Public Relations students boost post-Hobo Day attendance

Frederic Cone

Frederic ConeNews Editor

Maybe it’s possible to better student awareness after all.

Although the final evaluation of the marketing campaign done by Associate Professor Matthew Cecil’s Public Relations Strategies class won’t be finished for a few more weeks, preliminary results indicate it was a success.

The SDSU football game on Nov. 20 had an attendance of 3,918 people and Cecil estimated about 600 students were in attendance. The closest game in relation to similar weather conditions was held on Nov. 8, 2008, and drew 3,276 fans, a game which Cecil attended.

“We don’t have student attendance numbers for that one, but I was there,” said Cecil. “If there were 100 students there, I’d be very surprised.”

This was the first time mass communications and journalism students have worked on a marketing campaign for the Athletic Department. Cecil chose the topic for the class campaign to try and increase the attendance numbers for a post-Hobo Day football game.

“Students had to figure out what sorts of attitudes and awareness issues might be contributing to that problem, develop some communication strategies that addresses and put a plan into action,” Cecil said. “From the students’ perspective this sort of event was perfect. It was a one-time event occurring near the end of the semester.”

The first 10 weeks of the semester were spent doing research and planning the campaign. Based on the results of the research and interviews, the students created a survey that was sent via email to 6,000 students.

“Through the survey results, they found that many students were unaware of basic information like the dates of games and the fact that because they pay activity fees, they have already purchased admission to the games. They also found that SDSU students are much more likely to attend a game if their friends are attending; if they know a student athlete and if there are giveaways,” Cecil said.

During the week of Nov. 15 to Nov. 20, students put their plan into action. Students first employed the use of signage around campus to raise awareness of the game, creating fliers and handouts to distribute.

They branded the game a “Fan Appreciation” event after testing out different themes in the survey they distributed to SDSU students. A “Golden Ticket” promotion was pitched to Aramark, SDSU’s dining service. The corporation agreed to help with the promotion by providing $200 in prizes. Finally, the students did dorm storming that involved speaking to students in person and inviting them to the game.

The class received tremendous support from the Athletic Department’s Senior Associate Athletic Director, Leon Costello and Assistant Athletic Director, Justin Swanson.

“It’s clear to me that the administration in athletics wants to work with students and other groups on campus in any way they can,” Cecil said. “We’re grateful to them for giving our students this opportunity. I hope they got some value in return as well. I know my students have learned a lot through this experience.”