Challenge

20-years of Decay

The University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science (UMCES) created Western Lake Erie’s first-ever Lake and Watershed Report Card. UMCES scored key indicators of ecosystem health were scored, providing a geographically detailed assessment of the basin and watershed covering areas of Ohio, Michigan, Indiana, and Ontario. UMCES wanted to emphasize the importance of Lake Erie, as it provides drinking water to more than 11 million people and produces more consumable fish than all the other Great Lakes combined.

Yes& was tasked to drive media attention to the report, which reflected a 20-year decline in water quality from nutrient pollution. But first, we had to overcome several challenges: the news was very localized to Western Lake Erie’s bordering states, travel was not permitted due to the coronavirus, and location news stations focused on what a return to school would look like for students in the coming weeks.

Solution

Attacking One Thing at a Time

An event hyper-focused on one area during a global pandemic did not make our work any easier. Here is how Yes& used locality to our benefit to ensure a successful press conference for UMCES.

Local Doesn’t Have to Mean Small

Communities, organizations, businesses, and governments are affected by the health of Lake Erie. By creating targeted media lists and advisories, we were able to expand the news to cover beats outside of environmental protection and secure additional reporters.

Local Celebrities

To drive awareness for the event, Yes& secured key speakers who would present and explain the significance of this year’s report. Those individuals were the Mayor of Toledo, Lucas County Representatives, and Dr. Andrew Elmore, lead scientist for the UMCES Western Lake Erie project.

Considering COVID

The world was tired of staring at their computer screen and sitting through yet another generic online meeting. Through vibrant and descriptive visuals aids, we were able to make the data easy to read and digest. This allowed reporters to understand the information being given to them and report back to their readers without overwhelming them with numbers and statistics.

Results

Virtual Works!

Yes& was able to secure more than 2M impressions for UMCES Western Lake Erie press conference. Coverage included, but was not limited to, the Toledo Blade, Monroe News, NBC4 - WNWO, WTOL 11, and FOX36 - WUPW.