Posted by: COSI | October 29, 2008

Communicating the COSI Message

One of the challenges I’ve been finding is sharing the full story and messaging regarding COSI. First there is WHAT we are messaging. We’re faced with helping our community see COSI in a bigger role—we’re still a great place for families (and messaging our #1 national ranking)—but we’re pushing out more into being a “cradle through career” organization for those with an interest in science and technology.

We lead Miracle-Gro Capital Scholars, one of the top teen programs in the country that has a cohort of Columbus Public School students, some facing significant life challenges, being supported to ultimately earn a full college tuition scholarship from the program sponsor—yet hardly anyone knows about the program.

COSI is becoming more of a community hub and gathering place for forums and events—but again only a limited portion of the community is aware of the myriad of activities taking place here now.

Then there is the issue of HOW we communicate. In a world cluttered with media/communication intrusions (like elections), how does a non-profit center with modest marketing budget get the word out—whether it’s about programs or messaging our value to the community? How much should we rely on this whole Web 2.0 world (within which this blog gets categorized)?

COSI can now be found on YouTube, Facebook, and Twitter among others; we’ve started using Yammer internally; and we have a Ning social network site seeking to connect with the million campers that have experienced our groundbreaking Camp-In program with the local Girl Scout Councils.

Yet, when I talked with Nina Simon (who writes the Museum 2.0 blog) at our recent international science center conference, she told me I’m still one of the few CEOs writing a blog—so am I hanging out like a fool taking time on these, or are my colleagues a step behind?

It was partly comforting to know that good old print media is still recognized, and in our case rewarded for excellence. The Ohio Travel Association (OTA) recently had a luncheon where they handed out their Ruby Awards for excellence in marketing. COSI won the following:

Doug and Carli with Ruby Awards

Doug and Carli with Ruby Awards

Note that the Ruby Award is the top award and the Citation of Excellence is the runner-up in each category. I’m so proud of our marketing team members, with Carli and Doug in the picture showing off the award winning publications they delivered as our communication tools.

What do you find are your most effective means of communicating the message of your organization, or the best way you’ve personally connected with the COSI communication and messaging? I’d love to hear your response.

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