The Project AWARE foundation was looking to build an online community platform and engagement strategy to connect and empower the world’s largest diver, ocean conservation, and marine biodiversity organization with over 1.2 million divers, dive leaders, dive shops, and activists.
The foundation had embarked on a bold initiative to think about their organizational challenges and mission objectives from a strategic perspective, and approached Echo & Co. to help lead its online outreach. Over the initial months of our relationship, Echo & Co. worked closely with the AWARE Leadership Team to evaluate objectives from audience perspectives, examine an engagement approach that would lead to more effective and results-based activism for social and political change, and construct an online platform to mobilize community members and organize the movement.
Our first stage of work together resulted in a comprehensive Engagement Brief. Echo & Co. interviewed dozens of stakeholders, members of the immediate and extended Project AWARE community and the target audiences that the Foundation sought to activate for its initiatives and campaigns. Based upon their expressed needs and desires, we defined a synergistic approach to deepen the involvement of these audiences:divers, dive leaders, dive shop owners, and diving instructors. This approach was outlined in an Engagement Model, a framework that could be used by the organization to identify and measure the involvement of audiences with the Foundation. Using the Engagement Model, Project AWARE could clearly establish tactics that target audiences based not only on their type, class or user, but also upon how they relate to the organization, and in doing so, strengthen their commitment and enhance their responsiveness to the organization’s campaigns.
In our second stage of work, we extrapolated the Engagement Brief and its overarching strategy into specific web tactics for building a new online portal. We designed, developed, implemented, and launched a community hub for the entire movement so that divers could plan and coordinate events, grow their clubs, and leverage the broader space of ocean activists. The new website was built on the Drupal platform featuring complete integration with social networks and social media so that users could link their accounts to their involvement elsewhere on the web, offering a natural way for the Foundation to extend its online reach by leveraging the digital footprints of each individual member.
The Project AWARE website features a number of powerful tools that community members can use. The Action Zone offers a rich online map that displays all events and activities taking place, allowing users to navigate across all events in an intuitive geographic interface so that they can find what events are happening around their homes. My Ocean is a comprehensive user profile system with integrated personal blogs, video and image galleries, and friends system so that users can create their own personal online home for their efforts to protect the ocean planet. A fully customizable and extensible content management system allows the Foundation to centralize its online communications across a powerful platform that can syndicate its news and message across the entire web, while also building an online education and publications system for learning and development.