Spring semester of junior year, I had the opportunity to take Case Studies in Public Relations. In this class, we looked at real-life PR plans and discussed what worked and what didn’t work. At the end of the semester, we had the opportunity to work alongside a local non-profit a create a public relations plan that would help them for the upcoming summer.
My group and I worked closely with The Boys and Girls Club of Newport, to help promote their summer camp called Camp Grosvenor. We pulled from Social Media Relations, Media Relations, Community Relations, and Internal Communications to create a PR plan that would give them maximum promotion before their upcoming camper registration deadline. The report and presentation can be seen below.
GO TO THE GROV
The Boys & Girls Club of Newport County has a children’s summer camp located in Saunderstown, Rhode Island. The summer camp, Camp Grosvenor, is opened from July 6 to August 28 and offers a wide range of activities for children between the ages of 5 and 14. The Boys & Girls Club mission, “To enable all young people, especially those who need us most, to reach their full potential as productive, caring, responsible citizens”, is an example of how the organization welcomes children from all backgrounds. However, the club fears that surrounding communities view The Boys & Girls Club as an association that is designed strictly for “needy” children. They hope to expand the camp’s market to a greater variety of children and ultimately increase the number of campers for the 2015 season. In addition, outside of the summer camp, the campgrounds are readily available to the public for a variety of uses. The organization aims to spread awareness of the ground’s potential and maximize off-season usage. Through the use of suggested media relations, social media strategies, community relations and internal communications, we hope to help The Boys & Girls Club achieve their set goal of having a minimum of 200 campers for the 2015 summer season and maximize the usage of the grounds outside of the summer camp.
Camp Grosvenor opened in 1956 in the small village of Saunderstown between North Kingstown and Narragansett. Spanning 95 acres, it is used as the Boys and Girls Club traditional day camp. The camp runs for four two weeklong sessions between July 6th and August 28th and is divided by age group. Each session has a different theme: the first session is “Party in the USA!” the second is “Adventure Weeks”, and the third is “Olympic Weeks”. The camp is open to children ages 5 to 14; the younger children’s tuition cost a little more due to the larger number of counselors needed to care for them. The list of activities ranges from high ropes, swimming, boating, camp skills, and summer learning programs including math and science programs. For the second and third sessions, field trips are offered to the Roger Williams Zoo and Fantasy Land. If campers cannot afford the field trips, the camp offers alternative activities at the camp that day. Camp sessions are $300 (ages 7-14) and $320 (ages 5-6). Extended hours are also offered and cost extra, as do field trips. Financial aid is offered the families who qualify, and a special 10% off discount is offered to children who have siblings attending the camp as well. The ultimate goal of the camp is to instill a sense of respect for others and for the environment, work together, and most importantly, to have fun!
The campaign’s goal is to have at least 200 campers sign up for the summer camp as well as make it known that the camp is available to rent in the offseason. Camp Grosvenor is American Camp Association (ACA) certified which makes it stand out from any other day camp in the area. Our target audience is mothers, children, and local schools. The Newport County Boys and Girls Club want to make sure that our audience knows that they are not just for troubled youth. They want to appeal to all youth through the themes of health, wellness, education, career, character, and leadership.
We divided our objectives into input and output objectives. Our impact objectives include making sure the messages of “all youth” and how the camp fosters a “fun, safe place, with positive relationships” is prominent throughout all of our programming. We also want to make sure that every program helps promote the camp for off-season use. Our output objective hits 3 main points. It is to retain campers, gain new campers and effectively spread the word that the camp is available to rent in the off-season.
Social Media Relations
Social media is one of today’s most effective and inexpensive forms of advertising. The Boys & Girls Club already has a Facebook and Twitter account. However, they should publicize their social media presence much more. This can be done by simply adding social media icons for the accounts that they have at the bottom of brochures, flyers and their website. This will notify viewers that the organization can be found on such sites and entice people to look up The Boys & Girls Club via social media.
In order to increase followers and spread awareness, the organization should follow all local families and have campers and counselors “friend”, “like”, “share” and “follow” the organization’s accounts. Also, the Newport County Boys & Girls Club should request the official Boys & Girls Club accounts to mention them in their posts in order to allow viewers to focus in on their local club.
The organization should stay up to date on their accounts, especially as they get closer to opening day. We suggest a “Count Down to Camp” campaign in which they will post images of the camp, #CountDownToCamp and #GoToGro, and other informative content each week. In the month of June, posts can become more frequent, possibly every other day, as it is the month before Camp Grosvenor opens. This will increase excitement and serve as a continuous reminder of what the camp offers when it will be opening, and how families can register their children.
While The Boys & Girls Club of Newport County already have their accounts on Facebook and Twitter, we believe that the club should expand to more social media platforms. As far as reaching out to mothers, which is their main audience, a Pinterest account seems highly necessary. Many moms utilize this site to look up ideas for crafts, cooking, and advice for both their personal and family lives. By making an account and “pinning” summer and camp related photos that link back to the camp’s website, Camp Grosvenor can reach out to their prime audience. In addition, we suggest that the camp make an account on SocialMoms Network. This site is specifically designed for mothers. Blog posts about the camp and its features, such as it being ACA certified, allow additional access to their niche audience.
Reaching out to children is also very important considering that they are the ones who will actually be attending the camp. Although mothers will essentially be making the final decision on how their children will spend their summer, we can’t overlook the importance of influencing and encouraging the children to #GoToGro. That being said, the organization should make an Instagram account since that seems to be the social media that the youth is most attracted to. On this account the camp will post pictures of the grounds, the different activities offered to campers, and possibly counselors training if there is any. The #CountDownToCamp and #GoToGro can also be utilized on this account.
These forms of social media that are aimed towards children not only encourage new campers to go to Camp Grosvenor but also create a sense of community for the children who already attend the camp. They’ll be excited to see if they or any of their friends were posted in pictures on the organization’s accounts. This could potentially lead to a more interactive atmosphere similar to how they would communicate with their friends through social media. Seeing familiar faces on these social media accounts will further help campers connect to Camp Grosvenor in more effective ways.
What we would like to do is do one statewide press release in two parts. Press releases are quick and cost-effective because we make the media come to us. The first aspect to mention is Camp Grosvenor’s American Camp Association accreditation to make the camp sound more credible. The first part of the press release would be focused solely on the camp program itself. We want the camp to sound more universal and emphasize that it is a camp for everyone, not just for those who are considered disadvantaged. Everyone is equal, and to show that idea, we would introduce a design for a new camp-wide t-shirt that all campers would receive upon their first day of camp. Counselor t-shirts will be separate so the children can identify who to go to should they need help. If the campers wear their shirts, they would look unified as a group and, will be considered kids, one no better than the other. We would also talk about the various field trips taken while attending the camp and the learning opportunities offered to show the diversity in the camp programming.
For Part 2, we would talk about the different ways people could use the facilities of the camp. We would speak about weddings, reunions, and mention the weekend passes (discussed in Community Relations). We would also make sure to get some pictures of every event that is occurring in our space so that the public can have a better picture of what it may look like. We would encourage the use of the facilities also with businesses and just about any mass gathering one could think of. We also think it would be a good idea to have a basic fee for renting out the facilities. Depending on the situation and the event, this could fluctuate of course.
We would send out news of this press release to the following media outlets: The Call (covers Providence County), Newport Daily News (covers Newport County), Kent County Daily Times (covers Kent County), The Providence Journal (covers all of Rhode Island), The Westerly Sun (covers Westerly County), WJAR Cranston (TV), and WPRI Providence (TV). How you (Newport County’s Boys and Girls Club) wish to write it is up to you; this is what we think should go into it.
The Newport community is a key player in making this campaign successful. Summer camps work two ways. Kids go to the camp but the adults are the ones who actually put the plans in place. We created two events that would appeal to each of these audiences.
The first event would be directed towards the kids. Most elementary and middle schools host some sort of field day during the spring. These field days often times need volunteers. We propose that the camp counselors, as well as Newport County Boys and Girls Club employees, volunteer at these field days. We would target all the elementary and middle schools on Aquidneck Island. The Boys and Girls Club volunteers could either volunteer in general at these field days or host there own event at them. This event would be low cost like an egg on a spoon race or water balloon fight. At the end of the day, the children would get two flyers, one directed towards the kids and one directed towards their parents. The one directed towards the kids would explain all of the fun things Camp Grosvenor does while the one directed towards the adults discusses the camp as well as the rental options. We’re hoping this event will give the kids a taste of how much fun Camp Grosvenor can be!
The second event would be targeting the adults, mainly the mothers. While every mother can use some alone time throughout the day it is still natural for mothers to get anxious when sending their children off to a day camp. Mothers want to see exactly where their children will be spending their time. What better way to do this than with a Camp and Cocktail event. Since the weather is finally getting warmer it is the perfect time to do an open house before the camp sessions start. This open house titled “Camping and Cocktails” will be hosted on a Friday evening around 6:30pm just in time to see the sunset over the lake. At the events mothers and fathers can sip on S’mores Martini’s as they tour the camp and see where their child will be sending their upcoming summer without any distractions. This is also a great opportunity to show the camp off for rent. While this would involve some spending to get ingredients for the cocktails we feel that it could have great outcomes.
Our last Community Relations’ piece is creating a weekend pass. This pass could be bought every weekend or you could buy a summer pass. This pass would allow you access to the camp after the summer camp ends, and during the weekend. The costs of both passes are up to Newport County’s Boys and Girl’s Club to decide because they do have to have lifeguards on duty while the camp is open. We feel this would maximize the use of the camp over the summer.
Social networking is a big part of our Internal Communications, particularly reaching out our various audiences. It has become the fastest way to reach out to all who are active on social media. We believe in adding more of a personal touch through social media.
As part of the Internal Communications program, we want to spread the word of upcoming events with our camp. We propose that the counselors provide excellent services with immediate responses, as well as sharing posts on Facebook. If a parent were to comment on a post, camp counselors would provide the information needed to answer whatever questions they may have. This allows the parents more interaction with the counselors. For the Twitter platform, camp counselors make a strong effort to favorite and retweet all of the mentions made towards the camp. We want to build up all of our social media platforms and we want to make sure everyone feels included and is informed of all and any events that the camp might be hosting.
To help build our Internal Communications more and to add a little bit of a fun, competitive edge, we would like to establish an Employee of the Month for the camp counselors. Whichever counselor reaches out to the most campers and refers them to our facility; will receive gift certificates to a local ice cream parlor and/or a local restaurant. Not only do we want the kids and their parents to enjoy themselves, but we want our staff to feel like they are enjoying themselves as well.
We believe that these tactics can help united Newport County’s Boys and Girls Club community together. The camp needs to be united internally in order for it to be the best camp possible. Giving the employees something to strive for will help unite the counselor environment. Adding a personal touch to Newport County’s Boys and Girls Club social media will also strengthen our Internal Communications.
How we would evaluate the success of each program would vary because there are different ways to measure each. Since we are releasing a statewide press release for our Media Relations we would look to see how many of the publications we reached out to actually published our press release or contacted us for more information/a potential feature piece. For the Social Media Relations, there would be multiple ways for us to evaluate our program. The best way for us to see the success would be looking at the number of impressions the social media sites have made. We would do this through a third party site like Socialmention.com. We could also monitor it daily by looking at how many retweets, likes and shares our posts get. Looking at the Community Relations programming we would look at how many people came to the “Camping and Cocktails” event as well as how many campers were referred to the field day programs. Finally, with our Internal Communications, we would send out a survey to our camp counselors at the end of the camp season to see how they liked the Employee of the Month idea as well as the interaction on social media.