U.S. Department of Energy
The U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy (EERE) is helping to create and sustain American leadership in the transition to a global clean energy economy. Starting in 2014, The Hannon Group and its JV partner were awarded two communications contracts from EERE, worth a total of $46 million. Through these contracts, The Hannon Group worked with the EERE Communications office, 10 technology offices, and 7 operations initiatives to communicate EERE’s successes and opportunities to a variety of stakeholders using the full range of outreach channels and methods.
Specific services provided by The Hannon Group included public information development and dissemination, media outreach and public relations, stakeholder engagement, multimedia and graphic design, web-based and digital services, event support, and market research. Support needs varied by office – some programs required high level, strategic communications support, while others requested support for day-to-day communications needs. Examples of projects conducted under this contract include the following:
- Strategic and Tactical Public Relations and Outreach Support – The Hannon Group provided strategic and tactical communications support for technology offices, including development and implementation of strategic communication plans. Activities included organizing events, developing messaging, and implementing media and stakeholder relations initiatives that effectively targeted specific EERE audiences.
- Strategic Media Relations Planning, Implementation, and Analysis for EERE’s Multiple Technology Areas – The Hannon Group supported EERE’s media relations activities—from planning, to implementation, to tracking results. This included managing a high volume of public and media inquiries for the EERE Communications office from the first email or phone call, through the interview process, to the subsequent tracking and analysis of activity. The team also pitched articles and developed positive working relationships with mainstream media and trade journals on behalf of technology programs. In addition, our trainers provided multiple media training sessions for high-level EERE officials and other spokespeople across the organization.
- Services in Generating and Improving Editorial Content/Publication and Information Development, Execution, Maintenance, and Communications Reporting Activities – The Hannon Group provided EERE with public information materials development and revision support by conceptualizing, designing, developing, drafting, editing, formatting, producing, and distributing a wide range of technical, informational, and promotional products for public, media, and other audiences.
- Web/Digital Content Development and Maintenance – The team supported EERE by developing and reviewing site content for the EERE website; and ensuring adherence to EERE, White House, Plain Writing Act, and Section 508 standards.
- Strategic and Tactical Multimedia and Digital Media Services – The Hannon Group provided EERE with a full spectrum of multimedia, commercial art, and graphic design support for publications, websites, and other products―from conceptualizing layouts, templates, and branding, to drafting and editing written content, to maintaining inventory and tracking metrics. Our designers also created custom artwork (such as logos, charts, and graphs) for presentations, reports, brochures, manuals, newsletters, posters, exhibit booths, and more. In addition, our team produced multiple videos in support of EERE, including videos on the Solar Vets program, Solar Decathlon, bioenergy successes, an informal video featured on social media on the “mannequin challenge” for the Fuel Cell Technologies Office, and an animated video for the EERE Communications office. Our staff also took photos at major EERE events.
- Brand Strategy and Management, and Communication Standards and Enforcement – Through our years of support for EERE Communications, The Hannon Group gained a thorough understanding of federal and EERE communications standards and guidelines, including the product review and approval process. In developing materials, team members took a proven, value-added approach that emphasized identifying and applying existing client brand requirements and print standards.
- Administrative Support – Our team members were responsible for the development and review of multiple administrative deliverables and reports for EERE, as well as coordinating between stakeholders to facilitate development of materials. Examples of administrative activities for EERE include development of the EERE Policy Calendar; liaising between Public Affairs, EERE leadership, and EERE technology offices; and maintaining a repository of reports.
One challenge for EERE and The Hannon Group was the fact that this was the first EERE communications contract that spanned all EERE offices; the communications work had previously been embedded within technical and administrative contracts. As a result, it was necessary for The Hannon Group to work with EERE to identify and separate the existing communications work, analyze requirements, and establish all new tasks to support those activities. Bringing a combination of strong communications capabilities and decades of federal communications experience, The Hannon Group was able to successfully transition more than 20 tasks and onboard talented, qualified staff to support the new task orders.
Another challenge was that there were multiple programs with unique support needs. As The Hannon Group is adept at understanding the communication needs of specific programs and initiatives, the firm was able to recruit staff that most effectively addressed these diverse needs.
Altogether, The Hannon Group successfully managed a total of 66 task orders in support of EERE communications. This success was due to factors such as the team’s responsiveness to program and contracting office requests, understanding of EERE technologies and federal contracting requirements, quality of deliverables, and strong communications skills. As a result of these capabilities, The Hannon Group team members earned three Assistant Secretary IMPACT awards and two Rock Star awards under the contracts – a significant honor as both awards are only given to EERE’s top performing staff and contractors. The Hannon Group also earned the appreciation of the contracts office for managing the contract transition and implementation in a seamless, responsive manner. This was reflected in the firm’s “exceptional” CPARS rating in all four evaluation areas (Quality, Schedule, Cost Control, and Management) for both contracts for interim and final reviews.
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH)
The Hannon Group worked with the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) to design and implement a national campaign promoting workplace safety in the construction industry. The falls prevention campaign, titled Safety Pays, Falls Cost, targeted small residential contractors across the country. The campaign was formally announced and launched by Secretary Hilda L. Solis, U.S. Department of Labor, in Los Angeles, California, to coincide with the annual Workers' Memorial Day observance.
In order to design and execute an effective and impactful campaign for NIOSH, The Hannon Group developed and conducted a two-phase research effort to identify successful approaches. Phase one involved conducting an environmental scan to find out what other countries were doing to address the issue and creating a database of strategies, tactics, and campaign products. Phase two entailed a 15-session focus group study in 4 U.S. cities to gain feedback from target audiences on the identified products from the scan.
Based on the results of this exploratory research, The Hannon Group was able to create a national strategic communications campaign to promote NIOSH’s message. To enhance campaign brand awareness, The Hannon Group created a number of products in both English and Spanish, including a logo, tagline, infographics, testimonial/safety videos, posters, fact sheets, op-eds, feature stories, advertising/public service announcements, and a website. Our team also developed and implemented a media relations outreach plan to extend key campaign messages to target audiences and stakeholders through traditional and innovative communication outlets, including print, radio, broadcast, online media, and construction industry media. In addition, we conducted numerous studies to evaluate the reach and impact of the campaign, including in-depth interviews and online surveys to collect data for statistical analysis.
The contract presented one challenge that we were easily able to overcome due to our expertise in research design and execution. Because a national campaign promoting height safety to small contractors in the United States had not previously been conducted, there were no studies or evidence of what messages, strategies, or creative materials would work. Our solution was designing an integrated research program using two research modes, including an environmental scan and a national focus group study, to inform the campaign.
Research results indicated notable campaign accomplishments—in just one year, more than 30 organizations joined as partners; more than 30,000 hard copy, campaign materials were distributed; more than 51,600 products were downloaded from the campaign website; and media coverage was achieved in trade outlets, such as EHS Today, and general outlets, including FOX News, ABC, NBC, and CBS affiliates. The Hannon Group led the efforts to document the evaluation of the campaign in a manuscript that was accepted for publication in the American Journal of Industrial Medicine.
Further, The Hannon Group was consistently praised by NIOSH and its planning partners—including the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Center for Construction Research and Training (CPWR)—for our performance under this contract. We always met or exceeded deadlines for deliverables and controlled costs to stay within budget. Client satisfaction with the quality of our work was demonstrated by NIOSH and CPWR awarding additional contracts to our company. In addition, within the campaign’s first year, The Hannon Group and NIOSH won an industry award (a Thoth award) for our excellent communications services in support of the falls prevention initiative.
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