Special Olympics Pledge Drive Campaign Promotions Group

Public Relations Strategies Dr. Pamela Gray COMM 4800 April 17th, 2007 Cheryl Berarado Marisa Canella Stephanie Elder Philip Hector Amy Lynette

Introduction The Special Olympics Pledge Drive is a 10 hour TV broadcast which has local bands play original songs and, between the music sets, on-air personalities solicit donations and educate the viewers about the Special Olympics and special needs children. All pledges and donations go towards the funding of the Area 12 Special Olympics that allows special needs children from Montgomery, Stewart, and Ft. Campbell areas to compete athletically. The area 12 Special Olympics serves roughly 500 special needs participants.

Situation Analysis Austin Peay annually hosts the Special Olympics spring games and basketball games for free. April 2006, the Communication Department of Austin Peay planned and hosted the Special Olympics Pledge Drive and broadcasted the program on the APSU channel’s Cable 99 for free. The 2006 Pledge Drive raised $6,400 for Special Olympics. Because of the success of the last Special Olympics Pledge Drive, the Communications Department saw this year as an enormous opportunity to do even better, and try to make the drive an annual event. More bands were booked. The bands were scheduled to play in the Dunn Center, a much bigger space than last year’s broadcast from the production room of the Mass Communication Building. This year’s goal was $10,000 in donations, $3,600 more than last year’s amount. Publicity was so good from last year’s pledge drive, there was talk of simulcasting the event over the internet.

Organization Analysis The Pledge Drive of 2006 was organized mainly by a single faculty member, Ms. Caroline Sawyer, with direction from a senior faculty member, Dr. John Moseley, in less than four months. While only three students collaborated with Ms. Sawyer during the planning of the Pledge Drive, over a 100 student volunteers made the actual Pledge Drive event possible by operating the broadcast equipment, answering phones and taking pledges, being on-air hosts, setting up and shutting down the set, making documentaries about area 12 kids, and entertaining the special needs children at the event. The Pledge drive was regarded as an excellent opportunity for communications students to get real world experience. With this in mind, it was decided that Dr. Gray’s Public Relations Strategies class would help Ms. Sawyer in the planning of this event. Dr. Gray’s participating students were then divided into three groups: sponsorship, volunteerism, and promotion. The major internal impediment was the lack of communication between Ms. Sawyer and those students. Most of the external environment consisted of supporters because of the Special Olympics’ great reputation and high visibility. The Communication Department works extensively with two external groups: Bikers Who Care, who handled the media promotions, and the bands performing. The biggest external impediment was probably the indecisiveness of the bands to commit to the Pledge Drive.

Analysis of Key Publics The key publics of the charity event are hard to typify in the context of the four categories but it can be done. The current customers in the Pledge Drive campaign were the Special Olympics participants. The secondary customers were the participants’ families. The potential customers were special needs children who might participate in Special Olympics in the future. The producers were the public that the campaign was really recruiting and not the customers. The producers in this campaign were the volunteers, donators, sponsors, and hosts (APSU and the Comm. Department) that made either the Special Olympics or the Pledge drive itself possible by giving time, money, a trade, or supplies to the cause. Examples of the producers in this campaign were students and faculty, donors, Hooters, Bikers Who Care, the bands, and local sponsors. The enablers in the campaign were, again, mainly APSU faculty, and facilities. But the Area 12 Special Olympics organization regulated the campaign as did local media. But due to the positive reputation of Special Olympics, there were not that many limiter groups of the campaign. Most often, internal fiction, miscommunication, and the student groups themselves were the biggest limiters.

Goals and Objectives The goal of the Special Olympics Pledge Drive was simple: raise more awareness and support about special needs children and the Special Olympics through the Pledge Drive. The objectives of the Pledge Drive were also simple: 1) Have a much better event with more bands. 2) Gain significantly more press. 3) Raise $10,000 for Special Olympics. The goal and objectives of our student promotions group were more specific. Goal: To effectively promote the Special Olympics Pledge Drive in order to raise awareness about the Special Olympics, to encourage people to attend the event and to have individuals and businesses donate through ticket purchase or pledge. Objectives: I Promote awareness in the community through publications. Posters will be sent to businesses to be set on public display. Flyers will be distributed in high traffic areas. II Secure sponsorship with local businesses using “trade for mention.” III Networking with other organizations and non-profits through the Chamber of Commerce. IV Maintain good media relations for the local media through press releases and phone calls.

V Create documentaries and B-roll to play during the event to educate the public about special needs children and the Special Olympics. These films should also encourage people to donate or pledge. IV Work alongside the faculty and students assigned to this event doing any needed work (phone calls, physically setting up, talking to the bands, etc.). Action and Response strategies While there was no use of responsive strategies, actions strategies were used quite a bit in this campaign. The most obvious one is the Special Event. By having all of these bands perform, a special event has been created that can raise money and awareness about our client, Area 12 Special Olympic participants. Forming alliances is another actions strategy employed by the Communication Department in working with Bikers Who Care, who gave our campaign more credibility just by working with us. Our promotions group employed one action strategy specifically: sponsorships. Cheryl, while passing out promotional posters in local businesses, offered the businesses an opportunity to sponsor the Special Olympics. This technique is very useful because it not only helps raise more money and publicity but offers the business to align itself with a cause that has a great reputation.

Effective Communication Techniques There were elements of all ethos, logos, and pathos appeals throughout the campaign. For ethos, the very reputation of the Special Olympics and the good reputations of the organizations that worked on it (APSU, Bikers Who Care, etc.) was enough to give the Pledge Drive credibility. There was a logos appeal for businesses to do “trade-for-mention” deal or sponsorships with our promotions group. Because not only were businesses giving to a good cause, they were getting something of value for it: good publicity. But most compelling appeals and the most effective on the individual donors are the pathos appeals. Namely the virtue appeals and love appeals work best in this campaign. People who donate will feel the virtue appeal that their money is going to a good and worthwhile cause and the love appeal works because it is the compassion donors feel for the special needs children. Communication Tactics Obviously, the main goal of raising awareness and money for Special Olympics is communicated to the public by the Pledge Drive, a special fund-raising event. However to be more specific, our promotions group used publications like posters and flyers as stand-alone publications that communicated excitement and enthusiasm about the drive. E-mail was used by all in the group, but Stephanie particularly used e-mail to keep Ms. Sawyer and Dr. Gray’s class informed about Pledge Drive updates and progress.

Implementation Strategy Whether the whole Special Olympics Pledge Drive had a timeline and budget, I do not know. But I do know that the promotions group did not have either. While we did not need a budget because if every publication we needed was given to us using “tradefor-mention,” everything would have run a lot smoother if we had established a timeline. Our group, as well as other groups, would not have missed so many meetings nor would we have had such great misunderstandings with Ms. Sawyer, Special Olympics Area 12, and APSU regulation if a proper and strict timeline of meetings had been established

Evaluation While parts of the student run promotions group proved to be very successful (Cheryl posters and sponsors; Marissa’s documentaries, etc.) and others failed completely (Media Relations, Philip’s flyer, etc.). The successes of the group usually included open and constant dialogue with others involved. The failures sprang from the misunderstanding of second-hand knowledge, never communicated from the source. Therefore, any public relations campaign will be doomed to failure if good communication is not established.