Ready To Learn

Social marketing practitioners in public health, environmental and safety programs understand that telling the public what they “should” do is not sufficient to change behavior. To encourage people to stop smoking, use seat belts, eat fruits and vegetables, exercise, or recycle, social marketing practitioners rely on commercial marketing’s conceptual framework. This approach, seldom used in education, places consumers at the center of an exchange process where they can understand their choices and choose to act if the value of the changed behavior is worth its “cost.”

As part of its Ready To Learn Grant, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting (CPB) invited AIR’s social marketing team to join forces with the Public Broadcasting Service (PBS), and local PBS stations. AIR’s role was to use this audience-driven approach to reach out to parents and caregivers to help them improve the reading readiness of the youngest members of low-income families. AIR then worked closely with twenty PBS stations and their partners across the nation to support the delivery of the messages and related programs to the target communities.

AIR’s audience research took many forms including an environmental scan, interviews with national and community organizations, focus groups, in-home observation, key informant interviews, and demographic studies. (All reports listed here were prepared for the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and published in Silver Spring, MD by AIR, unless otherwise stated.)

Ready To Learn program environmental scan (2006)
Findings from interviews with national organizations (2006)
Findings from interviews with community organizations (2006)
Ready To Learn families segmentation analysis (2007)
Focus groups with Ready To Learn families (2007)
In-home interviews and observations with Ready To Learn families (2007)

Developed based on the audience research, messages and materials were tested to establish their effectiveness with the target audience.

Report of concept testing: PBS Ready To Learn DVD for parents (2007)

AIR’s research showed that messages should:

  • relate to parents’ desire to help their children succeed in life;
  • explain how simple behaviors (rhyming, word games) can help reading readiness;
  • show how these activities can fit into families’ everyday lives; and
  • emphasize that these activities are ways to have fun with their children.

Consequently, the campaign slogan became “Anytime is learning time.” Primary messages changed 1) from readiness for school to readiness for life, 2) from asking parents to be their child’s first teacher to asking parents to help their children succeed in life, and 3) from asking them to engage in “special literacy activities” to asking them to engage everyday activities that are fun and easy and help their children be ready to read.

Once materials and programs were actually out in the communities, AIR conducted appeal and demand research to evaluate their perceived usefulness and effectiveness for the target audience.

Reading camps: 2007 program (2007)
Report on appeal and demand of the Raising Readers with PBS KIDS DVD distributed as part of the PBS KIDS Raising Readers Campaign (2008)

Twenty PBS stations developed extensive outreach programs to effectively connect with parents and caregivers. Working with PBS, the producers of children’s programming, local stations and their partners, AIR developed several outreach marketing initiatives and supported others. AIR then conducted an outreach marketing assessment.

Report on the street marketing survey conducted as part of the PBS KIDS Raising Readers Campaign (2008)
Summary of street market survey findings in four markets: Birmingham, AL (APT), Oakland and San Francisco, CA (KQED), San Antonio, TX (KPBS) (2008)
Report on Corporation for Public Broadcasting’s 2008 Ready to Learn marketing outreach assessment (2008)

To learn more about AIR’s role in Ready To Learn community outreach, read AIR’s case study or view these PowerPoint presentations:

Galdo, J. H. and Agin, L. (2009, June). Ready To Learn: A Social Marketing Approach for a National Education Campaign.

Galdo, J. H. (2009, June). Social Marketing: Let the Audience Drive Your Communication Strategy.

Hurtado, M.P. (2010, May). A Social Marketing Approach to Promoting Literacy-related Behaviors Among Low-income Families. In C.P. Garnette (Chair), The Ready to Learn Initiative: a 360-degree surround approach to enhancing early literacy skills.

To learn more about the Ready To Learn program, visit Findings from Ready To Learn 2005-2010 (April 2011).