the sally sisson blog


April 22, 2012

Earth Day interactives: Copywriting with a conscience for corporate clients

I’ve worked on a few copywriting and content development projects for SUBWAY® Restaurants and their SUBWAYkids.com group over the past year (via the Boston office of ad agency Jack Morton Worldwide).

My latest project, an interactive game and content for a campaign developed with The Nature Conservancy, the world’s leading conservation organization, is now live on the site. This spring, every SUBWAY Fresh Fit for Kids Meal comes in a reusable meal bag with a special code to unlock the interactive game and bonus eco-facts and video clips.

“With your help, we can work to reduce, recycle and reuse—and clean up the planet.”

Kids play the “Eco-Quest” by picking up pieces of trash along their journey through habitats on three levels: land, air and sea. With each clean-up or successful answer to a question, users are rewarded with an ec0-fact or a downloadable Nature Conservancy feature on an endangered or at-risk animal whose habitat is threatened by pollution. Check it out at www.subwaykids.com.

Pretty basic, as it’s designed for younger users, but kind of fun. And it was definitely fun to work on. Kudos to big corporations like SUBWAY for catching on, cutting down on waste and encouraging the use of reusables.

Speaking of Earth Day and jumping on the green bandwagon…

The Earth Day content I wrote a couple years ago for the Think Green website, developed for Discovery Education in partnership with Waste Management, is still live on their site. Check it out if you’re looking for creative activities for grades K-2, 3-5, 6-8 or 9-12. The content is evergreen because, as they say, every day is Earth Day.

By the way, Waste Management, the largest recycler in North America, is offering discounts on battery recycling kits for business as a special Earth Day promotion this year. Find out more about this and other features, like recycle-by-mail programs, at www.wm.com.

ThinkGreen.com: Earth Day Ideas

 

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February 1, 2011

Extreme Content: How is web writing like extreme winter weather?

Ready Classroom 2

A: You’ve got to be prepared for both.

When a client needs web content, sometimes it’s just a home page or a few headlines. Sometimes it’s the whole thing – 1st, 2nd and 3rd level pages plus links and special features.

Light to moderate to heavy

For the Ready Classroom website, Discovery Education needed the whole package: research and writing for a dozen categories of extreme weather and natural disasters, customized content for each of the 50 states, copy to cross-reference it all, and creative standards-based lesson plans for different grades ranges for K-12.

On top of that there were different strands for three different audiences. All content had to be run through Discovery Education as well as the Ad Council and FEMA (the Federal Emergency Management Agency), their partners for this particular project.

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Stock up. Hunker down.

Web writing involves a range of skills: research, writing (both copywriting and long-form content), editing, organization, planning, critical thinking. It also takes time, especially a job of this size. It can be enjoyable to dive deep into a topic and stay holed up for a while. The key is to be be prepared (clear your schedule, line up childcare), stock up on supplies (decent snacks, decent coffee, case of coffee filters), and prepare for a couple all-nighters. Note that it’s good to come up for air every once in a while, whatever the weather.

Toolkits, checklists and survival skills.

We’re getting pretty hard hit with winter weather this year, some parts of the country worse than others. Just this morning I consulted Ready Classroom to check my own family’s state of preparedness for this week’s monster storm. According to FEMA, the Red Cross and my own trusty tips, we still have another trip or two to the hardware store before ticking all the boxes on our Disaster Preparedness Checklist.

Check out the site and see how you stack up. Are YOU prepared?

The calm after the storm

Judging by the broken flashlight and half-empty box of kitchen matches by my side, I would not win many Girl Scout badges for preparedness. However, the content I developed did score some points: Ready Classroom won a 2010 BESSIE (Best Educational Software Award), which made those days and nights in my underground bunker all the more worthwhile. Read more here.

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November 22, 2010

Where’s Bill Nye When We Need Him?

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Climate Change Skeptics vs. 21st Century Skills Movement in Schools

I’ve got Bill Nye on the brain. I miss seeing him on PBS and now he keeps popping up in unlikely (online) places. Recently he was featured in an Utne Reader blog post (“Bill Nye is the Archbishop of Scientism”) that described his take on the current climate change debate. Having been awarded the 2010 Humanist Award, he was extolled for his “unflappable faith in science.”

In his words:

Climate change is going to affect the world in ways that are truly hard to imagine. And it’s this hard-to-imagine nature that’s costing us so dearly in time. We’re losing valuable time because of disbelief in the scientific method.”

Math + Science = Future

A couple weeks ago Bill joined Al Gore and U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan in a Global Online Town Hall forum called “Math, Science and the Future of Our Nation.” More than a thousand students joined in the live discussion about the future of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) education.

Other panelists included astronaut Sally Ride, inventor Dean Kamen, and the stars of Discovery Channel’s MythBusters. The program was just one small piece of Connect a Million Minds (CMM), Time Warner Cable’s $100 million philanthropic initiative to advance education and careers in STEM fields.

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Meanwhile, back at the ranch…

In October the National Journal reported that 19 of the 20 GOP Senate challengers deemed climate change a non-issue, declaring the science behind it either inconclusive or wrong. Some of those same politicians are now gunning for seats on the House Energy Committee, and pledging to attack existing environmental policies, discredit scientists, and do away with the EPA’s authority to tighten emissions controls on coal, oil and other carbon fuels.

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This flies against the findings of the National Academy of Sciences and 97 percent of the world’s climate scientists.

Separation of Science and State?

As a citizen and parent, I find this disconnect deeply disturbing. As someone who writes about science, technology and trends in K-12 education, I find it mind-boggling.

Science is a key focus of the 21st Century Skills movement. STEM skills are in demand around the globe, and teachers, students and professionals are being challenged to deepen knowledge and keep on the cutting edge of scientific advances.

The Partnership for 21st Century Skills outlines recommended outcomes for core subjects and relevant interdisciplinary themes, e.g., Environmental Literacy. In K-12 classrooms, students engage in authentic learning online with real scientists and government groups like NOAA, NASA and, ironically, the EPA.

So while students and schools are ramping up science, government officials are dumbing it down. It doesn’t make sense.

Call for Alternative Energy

Today I searched on YouTube for a video clip I’d seen a couple years ago. Nye’s call to invest in wind and solar energy seems especially prescient right about now. Check it out:

Repower America: Bill Nye the Science Guy

YouTube

Voice of reason

Okay, so here’s the other reason we need Bill Nye: He’s a reasonable, even-tempered guy who’s trying to help us reach across the aisle here. In his words:

We all have a tendency to dismiss people who believe other things, who are outsiders, or who speak other languages. I constantly have to fight the urge to say, “You don’t know what you’re talking about! That’s crazy!”

My advice is just try to listen and see if you can figure out what it is that makes a person not want to believe in climate change, not want to accept that Venus is like Earth only a little different, not want to question things….So try asking instead of telling. Ask people, “What is it about science that you don’t like?”

Sounds like we could all read a page from his book. Click here to read more from his entertaining acceptance speech for the 2010 Humanist Award.

Closing thoughts…

“It is through science, and the discovery of scientific processes, that I came to be a skeptic and came to really embrace critical thinking. I came to embrace the idea that you probably only get one shot at life, so, roughly, don’t blow it.”

— Bill Nye the Science Guy
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