In 2013, Sky set themselves the target of positively influencing the lives of one million young people by 2020.
At the time, they had a range of youth engagement initiatives that varied in scale and impact but their programmes lacked a coherent, guiding narrative.
A few years on and all of Sky’s youth engagement activity sits under the Sky Academy umbrella and all their programmes are focused on improving some or all of six key life skills. Initiatives that can’t do this, are stopped.
In many respects, Sky are well on their way to ‘Brilliant’, or what we described last week as a ‘3rd Generation’ youth engagement strategy.
What is Sky Academy?
Sky is Europe’s leading entertainment brand and one of their key corporate ambitions is to use this position of power to “reach beyond” their business and make a positive impact on society. It is important to their customers’ perception of the brand, important to the future of their business, and important to the future of the media and technology industry as a whole.
Sky Academy is the unifying platform that provides a single communicable purpose to all their youth engagement work – something that is pivotal to the development of a ‘3rd Generation’ strategy.
It is split in to five initiatives:
- Sky Sports Living for Sport – school sports projects supported by world-class athletes that help build confidence and practical skills
- Sky Academy Skills Studios – an interactive experience where children use state-of-the-art broadcast technology to create their own TV news report
- Sky Academy Careers Lab – 16-19 year olds take part in practical workplace challenges that give them an insight into jobs in media, technology and business
- Sky Academy Starting Out – one-to-three-year paid programmes for graduates and apprentices as well as work experience and placement opportunities, all designed to kick-start careers
- Sky Academy Scholarships – a scholarship programme of mentoring and financial support for up-and-coming talent in sport, the arts and TV
All the initiatives are designed to improve six key skills that are often cited by employers as lacking when young people start work – planning, resilience, communication, teamwork, creativity and confidence.
What makes Sky Academy ‘Brilliant’?
We’ve already highlighted a few ‘3rd Generation’ traits of Sky Academy, but to give you an idea of what ‘Brilliant’ looks like in more detail, we’ve delved deeper in to the five critical components of the strategy.
A singular, communicable purpose:
Sky Academy’s mission is to use “the power of TV, creativity and sport to help young people build practical skills and experience”. It applies to all their work with young people and guides future initiatives. It’s a more strategic, honed approach that is aligned with their corporate goals – making a positive impact on society, which they know their customers value, and protecting the long-term future of their business and industry by focusing on the six key skills shown above.
All their activity is now joined-up and focused, rather than a collection of stand-alone programmes with varying objectives.
Makes use of corporate strengths:
If you re-read the list of initiatives in the Sky Academy umbrella, you’ll see that each one plays to one or more of the brand’s strengths and specialisms; TV and media, technology, sport and creativity and the arts. The initiatives also bring together different departments within Sky, including Sky Sports, the Bigger Picture team (dedicated to creating a sustainable, durable business) and Sky Academy Starting Out, which helps them combine expertise and create the strongest possible programme for young people.
Relevance to all:
3rd Generation strategies need to be relevant to young people, the business, colleagues and customers:
- Young people – Sky Academy initiatives use well-known faces from their TV channels as well as world-class athletes to make them relevant to young people who look up to these public figures
- The Business – Sky Academy’s mission supports their corporate goals and helps develop the skills needed in their future workforce
- Colleagues – Sky Academy helps to build colleague pride by providing a platform for them to use their skills to directly impact the lives of young people
- Customers – consumers’ choices are increasingly motivated by a brand’s social contribution and purpose, and Sky Academy clearly shows the brand’s commitment to creating a positive impact on the communities their customers live in. Additionally, customers can easily see the link between the theme of the initiatives and what they associate with the brand
Measurement and tracking in place:
Over the last five years Sky have measured the impact of their programmes, initially by getting feedback and reports from teachers, and more recently by getting feedback from young people too. The measurement focuses on their six key skills, observing changes in students after taking part. All of Sky’s research and evaluation is independently assured by Deloitte LLP.
Impact across the business:
As we mentioned here, a 3rd Generation strategy makes an impact across four critical areas; social, brand, people and corporate.
- Social & Corporate – in 2014-15, 81% of students who participated in Sky Academy Skills Studios rated themselves higher in at least one key skill four to six months after taking part. Additionally, 90% of students who took part in Sky Academy Skills Studios or Sky Academy Careers Lab reported improved confidence in applying their skills. Teachers feedback also supports these figures; 79% or more of them reported an improvement in students taking part in Sky Sports Living for Sport in each of the six key skills areas
- Brand – Sky Academy gives the brand a platform to shout about their work with young people and the positive social impact they make. You will have seen some of these external, customer-facing campaigns on TV, radio and social media, fronted by famous athletes and Sky personalities
- People – Sky regularly seek feedback from their staff to ensure Sky Academy is having a positive impact on them as well as young people. In 2014-15, 80% of staff said they were proud to work for the business when they learn about Sky Academy. Additionally, 77% of employees that took part in Sky Sports Living for Sport said they developed their teamwork, confidence and communication skills and 90% said volunteering had resulted in a positive change in their motivation
As you can see, Sky have created a market-leading youth-engagement programme with clear evidence of impact across multiple areas of the business.