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Campus News

Bowl provides opportunities to communicate to national audiences

Millions of fans from around the country are expected to tune in when the Bulls take on San Diego State in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl. Photo: Paul Hokanson

By JOHN DELLACONTRADA

Published December 19, 2013

“We have an excellent opportunity to celebrate our athletic success while advancing UB’s reputation as one of the nation’s leading public research universities.”
Nancy Paton, vice president for communications

Working collaboratively, University Communications and UB Athletics have developed an integrated communications plan to maximize positive national exposure for UB before, during and after the university’s appearance in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl on Saturday.

The UB Bulls take the national stage in Boise against San Diego State at 5:30 p.m. EST in a nationally televised game on ESPN. Millions of football fans around the country are expected to tune in for the bowl games.

“The national exposure of a bowl game provides an opportunity to deepen relationships with those who already know UB,” says Nancy Paton, vice president for communications, “and we’ll also begin to develop new relationships with people who may be yet unfamiliar with this great university.”

The goal of UB’s communications plan is to generate greater awareness of UB’s excellence in academics and athletics, and underscore the football team’s successful season under Coach Jeff Quinn and Athletic Director Danny White.

"Our goal is to compete at a high level consistently, which helps provide the university with a powerful platform from which to tell all of the great stories happening at UB, much like our peer AAU institutions do," says White.

Adds Paton: “We have an excellent opportunity to celebrate our athletic success while advancing UB’s reputation as one of the nation’s leading public research universities."

Central to the communications effort is a strategy to engage with UB supporters and people new to the university by providing them with ways to interact with the university and each other as they celebrate the football team’s success and enjoy the bowl game. To accomplish this, an interactive "Boise Bound" website was created, linked directly off the UB homepage.

The website highlights aspects of nearly every facet of the bowl experience, with features about UB players and coaches, highlights of the year’s top plays and information about alumni “viewing parties” nationwide. 

A live Twitter feed is capturing and sharing alumni and student excitement leading up to and during the big game. Insights and exclusives from a UB Communications staff writer on the ground in Boise are posted to the site throughout the day. Photos from Bronco Stadium and from UB alumni worldwide watching the game on TV will be shared in real time, uniting UB fans in what amounts to a virtual rooting section. Links to UB and bowl apparel and ticketing info are provided.

“Working closely with Athletics and UB’s Alumni Office, we are leveraging the reach and accessibility of social media in creative ways to directly engage with alumni, students and fans,” Paton says. “We’re tapping into their excitement to generate widespread enthusiasm for UB and our football team.”

"The strategy is already working very well," notes White. "Our communications staff has been working hard to get video and other related content back home to Western New York media, and local media here in Boise have been sharing our stories with their audiences. We're excited to be working with University Communications to find creative ways to shine a national spotlight on UB."

Many UB alumni and students already are connecting through social media, sharing photos of themselves — index fingers positioned atop their heads like bull horns —with the enthusiastic “Horns Up!” meme. University Communications is sharing the photos on UB’s Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages.

“In higher education today, colleges and universities are expected to have an integrated approach to communications, utilizing multimedia and social media to reach multiple audiences,” Paton says.“It’s best practice.”

The university, Paton adds, is targeting traditional media for outreach, as well. A UB television commercial, emphasizing how the university’s faculty research and students are changing the world, will air during the ESPN broadcast. Similar messages highlighting UB’s research and academic excellence will be featured in the game program sold at the stadium.

After the game, the UB website will continue to be updated with new content. “And hopefully congratulatory messages will be shared around the world celebrating a great game and season,” Paton says.