A few years ago, the United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism faced an extraordinary challenge and a unique opportunity. The number of Conservative synagogues had declined in recent years, Many of the remaining congregations were seeing slumps in their membership numbers. Adding to the malaise, they were disenchanted with what they saw as United Synagogue’s lack of leadership and humdrum programs. The situation erupted into a major crisis.
A new management team came in and implemented a dramatically different strategy. In particular, new, well-received programs were put in place. As a result, USCJ was much better positioned to celebrate its Centennial in 2013. However, the new leadership was still struggling to reverse lingering perceptions of their limited value-added. The Centennial offered a once in a lifetime opportunity to trumpet the organization’s evolving new brand loud and clear.
United Synagogue’s Marketing and Communications Department reached out to Public Voice NY in September of 2012 for nonprofit event marketing services. They knew they needed more capacity to market the event properly. They also wanted a fresh perspective on branding. Plus, they wanted to use the event to change perceptions of the organization’s brand as a whole.
We started by eliciting stakeholder input. Next we developed an energizing and welcoming Centennial brand. This included the tagline “the conversation of the century” and other messaging. The goal was to celebrate a collective moment to talk openly, honestly, constructively, and imaginatively about building vibrant communities for the new century. We worked closely with Twistnshout, who provided the art direction.The resulting graphic design was a dramatic departure from the organization’s past staid image.
Both messaging and graphic design were fully integrated with all communications about the truly phenomenal program United Synagogue had planned. In keeping with the tagline, the strategy featured crowd sourced questions from throughout the movement. In addition, the marketing was significantly more social, proactive, pervasive, and targeted at particular audience segments than past efforts.
Public Voice NY and Twistnshout were hands-on throughout the year leading up to the Centennial. We helped the talented USCJ marketing team set up a robust, interactive micro-site for the event. Then we used it as a framework to mount an integrated print and digital ad campaign, as well as segmented email marketing, social media, and direct mail.
United Synagogue staff and leadership offered an extraordinarily rich, varied, high quality, and inspiring Centennial program. The constituents got the word, and they came in droves. The attendance far surpassed the most optimistic projections. The atmosphere was electric. As a result, member congregations and their leadership were ready to give USCJ a serious second look.
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