Department of Commerce arm sells USA Today on value of its global education effort

The Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration's primary media goal is to raise awareness for President Obama's National Export Initiative.

Name: Carrie Fox, president, C.Fox Communications (Silver Spring, MD)
Placement: USA Today, June 29, 2011
Timeline: Three months

Who is your client and what are its media goals?
The Department of Commerce's International Trade Administration's (ITA) primary media goal is to raise awareness for President Obama's National Export Initiative, which looks to double US exports within five years by targeting business and general-interest press.

What made USA Today a good target for this initiative? How did you pitch reporter Mary Beth Marklein?
We sought to drive home the message that higher education ranks among the top US service exports. Marklein covers education from a broad perspective, which made her a great target.

We pitched her the exclusive to travel on the education trade mission to Indonesia and Vietnam to see firsthand how the ITA helps US-based colleges and universities develop partnerships with higher-education institutions overseas. The organization then worked with Marklein to map out her schedule and develop a proposal that she could take to her editors.

Was there a particular news hook or message regarding the Department of Commerce for this campaign? Were there any challenges in either organizing the trip or getting the story placed?
Positioning higher education as an export piqued Marklein's interest, as did the data point that international students and their families living in the US brought in nearly $19 billion to the American economy during the 2009-2010 academic year. Our next challenge was securing travel budget from USA Today, which at the time was heavily focused on the Royal Wedding.

Once funds were secured, the ITA handled all logistics during the trip in early May. Upon her return, we provided Marklein with additional interviews, information, and art.

What was the hit's impact?
USA Today's in-depth cover story ran June 29 as a wrap- up of the trade mission. The story accomplished the organization's objective of garnering a high-profile article about the benefits of international education and exchange to America. It has since been used as a tool for university officials seeking to learn more about the effort.

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