This article originally appeared in the Community College Daily and is part of a bimonthly series provided by the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations, an affiliated council of the American Association of Community Colleges.
Special events are a large part of what community colleges do. This often means competing for coverage and for donors.
To grab the attention of key media outlets and spread goodwill among key stakeholders, event planners need to focus more and more on taking an extreme approach – like imploding a building, putting the mayor on a huge bulldozer or going into space.
Oakland Community College (OCC) in Bloomfield Hills, Mich., added some “kaboom” to property acquired while also raising scholarship money. In 2014, OCC purchased a 340,000-square-foot building next to its Southfield campus. The 42-year old, 17-story building was in complete disrepair. The fastest and safest way to take it down was by imploding it.
Two weeks before the Dec. 14 implosion, Chancellor Timothy Meyer was offered the opportunity to push the lever to set off the explosives. He had a better idea: auction the opportunity as a way to raise funds for student scholarships and increase awareness of the OCC Foundation — not to mention gain some great publicity.
The event was promoted locally, but news about it spread like wildfire. It not only raised money for the foundation, but it created quite a stir regionally, nationally and even internationally.
Under the creative direction of Vice Chancellor Sharon Miller, the marketing team came up with the tagline “Give a Little Kaboom this Holiday Season,” and OCC designer Alejandro Herrera created an image of a holiday gift box with a lighted fuse.
With only two weeks to plan the event, time was of the essence. An eBay auction was held over a six-day period and the winning bidder was selected the day before the implosion.
Media outlets adopted the catchy “Kaboom!” phrase in its headlines and news stories. The winning bidder — who wished to remain anonymous — offered the lever-pushing opportunity to Andrea Wilson, an Oakland Police Academy recruit and OCC Foundation scholarship recipient.
The auction to implode the building raised $10,000 in scholarships and earned OCC coverage in more than 114 news outlets locally and around the world, including the Today Show and Good Morning America.
Approximately 60 unique videos of the implosion were uploaded to YouTube. More than 10,000 individuals clicked through implosion links immediately afterward, and OCC’s social media engagement increased nearly 230 percent. eBay featured the auction as one of its top draws to its 447,000 Twitter followers.
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