Developing Youth Campaigns:
Our Process

YouthMuse starts with an organization’s deeply-engaged group of teenagers and creates campaigns that marry personal action with spreading the word. The organization empowers youth to set the agenda of a campaign, develop messages and personal actions, and assist with social-marketing tools. The teens take personal action in their lives, evangelize the message they have developed, and carry the campaign across their social networks to create authentic movements in the realms of environment and sustainability, social justice, or creativity and expression. 

The outcomes for youth are an opportunity to activate their social consciousness and demonstrate their leadership. For the organization, the results include extended relevance to society, recognition, funding and building a future constituency.


Youth-Driven and Museum-Based Model

YouthMuse has developed a youth-driven, museum-based model to engage and address the needs of two segments:

(1) teens who want to take action to positively impact the world and trust museums

(2) museums that already work with teens in learning-focused areas, but have little experience in social change.

YouthMuse (YM) partners with museums, zoos and aquariums that see the value of having a voice—beyond education—to make social change recommendations, and they understand that the audience primed to carry the message is youth.

We more deeply engage these students by empowering them to:

• shape a social change campaign agenda
• recommend personal action to friends and family
• take action themselves
• spread the messages across their social networks to engage hundreds of youth online and in person

YM provides a successful and replicable model to build museum competency to engage youth and their extended networks. Many of these organizations are already educating on issues ranging from bullying to healthy eating, from freedom of expression to the role of art in society, and from environmental action to endangered animals as pets—all of which make excellent campaign topics. The tactics the youth and museums choose to develop and use can include video, photography, music, storytelling, games, contests and more—all in conjunction with their chosen social networking sites and tools, such as Facebook and YouTube. The students are mentored to develop skills to speak and write confidently and persuasively, create videos, and use social media effectively. YM balances the content expertise of the museum with young peoples’ need to be co-creators and co-decision-makers. Involving students in decision-making and building their leadership and teamwork skills are all elements to creating a successful youth program (Institute for Museum and Library Services 2008).

VIDEO: YouthMuse executive director Deb Kerr describes the process at the Association of Zoos and Aquariums in 2010. 
Watch video >>


Youth Campaign Development:

Step 1: Set the stage
(2-3 days)

• Facilitate a workshop with targeted museum staff. Review the museum’s strategic plan and education goals, then set goals for a youth campaign, determine its fit with strategic plan/mission, examine potential campaign topics, and brainstorm measures of success for the museum.

• Conduct youth interviews and assess participation interest.

• Recruit student participants.

• Hold staff and youth working session to further brainstorm and determine issue(s) of interest, desired outcomes and measures.

Step 2: Create content 
(4-8 weeks)

• Catalyze student research on personal actions.

• With students: Brainstorm messages and tools for campaign.

• With staff: Create support structure to assist students with carrying messages knowledgeably and persuasively.

• Students, education staff, marketing staff and graphic design staff co-create messages and branding (if no internal graphic design capacity is available, we recruit from YM’s volunteer network or museum friends such as
universities, design community, etc.)

• Final approval on all content by museum. (Process TBD with museum staff.)

Step 3: Determine tactics
(4-8 weeks, can overlap with step 2)

• Look at potential tactics and their soft and hard costs: photography, videography, poetry, storytelling, music creation/use, and tools such as Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, etc.

• Determine measures and outcomes for tactics.

• Recruit mentors (designers, social media types). If videography is selected (highly likely), YM can recruit media mentor from Free Spirit Media, which mentors youth in video storytelling and production; other mentoring sources can also be explored. YM can coordinate with museum staff to provide other youth-oriented trainings on creating Facebook pages, writing a blog, writing techniques, storytelling, etc.

Step 4: Launch campaign
(4 weeks for initial work; campaign should last at least 9 months)

• Create tactical tools.

• Put measurement tools in place.

• Launch campaign.

• Create schedule for check-in, tweaks, re-tools, updates.

Step 5: Evaluation