Our university loves to see students engaged in official UNCW planned events. Throughout the year, numerous events and activities are promoted on campus to motivate and involve students, with the hopes that everyone who participates will not only have fun, but also grow individually. UNCW clubs and organizations often turn to the community to help sponsor these events. These UNCW events actually offer strong potential benefits for local businesses by providing strategic opportunities for them promote themselves to target audiences. In addition they also convey an image that is supportive of the local community.
Two events in the COM department were partially funded by local businesses this year, and are great examples of how and why businesses might utilize UNCW events for exposure to key publics.
The first example is this year’s 2014 COM department “Avoid a Fashion Scandal” Dress for Success Fashion Show. This year, UNCW was lent clothing attire from Belk, Men’s Warehouse, and White House Black Market. At the fashion show, each business had the opportunity to showcase their brands to a target audience in a way that a traditional print or television advertisement might not. Not only is this slightly more memorable, but it offers the opportunity to reach a specific target audience for a much lower cost than alternative media-outlets. This sort of publicity is extremely beneficial for local businesses for a few reasons. Aside from the obvious benefit of lower-cost, their target audience on-campus at UNCW can be reached in a more personable way. Lastly, the business will be remembered as being socially responsible and supportive of the local university. Therefore, this forms a mutually beneficial relationship; the university gains sponsorship and funding for events while businesses have a new way to engage their brand with the UNCW community. Along with the support of the attire showcased in the fashion show, an additional 20 businesses around Wilmington sponsored the event with door prizes and therefore had their names associated with supporting the UNCW community.
Rock for a Cure is an annual breast cancer benefit event held by the COM department in October at the Reel Café in downtown Wilmington. The event has raised more than $27,000 to assist local women with mammography screenings and care bags who are undergoing cancer treatments. While this is a nonprofit event, there are many business opportunities that make this an attractive event for sponsors and donors. Last year over 20 sponsors contributed to Rock for a Cure, and despite the non-profit nature of the event, businesses walked away with unique exposure and recognition. This has become a proven tactic to reach on-campus students and staff at UNCW. By associating their brands with UNCW related events, and an event that is held for the benefit of the community, their businesses take on a personal and local image which is appreciated throughout the Wilmington community. Local businesses therefore differentiate themselves from competitors and effectively utilize their smaller budgets on socially beneficial events.
Public relations can be defined as the management of a relationship between an organization and its publics. Both Dress For Success and Rock For A Cure are great examples of how organizations are able to reach their key publics, with success, and also exhibit a socially responsible brand. Although local businesses have more budget constraints than larger corporations, their support throughout the community is acknowledged and appreciated. This offers a more intimate connection with the local community, which larger corporations struggle to communicate. Small and local businesses, which target audiences are the local community, should look at these examples as efficient ways to gain exposure while also conveying a positive image of their brand.
– Jami Rogers and Greg Rothman