Published November 17, 2015

When UB's GroW Home Team needed help with a crowdfunding campaign to fund their work on their ultra-efficient, solar-powered architectural masterpiece for the Department of Energy's Solar Decathalon, they turned to Dr. Lance Rintamaki, Associate Professor of Communication. Dr. Rintamaki, in turn, looked to the students in the COM department to determine how to get the message out, and the funding in. Together with COM students and the GRoW Home Team, Dr. Rintamaki conducted extensive research on crowdfunding and created an outreach message that helped the Team raise $45,000. 

The GRoW Home Team's dreams, however, were bigger than just fundraising. The GRoW Home competition, held in Irvine, California, featured not only contests judging the features of the house itself, but also a Communications Contest which evaluated teams on their communications strategy, electronic communications, public exhibit materials, public exhibit presentation, and audiovisual presentation (http://www.solardecathlon.gov/2015/competition-contests-communications.html). Dr. Rintamaki coordinated with Adjunct Instructor Debra Kolodczak to create a GRoW Home communication graphics class, in which undergraduated students created a PR Kit for the Team. In addition, Dr. Rintamaki worked with UB's chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America, who took over the UB GRoW Home social media campaign, interviewed students, and gathered fun facts about the house.

Altogether, this powerhouse communication team, under the direction of faculty advisor Martha Bohm, made new marketing materials, created signage for the house itself with informational design, developed a web page, developed video, and took lots of pictures. Undergraduate Communication student Stephanie Acquario was so inspired, says Rintamaki, that she spent a great deal of time at the house, even assisting with work on the house itself.

UB's GRoW Home entry took second place in the overall competition, and earned third place in the Communications Contest. While third out of fourteen teams is impressive in its own right, Dr. Rintamaki notes that the Communications Contest placement was particularly impressive because UB's grassroots team of exceptional students pitted their work against professional PR companies - and still came out on top.