operated by FirstLine Schools in inner city neighborhoods. Each year ESY NOLA hosts a casual yet upscale fundraiser in the gardens of its flagship location, Samuel J. Green Charter School, that features more than 20 local restaurateurs showcasing the produce grown in the school’s Edible Garden.
In 2011 and 2012, markit360 was selected as a partner by ESY NOLA to market and promote An Edible Evening, capitalizing on the event to deliver the larger message of ESY NOLA's dedication to helping children in under-served communities by providing students and families education, access and exposure to fresh organic produce through hands-on cooking and gardening. The agency's aim was to utilize Media Relations, Public Relations, and Social Media to encourage involvement in the Edible Evening event and bolster ESY NOLA's relationships with sponsors, partners and other stakeholders.
markit360 provided Public Relations services, including media release writing and distribution, media relations, and Social Media services in support of the third annual An Edible Evening in March 2012. The goals of the campaign were to leverage the Edible Evening event and restaurant partnerships through primarily earned (non-paid) media; to increase public awareness of ESY NOLA's mission, programming and relationships within the culinary community; to drive attendance, sponsorships and ticket sales to An Edible Evening; and to increase knowledge of An Edible Evening and support of ESY NOLA among people not traditionally involved with the organization.
Exposure for An Edible Evening was so strong that the client was forced to turn down media opportunities as they prepped for the festivities. ESY NOLA easily topped its sponsorship goals for An Edible Evening and ticket sales for the 2012 event were on pace to beat the prior year's attendance of 800 people. Despite a day of heavy rain and street flooding that threatened the event, ESY NOLA Earned media exposure included a wide range of radio, print, online and television opportunities, including an interview on WLAE TV’s “New Orleans Living,” and morning drive and noon-hour cooking demos on three local broadcast stations, as well as a night-of feature segment filmed during the event with interviews of the event co-chairs and the title sponsor.
Radio features included interviews with the Executive Director, Event Coordinator, Development Director and Chef of the non-profit, as well as on-air interviews with ESY-NOLA and its featured wine sponsor on local radio shows devoted to Food and Wine. In addition, the event was listed on a variety of calendar listings and An Edible Evening received both preview and post-event coverage in several local print publications and web blogs.
markit360 wrote and posted over 20 Facebook posts, photos and video links between late February and late March, resulting in ESY NOLA’s Facebook page earning 16% more Likes during the period, and garnering social media engagement by several event sponsors.