“Toamna bobocilor”, the movie directed by Mircea Moldovan, has never been more authentic than in 2020, when the entire Romania has turned into the village of Viișoara, one that did not exist on any travel map, that could be reached only through an ancient road made of stone slabs from Roman times. Although all civilized humankind took all summer to get ready for the new school year, in the country of Romania in the year 2020 authorities seemed to worry only about the local elections, while school was just a building used by the citizens to carry out their right to vote. And that was all.
The education had remained a concern only for the millions of parents and few NGOs struggling to find ways to streamline online schooling, a way in which school was expected to be carried out for a long time from now on.
With all these being given, Brio®, an online educational platform, has aimed a great goal: to keep track of and improve both the academic performance of the students in grades I-XII and the confidence on both parents and teachers, while generating a visible improvement of the entire Romanian educational system. Brio® is more than an idea whose time has come – it’s a fully-fledged DeepTech SaaS educational platform, authorized by the Ministry of Education and Research, that was conceptualized according to the most rigorous global standards. One of those few fortunate businesses where profit and social purpose go hand in hand.
Led by one of the most important contemporary names in educational testing worldwide, Prof. Dragos Iliescu, PhD — current President of the Psychological Assessment and Evaluation Division of the International Association of Applied Psychology (IAAP), and former President of the International Testing Commission (ITC) — The Brio® team leveraged unique world-class knowledge and scientific research capabilities in order to develop specialized IP educational-sciences (intellectual property) of an unprecedented quality and scale.
In 2020, Brio®’s business goal was to attract an infusion of capital and trust by taking a new step towards development by listing on SeedBlink, the largest equity crowdfunding platform in the region.
Thus, the company started an extensive campaign to inform the general public, teachers, school directors and education authorities about the benefits of national standardized assessment.
Such a precisely developed product could be communicated only with a similar rigor in terms of getting to know its audiences and the most effective ways to communicate with them. For the general public, the idea of standardized testing was practically non-existent, Brio® being a first of its kind. Therefore, the communication strategy was based on a qualitative study to assess the perception of students, parents and teachers on the relationship with educational institutions, the accuracy of grading and alternative testing methods.
Asked about alternative testing methods, parents appreciate a standardized testing system as completely objective. Which is separate from that of the Ministry of Education which allows „verification” of teachers. Moreover, parents consider as unsatisfactory the use of general terms or stereotypes such as „he is a good kid”. Regarding the assessment, most parents consider that there is no equivalent ratio between the results of school assessments and the actual level of students and that it is purely „orientative” with 1-digit variations (+/-) between the „official” and the real level of the student. Moreover, Romanian parents stated that they would be willing to make annual investments of up to 300 lei in tools to test the knowledge level of their children.
OBJECTIVES: Although a super-premium tool in the field of education and the only digital platform of scientifically grounded solutions for educational testing and evaluation, Brio® was a virtually unknown platform in the spring of 2020, with a number of 12.000 users. Thus, the main communication objective became building reputation for Brio®in order to increase the number of users. Based on the research results and a very good product, with a high satisfaction rate among users, we aimed to increase the number of users to 50.000 in September, before listing on SeedBlink.
TARGET AUDIENCE: The communication campaign was intended for students in grades I-XII, parents, educators, schools and other institutions involved in the educational process in Romania. The universe consists of 3 million students, 210 thousand teachers, 7 thousand principals. The institutions involved in the educational act, targeted by this campaign are: the Ministry of Education and Research and the School Inspectorates.
- Media: print, online, radio, podcasts, TV
- Own channels: website & social media (Facebook, Instagram, YouTube)
- Endorsers’ channels: social media, blogs
- Direct meetings with authorities’ representatives
- Attracting a min. no. of 50.000 new users recruited through the campaign
- Attracting a min. no. of 100 schools in the project, schools that use Brio® in all classes
- Attracting a min. no. of 5 endorsers to promote the platform
- up to 50% of the coverage to be in publications of general interest and education
- more than 50% of the coverage to be in business publications in order to attract as many investors as possible at the time of listing
PHASES OF THE CAMPAIGN
A. EXAMENE CU BRIO® (EXAMS WITH BRIO®)
In March 2020 Brio® has been launched as a freemium package (with the generous involvement of Dedeman Association), and rapidly adopted by both children and teachers. In less than three months Brio® has been used by more than 20.000 children, 400 teachers and was running more than 200.000 preparatory tests for Baccalaureate and National Evaluation.
The interruption of school classes, as well as the pivoting of education towards the digital environment have stepped up by several years the awareness of the need for digital tools in the learning process, among all the actors involved in education. Exams with Brio® was an effort of social involvement with the mission to support in this difficult and delicate period – both students and their families, as well as teachers of Mathematics and Romanian, forced this year to use complementary tools to support the preparation for the exams.
The first phase of the communication campaign was addressed to students, parents and teachers and had three strategic pillars: media relations, influencer relations and digital. On the media relations component, we have planned a large reach on national general publications, a 100% penetration of the education channels, with an extension to local and regional media, aiming to facilitate the access to information for all students and teachers in the country. We supplemented the traditional media with online communities of students and teachers, such as the Romanian Teachers Group, the largest community of pre-university teachers in Romania, which brings together almost 45 thousand teachers. The information was distributed by 296 teachers to their micro-communities, which strengthened our belief that Brio® was a viable solution for teachers in that context.
The communication activities for the announcement of the National Free and Unlimited Pre-Testing Program generated 125 media coverage materials in the central and local press, distributed as follows: 3 TV, 4 radio, 5 print, 3 newswires, 110 online.
B. SCHOOL MUST GO ON
The second phase of the campaign aimed to implement Brio® testing in as many schools in the country. Dragos Iliescu, himself a well-known teacher and rector, had meetings with representatives from the Ministry and school inspectorates, to discuss with them on the opportunity to introduce this tool in schools. Anticipating resistance to change from the authorities, Brio® commissioned a perception study among the adult population in Romania on the relationship with educational institutions, the accuracy of grading and alternative testing methods. Asked about alternative testing methods, parents appreciate a standardized testing system as completely objective. Furthermore, they consider it a tool for verifying and / or confirming the evaluation carried out in the public education system, which offers the possibility to identify the level of each student, without the tendency to compare performances between one student or another, as well as the opportunity to monitor the student’s progress in a given period. Also, parents see standardized testing as a separate system from that of the Ministry of Education that allows „verification” of teachers. With this data on the table, standardized digital tests for students were a good alternative for inspectorates.
The first two phases also had the online media component, so School Must go ON! was promoted with the help of promoted posts (minimum budget) and Exams with Brio® with the help of Facebook ads, Google ads, as well as through programmatic Advertising – Brat DMP.
C. INVESTESTE CU BRIO® (INVEST WITH BRIO®)
Third phase of the campaign aimed to attract potential investors to make a bet on education. The focus was now shifted to the business media and influencers for whom rational number-based arguments are the only ones that work. The quick pace with which students and schools enrolled in the platform in the first two phases of the campaign was the ultimate argument that Brio® is a business in continuous development. Brio®’s business model is focused on volume. With a small value of acquisition, the profitability depends on large numbers of users. The company’s market value in September was estimated at 2.7 million euros. Thus, the 9.09 % opened to the private equity market was worth 270.000 Euros.
The volume of communication was maximized starting with September 1st (the month traditionally perceived as the start of school in Romania), two weeks before the actual listing, through an intense activity of pitching interviews with Dragos Iliescu. The focus was on video interviews in key business publications, radio and even TV. The period concurred with the end of the local election campaign, and we are often amused that the Brio® spokesperson received similar exposure to those who were running for mayor. The style of communication was focused on storytelling to dress the figures so much sought after by investors in a language accessible to the general public. The market was boiling with an infusion of information about school and education, and the highlight was September 14th, the day in which the new school year begun for pre-university levels. We chose this day for the public announcement of Brio®’s listing through a press release. Business publications and shows amplified the information delivered and after only 3 days since the listing was made, 50% of the amount had already been collected.
Opportunities To See for the entire campaign with 29 million OTS in General and Education Media (48%) and 32 million OTS in General and Business Media (53%)
175 press materials
(out of which 5 TV prime time news).
4 audio interviews
(BT Talks -podcast, ZF, Radio Guerrilla, Radio Romania Actualitati)
on owned social media channels (Facebook, Instagram & YouTube)
expressed public support for Brio: Tudor Chirila, Vlad Voiculescu, Andi Moisescu, Dacian Ciolos, Catalin Tenita, Cristina Stanciulescu, Dragos Stanca, Vlad Petreanu.
total 73.000 new users
- A. EXAMENE CU BRIO® (31.782 new users, 105.896 finalized tests, 100 schools enrolled)
- B. SCHOOL MUST GO ON (8.344 new users, 67.451 finalized tests, 260 schools enrolled)
- C. INVESTEȘTE CU BRIO®:
46 investors & 242.500 Euros
INNOVATION & CREATIVITY
The campaign delivered beyond expectations. The extraordinary coverage results in which we explained the advantages of the system generated an unexpected acceptance rate from parents, students and teachers and a fast completion of the seed investment.
As a proof of gaining very fast notoriety, at the Innovators for Children competition, held in the fall of 2020, Brio® ranked first and obtained the largest funding among all projects registered, 30.000 euro. Innovators for Children is an accelerator dedicated to tech start-ups that bring a positive impact to the wellbeing of children and adolescents, through scalable innovation.