Page 22 - FOXTALK Fall 2012

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Fall 2012
Student Achievements
Sports comm students ‘Pack the Prom’
NCAA initiative a win on the court and in the classroom
photos by Ryan Rivard
arist’s fifth season
participating in the NCAA
“Pack the House” challenge might have ended
its sellout streak, but it was a success for the
Marist women’s basketball team and Dr. Keith
Strudler’s sports public relations class.
“Pack the House” is a national initiative by the NCAA to in-
crease attendance for women’s basketball in Division I. To par-
ticipate, schools attempt to sell out a specific game on the sched-
ule. Winners are picked at the conference level, and one of these
conference winners is chosen as the overall national champion.
Last year, Marist won that honor, the first school from a non-
BCS conference to win the overall competition in its first four
years. Just as impressively, Marist was the only school in the
country to sell out its pack the house game four years in a row.
While the class came up a bit short of a sellout this year, the
game did still attract nearly 2,700 fans and served as a strong
learning experience for aspiring sports professionals.
“We were really an elite group,” said Strudler, who serves as di-
rector of the Marist College Center for Sports Communication,
“and are one of the only schools to take it seriously every year.”
Marist approaches the task of attracting an audience by giving
each “Pack the House” event a different theme. This year the
selected theme was “Pack the Prom,” complete with a halftime
prom queen and king. Strudler’s sports PR class helped to pro-
mote and run aspects of the campaign. The class focused on
reaching student fans, a typically difficult market to motivate to
attend campus sporting events.
Marist assistant athletic director Frank Lombardy believes
these sports communication students add a vital component to
this promotional effort.
“They know what students want way more than I might, and
that leads to a far more relevant marketing strategy,” Lombardy
The class promoted the event online, through social media sites
like Twitter, and on campus with prom-related events leading up
to the game.
“The best thing we did was create mini commercials on
YouTube,” said Strudler. Commercials used athletes and the
super hero “Super Pack the House Man” to stress a fun attitude
toward the evening’s event. This was the super hero’s second year
to make an appearance.
As well as utilizing a variety of different marketing techniques,
the sports PR class worked with the Marist Student Booster
Club to draw a larger audience.
“One of the things we stress is that you want to work with as
many publics as possible,” said Strudler.
While the McCann Arena was not filled to capacity, an im-
pressive 2,692 fans packed the stands and watched as the Marist
women’s basketball team beat Fairfield 60-54, earning them first
place in the MAAC conference standings.
“People went and had a good time, and we still achieved a lot of
publicity,” said Strudler. “Maybe the lesson is that just like in
sports, in sports PR and marketing, you can’t win every time.”