Today we're going to walk through the four step process in public relations with an example that will better illustrate how we apply R-A-C-E, R-O-P, or R-P-I-E, or just the four steps of public relations. This is a case study from a research in campaigns class I taught many years ago. I like this example because it's fun, but also helps us see the management function of public relations. This is an overview of the process. I'll highlight some of our research and strategy along the way. I don't have a four reference slide for you today. Instead, I'm going to talk through some background and context for this case study. We're going to jump right in. In public relations, we have to consider what is the communication problem we are trying to solve. Sometimes clients will self-identify a problem, or maybe you are pitching new business and called upon to identify a problem. Whatever it is, it is important to have a clear understanding of the problem. You probably noticed that I have made a point to say, communication problem, and that's because we aren't in the business of accounting or production or engineering, we have to remember to stay in our own lane, and that's communication or public relations. We need to have a well-defined problem and a clear understanding of expectations. What the client thinks is the problem may not be the problem at all and that leads us to our example. The athletic director of the Metro State University came to me and said, "How can we fill the stadium on game days? The crowd is so few, it's really affecting my football players." Before we just jump in and think about how to increase attendance, it's important to consider some possible root causes for why the stadium is not filling up with students and alumni. This is the environmental scan that's so important to research. Even before we take on a client, we must fully prepare before the initial meeting. Research is the first step in the public relations process. In this case, after talking with the athletic director, we identified schools spirit as a potential reasons students do not attend football games, as well as low fandom for football. In this particular city, NBA basketball was the big dry, and in previous years, this Metro State University had made it to the NCAA Final Four. The culture of the city and even of the university was that we are a basketball school or a basketball town. This university narrative is one that repeated and believed becomes part of the brand's reputation. Offering a proof motion may fill the stadium one's twice, but remember, public relations is about the long game. Thus, it was important to drill down past the superficiality of the stadium attendance and ask why were students not attending? Why were local residents not attending? Here I want us to define brand value and brand equity. Brand value is the assigned value we give a brand. For me, I'm a regular at Starbucks. I often buy a grounded pike which is just regular coffee with cream and one sweet and low. This cost me roughly 250. Brand equity comes into play here. Does it cost 250 for Starbucks to brew my grounded pike? Absolutely not. Probably more like five cents. Then of course we can count the cost of the cup and lid and sleeve and human employees. But why then can Starbucks charge so much for a medium cup of to go coffee? Well, it's because we'll pay it. Brand equity is the social value of a brand. Loyal consumers have developed a relationship with the brand. Every time I visit Starbucks, no matter where I am, I expect the grounded pike to taste the same, I expect to feel warm in my hand. I enjoy the cup and the lid, the way the hot coffee tastes when I take my first sip. It's the service expectation, our experience with the brand, the quality we assign the product that make up the brand's value. Then back to our university football example. We want to find a way to increase the brand value of the football team. Find a way to create an emotional linkage with students and local alumni and offer benefits for engaging with the brand. We first began with research. We had to fully immerse ourselves into the situation. We conducted an environmental scan, monitoring of the internal and external environments. This includes gathering information about segments of the public, the reactions to the organization, and their opinions about issues important to the organization. We also conducted a situation analysis, which is everything a communication professional can learn about the problem at hand. What is the situation? A SWOT analysis identifies the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the organization. These tools provide context for the communication problem we are working to solve. The better we know the organization, the situation, maybe even the history, the better we can strategize on how to move forward. During the research step, we conduct both primary and secondary research and use different methods like interviews and focus groups, surveys. Primary research is very expensive to conduct and so we want to gather as much secondary research as possible to help support our decision making process. Here's a situation analysis. As I mentioned earlier, the culture of the University City was that of basketball, this is a basketball city. The residents lived and died by the local NBA team. There wasn't a lot of emphasis on football. The university's football team had a losing record in fact, perhaps a contributor to the empty stadium. But let me ask you, does a full stadium, a winning team make? Absolutely not. The Chicago Cubs could attest to that, but a winning team does help attract fans and create fandom. The university's athletic department was willing to funnel some money to the football program and share some of the attention away from basketball. The Athletic Department realized the potential of the football team, perhaps some of the new recruits and wanted to change the program and to do that, they recognized that stakeholders' support was necessary. Students needed to become fans or brand ambassadors. What happens when you like a team? You wear their clothes, you go to their events, you cheer for favorite players, you engage on social media and more. This is just part of brand-building. The goal of public relations for the sporting organization is to create brand ambassadors or fans. There is a lot of nearby competition in terms of football, within driving distance of the city and [inaudible] University, are three other large universities with bigger and better football programs. The students of this [inaudible] University were not residential students, most commuted to campus. Research shows that they have little attachment to their university, they don't tend to hang out on campus with friends or join student organizations. Instead, commuter students just come for the purpose of class. This presents challenges when you think of school spirit and creating a sense of attachment for this nontraditional population. I mentioned this before, that the stadium that this [inaudible] University football team played in is much, much larger than the entire student population undergraduate and graduate combined. However, much of the local city are alumni of the [inaudible] University, so they might be potential target audiences for communication. Lastly, the city was going through a renaissance at the time this was happening, much development and innovation was happening, but change can be painful and uncomfortable for some. Moving to the SWOT analysis, and that's the strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats of the organization in relation to the communication problem. Beginning with the strength, it says a lot that the Athletic Department is ready to think about the football program and invest in it. The space around the stadium is ideal for entertaining fans. The weaknesses include low game day attendance, little expression, school spirit or fandom. When you walk around campus, if you see students wearing the letters of other universities, that's not good. You want to see students representing the university they attend, cultivating that school spirit and fandom that will last long after graduation. Another weakness is the university's use of social media. They had too many accounts that spreads out attention. We want to make sure that the attention stays on the brand. There are several outstanding opportunities here too, this city is home to so many large corporations, and that presents an opportunity for sponsorships and partnerships. This type of public relations identifies new stakeholders in which to build relationships so as to help the university. Remember, public relations and brand communication should be about fulfilling this brand's mission and core values. We want to be strategic about our partnerships. We'd identify corporate sponsors who could help us solve the problem of an empty stadium. You see, a corporate sponsorship might be that a hospital in town is allowed signage in the stadium and maybe their brand attach to the halftime show or something prominent that attracts eyeballs. In exchange the university is able to leverage that brand and that builds credibility and authenticity. In a place where many remain, relationships are critical, that hospital might send 100 employees to the game, and that might begin some form of fandom. The other opportunity is that the community is comprised of alumni. Campus events could work to attract those stakeholders and get them re-engaged in the university brand. Finally, there are several threats that we should be aware of, including the lack of funding for football specifically, but also the competition from nearby schools. The local fan mentality is that the city is a basketball city and the university is a basketball school, which is detrimental to the men recruited to play football. This type of attitude clearly needs to be addressed by the communication plan. Now, when beginning to think more about research, let's quickly look at the different methods available to practitioners. Remember, primary research of any kind is expensive, thus we want to gather as much secondary research as possible. But once we've exhausted secondary research, you might need to design research studies for your client's specific communication problem. For instance, in our football case study, there's a lot of secondary research on commuters and non-traditional students and fandom and how school spirit relates. But that's not on any of the attitudes and behaviors of this specific university. Thus, it was important that we collect both primary and secondary research. No matter if we are talking about primary or secondary research, the type of research design is important to think about and be critical of questioning the validity of the findings. Qualitative methods are for exploring attitudes, perceptions, values, and opinions. These methods are for descriptive and interpretive data collection and include in-depth interviews, focus groups, and participant observation, for example. In contrast, quantitative methods observe effects and test the relationship between various variables. These methods produce numerical data and strive for generalizability. That means that the data is statistically significant and a sample or subset can be generalized to the entire population. These methods include: survey, content analysis, digital analytics, and others. In the football example, we conducted a survey that was generalizable. What that means is that we gathered email addresses from five percent of the student body and those students were enough to statistically represent the entire student body of 30,000 students. Think about a pot of soup. I stick the ladle in and pull out some of the soup. Is what's in the ladle different from the pot? No, that ladle can speak for the entire pot. That's generalizability. As part of the research step, we have to consider, who is our target audience? Who are we wanting to communicate with? In this case study, we identified incoming freshmen and opinion leaders among the traditional undergraduate students as primary audiences. These folks are impressionable as they come to a new campus and embrace college life. They are looking for guidance from sophomore, junior, and senior students already on campus. The opinion leaders on campus think students and student government or other organizations, Greek life, the active and engaged students on campus. These opinion leaders are part of the influential process of becoming a college student and what it means to being a college student on this university's campus. The secondary audience includes alumni, many who attend this university, graduate, and then stay local. It stands to reason that there are quite a few brand ambassadors all around just waiting to be activated. As some of you know, the university to student relationship is really just beginning upon graduation. The student is graduating into a field and will begin to make money. The university then will forever try to develop that relationship into one of giving. Thus, alumni are just as important to a university brand as the current undergraduate and graduate student body. Really more important because there are so many more of these alumni. We begin by scouring the academic and trade publications about urban campuses and non-traditional students compared to traditional college towns with residential students. Students experience college differently based on the geographics and demographics of their surrounding environment. Here are some secondary research insights that can inform the communication strategy. Commuter students and non-traditional students are less connected to campus than residential students. This makes sense. Students come only for classes, then they leave campus. They don't hang around to participate in clubs and organizations, nor do they invest in other student or faculty relationships. They don't tend to gather just to gather. Instead, the relationship with commuter and non-traditional students is like a transaction. In that students just want to go to class and get the information and get to the end goal, the degree. In comparison, traditional students, residential students are on campus for the experience and the opportunities being on campus brings. Thinking about this case study, these students are non-traditional and have little attachment or pride in their university. This has to be considered when we design our messaging strategy. Once we gathered all the secondary research we could, we then needed to move forward with research that would give us some insight as to how to solve our communication problem on this particular university's campus and subsequently, the athletics department true concern; how do we fill the empty stadium? Secondary research can only take us so far and then we have to move forward with primary research, design our own study to fill the gaps left by secondary research. In this case, we conducted in-depth interviews and focus groups with students, and we also conducted a university wide survey. Here are some of the primary research insights that were yielded. First students were very interested in the social aspect of football games. Most tailgated prior to the game, and in some instances all throughout the game. Tailgating was a large draw for students and was perceived as part of game day. The survey also yielded some interesting insights. First, the majority of university students do not regularly attend games, 62 percent, said they do not attend football games. A concerning percentage have never attended a university game, 47 percent of students have never been to a football game at this university campus. However, there was interest and this is encouraging for our campaign, 63 percent of students follow an account related to university sports. The athletic department at the time had an account for every sport, so there was no centralized messaging strategy. Another weakness, but also potential opportunity for branding efforts. Moving from research to the second step, action. Depending on what model or acronym we are using, it could be objectives or programming. But regardless, this is the second step. It's here we decide the messaging strategy. Writing objectives help to keep us on track and decide what it is that we want the communication to do or achieve. This is where strategy comes into public relations. The objectives here are focused on pride and engagement, raising awareness and education. Notice these objectives are not about filling in the stadium. Instead, we went to attack the root cause and try to elicit some change there. Remember, public relations as long-term planning, not stunts or communication for short-term goals. We want to push forward the mission of the brand. That's a long game, if we are successful with these objectives, the results should have an effect then on the attendance in the stadium. Remember, management function. Moving to the third phase, communication in the race model or programming in the ropes model or implementation in the RPI model. This phase is often thought to be the fun of public relations because this is the execution of strategy phase or where we put the tactics into action. In this case study, these are some of the tactics that were implemented. First, more hype around football games needed to happen. Pep rallies and pre-game concerts where scheduled. Since tailgating was already popular, it was important to capitalize on this and get more people involved. Remember, we can use word of mouth in our favor. We need to give people something to talk about and people in this particular city loved to talk about food. We invited alumni to participate in pre-game contests and events that got them engaged again with the brand. Then the athletic department website was updated and the social media accounts streamlined so as to amass, are following and leverage that word of mouth. Many people had difficulty in attending games due to all of the unknowns. Since the stadium is three miles from campus, where do you buy tickets, where do you park, et cetera. Creating an app to centralize information was important to game day, but also then using this app to leverage incentives and create benefits for attending football games. Lastly, this university was behind in endgame traditions like entertainment, but also fight songs and crowd engagement tactics. We want fans to have a memorable experience so they talk about it and become brand ambassadors. Lastly, evaluation is about showing value. What did our communication efforts achieve? Did we meet the objectives? If so, is the communication problems solved? This is what evaluation is about in public relations. In this particular case study, after this plan was enacted, this university actually won the national championship. Does that mean that public relations can make losing teams into winning teams? No. It was the talent of that football team that made the difference. However, the public relations absolutely contributed plane to a full stadium versus a half-full stadium changes how one plays and what one brings to the field. This university's football program has continued to meet vast improvements and now it's difficult to get a ticket to a football game. The brand value has increased and the stakeholders are proud to be associated with the brand. They are true brand ambassadors speaking positive affirmations about the university. This is ultimately the goal of public relations. I hope this case study demonstrated that different steps in public relations as the brand value increases for this university, the messaging strategy has to be re-evaluated. That's why the four steps shouldn't be thought of as linear, but rather a silicone process that never really ends. When PR is used as a management function, meaning strategically, not tactically, that's when it is the most effective.