Strategy of the Week

The media have already started to obsess on what a post-war Iraq
will look like. Yet they're still getting around to covering
dinner-time issues like healthcare and education. To wit, Widmeyer
Communications, a Washington, D.C.-based PR agency, has been able
to get some decent traction for its client, The National Commission
on Teaching and America's Future, following the release of the
group's report in January titled, "No Dream Denied: A Pledge to
America's Children." The report showed that the real problem facing
the education system was retention - and not necessarily a
teacher's shortage. With rare exception, most school districts were
recruiting enough teachers, just not keeping them, according to the
report. Widmeyer planted the seeds with the press six months in
advance, contacting reporters across the country to build the case
that on the issue of teacher retention they were quite possibly
burying the lead. "We had facts showing that retention is the major
problem," says Stacey Finkel, senior account manger at Widmeyer.
"While reporters have been constantly reporting on this story,
they're open to different sides if you build trust." By the time
the story hit the street, reporters were ready to reconsider the
conventional wisdom on why there are not enough teachers in the
nation. Stories on the study ran via the Associated Press, The
Philadelphia Inquirer, The Los Angeles Times and The Washington
Post. The Philadelphia Inquirer also referred to the retention
study in a separate piece about a local, retired teacher that ran
two weeks after the initial story appeared, suggesting the report
will have a decent shelf life for reporters covering the education