Michigan Department of Education Partners with Ann Arbor-Based Creatives to Produced Award-Winning PublicationFeb 25th, 2002 Posted in All, Press | No Comments »
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Imagine that the State Board of Education has just appointed you Superintendent for Public Instruction. Now imagine that you have a 30-day window to prepare a polished, inspired and all-around brilliant presentation outlining your plan for making Michigan a model of public education for the world.
That’s exactly the situation Tom Watkins faced when he stepped into the role of Michigan Superintendent of Public Instruction on April 30th of last year. From the moment he accepted the appointment, the former President and CEO of Palm Beach County’s Economic Council was a man on a mission: determined to strengthen and improve Michigan’s schools and “to put the public back in public education” by enlisting the energy, talent and creativity of every stakeholder in the entire state. His short-term goal was to present a conceptual blueprint for re-energizing public education at the Detroit Regional Chamber’s annual gathering of 1500 key business and community leaders scheduled for May 31 on Mackinac Island. Little did he know that his efforts would not only generate national public interest but would also garner awards for excellence from a branch of the American Advertising Federation.
Mr. Watkins asked questions, listened, took notes, and compiled feedback from schools, colleges and universities, business and labor organizations, nonprofit agencies and faith-based groups, legislators, senior citizens, parents, students, and citizens of every political persuasion. By May 15th, he had amassed over 30 pages of concepts, thoughts and observations. At 11:15 that night he called Michigan Department of Education Chief of Staff Pam Wong. She recalls, “He said he had an idea. I said it better be a darn good one given the hour of the night.” The big question at that point was: what next? How do we take reams of wonderful but disjointed ideas and turn them into a coherent and memorable message? She solved that problem by calling on the Ann Arbor-based creative team of Jill Wagner of Ann Arbor graphic design firm, Wagner Design, and Linda Fitzgerald of Fitzgerald Communications LLC.
As Ms. Wong notes, there was some initial shock to be overcome: “When I explained that we had approximately eight days in which to write, design, produce, and print a high-quality, four-color brochure, the immediate reaction was: is this do-able? But all of us were so excited about the project, and the ideas it contained, that we decided to forge ahead. We set up a hyper-accelerated production schedule, rolled up our sleeves, and one small miracle seemed to follow another.”
In the space of one 12-hour workday, writer Linda Fitzgerald produced a first draft. Within 36 hours, a final, edited version of the text was handed over to Jill Wagner and her design team. The printer, Dearborn Lithograph, agreed to give the project priority space on its presses. And by noon on May 30, Tom Watkins and his staff had several hundred copies of a bright, bold, accordion-format brochure entitled “30 Ideas in 30 Days/Our Children, Our Schools, Our Future: A Call for Collaboration and Action.”
That brochure not only drew accolades from the legislators, educators and interested citizens assembled on Mackinac Island. But, on February 15th, it also captivated the judges of the 2002 American Advertising Awards Competition sponsored by the Ann Arbor Ad Club, an affiliate of the American Advertising Federation (AAF). Intended to recognize excellence in communications and marketing, the annual competition draws hundreds of entries from throughout the region. In addition to a Silver Citation, “30 Ideas in 30 Days” also received a Judges‚ Choice Award, a mark of special distinction and one of only four such honors presented at each competition.
“Delighted and surprised,” is how Pam Wong describes the reaction of Michigan Department of Education staffers when they received the news. “Obviously, we didn’t embark on this project with the goal of winning awards,” she notes. “But it’s gratifying to know that we managed to get our message across so effectively and professionally. And if these honors draw more attention to Michigan Public Schools and the challenges and opportunities before us, so much the better!”
For more information or to request a copy of the award-winning brochure, contact Pam Wong at 517-241-2077, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org. Questions about the Ann Arbor Ad Club and the 2002 American Advertising Awards Competition can be referred to Linda Fitzgerald at 734-761-8440 / email@example.com or Jill Wagner at 734-662-9500 / firstname.lastname@example.org.