The State of Michigan wants to transform its reputation as a ‘maker state’, shifting its association from the declining car manufacturing industry and towards new opportunities in the tech sector. It wants to attract investment from large and emerging IT companies.

To develop a compelling business case for tech leaders, the state and its economic development corporation sought to understand why people choose to work, live and play within its borders. They wanted to understand how current and former Michiganders view the state and how they feel about local opportunities. Most importantly, they wanted to understand the degree to which Michiganders would be interested in new, local tech jobs, if they became more readily available. Through this public engagement they also hoped to amass community-based stories and anecdotes to help tell a story of people’s experiences living across the state.

They sought a partner to design and execute a program to determine why people choose to live and work in the State of Michigan – and whether new jobs in the tech sector might draw them back.

State Theatre, Michigan

key opportunities

This project had some key challenges which needed to be addressed:

short turnaround time

The State wanted to design, launch, host and report back on the state-wide engagement within 14 days – a remarkably tight timeline.

diverse audiences

Michigan is home to many diverse audiences. We needed to design a marketing and engagement program that was inviting to people with different lived experiences.

high participation rates

We wanted to hear from a large sample of Michiganders – despite the fact we only had four days to do so. We set a lofty goal of engaging 2,000 folks within three days, which we surpassed. We heard from 3,837 people.

clear, quick reporting

Our scope of work included the delivery of a clear, succinct – and yet meaningful – final report. We analyzed all the project data, and designed and delivered our engagement report within four days.

our approach

This project required a fast, but robust, approach to both communication, engagement and reporting.


wide-scale communication and marketing program

Within five days, our team designed and executed a complete marketing program. We developed project key messages, a unique project sub-brand (‘look and feel’) and a targeted online advertising campaign. We focused largely on Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn. We also developed a stakeholder outreach program by partnering with colleges across Michigan, asking them to distribute materials to current students and alumni networks.

streamlined systems

With a tight timeframe, you need to strategize, mobilize and communicate quickly. From the beginning, we developed clear content production and approval processes and followed a strict schedule to keep communication on a steady and predictable cadence.

short but meaningful engagement

Our engagement program was designed to seek feedback from wide-spread Michiganders – both those living in the state and also those who had previously lived in Michigan. We designed an online engagement program (including survey question design) that ran via Civil Space over four days.

clear reporting

Given the tight turnaround for this project, we knew we needed to develop a clear, visually-based report. Our team collected Michanders’ feedback, and analyzed both qualitative and quantitative data. From there, we developed a clear, visual report that outlined our communication and outreach approach, the engagement methodology and the findings from the online engagement survey.

metrics that matter

We launched, executed and provided reporting on a state-wide engagement in only two weeks. While challenging, we achieved great results.


advertising reach


participants engaged


unique audiences reached


days – from start to finish

the results

Overall, this project was a big success. We were able to provide the client with a clear overview of what students and alumni think about living in Michigan, how residents feel about living within the state and gather community-based stories and anecdotes that ultimately told a story of people’s affection for living in Michigan and why. Our short communication program reached almost 250,000 Michiganders. Overall, we also heard from 3,837 participants as well.

Our final deliverables quipped our client with exactly what they needed to make important pitches to big tech companies, just days after our program wrapped. This engagement provided them with data and stories they intend to use in a variety of their business and economic development activities.

Michigan shop front