case study

Telling the Story of America’s Servicewomen and the Memorial that Honors Them


The Challenge 

The words “veteran,” “hero” and “patriot” usually evoke images of men. Military women and their stories of service and sacrifice are often a footnote, if not forgotten. The Women In Military Service For America Memorial (Women’s Memorial) is on a mission to change that. Located at the gateway to Arlington National Cemetery, it is the only national memorial dedicated to honoring the three million women who have served in or with the US Armed Forces since the American Revolution. When people visit the Women’s Memorial, they are often overwhelmed with emotion as they read servicewomen’s stories and reflect on the tremendous sacrifice these brave patriots have made for the United States throughout history.  

While the Women’s Memorial helps to bridge the gap in the public’s understanding of women’s military service, many people, including servicewomen themselves, are not aware the Memorial exists. And many who would be loyal supporters of the Women’s Memorial—servicewomen, family and friends of servicewomen and Americans who support the military in general—live far from Washington, D.C., and don’t have the chance to visit in person. 

Our Approach 

Since 2018, Burness has been working with the Women’s Memorial team to raise their profile and cultivate a community of supporters across a variety of platforms. We serve as their strategic media and communications partner with our main objective to support fundraising and the registration of servicewomen in the Memorial’s Register. We’ve provided strategic communications and logistical support to help the small Memorial team with messaging, rebranding, organization and events. Our media strategy focuses on identifying opportunities for media outreach around key events at the Memorial, national or military holidays, or women’s issues in the news and sharing compelling stories of servicewomen and the role the Memorial plays in preserving them. We have introduced the Memorial to new audiences by offering the Memorial as a backdrop for events like CNBC’s Halftime Report Annual Veteran’s Day Broadcast

To rally an online community of support, we worked closely with the Memorial’s digital staffer to revamp their digital program by developing a content strategy and system that has helped her source and post better content more efficiently on social media. We developed an email program strategy to reactivate tens of thousands of people who had subscribed to their list but weren’t receiving any emails. We knew these people were potential volunteers, donors and ambassadors for the Women’s Memorial—they just hadn’t been activated yet. 

Results & Impact 

All of this work resulted in coverage in military, local and national outlets including The New York Times, The Washington Post, CBS This MorningPBS NewsHour and Fox News Sunday, as well as increased digital engagement, new and high-quality followers on social media and more funds raised online. With the new email program up and running and after making some tweaks to their website, we raised more than $150,000 online and activated hundreds of new donors. 

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