The Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association's (CIAA) annual NCAA Division II conference basketball tournament has long been one of the most successful events in the black college sports world.
But in order to become a highlight of the African-American social world, as well, the CIAA partnered with French/West/ Vaughan to take a community-oriented approach to its PR program.
The CIAA was a regional tournament with an audience mostly older than 45, says David Gwyn, EVP at FWV. "We needed to bring life to the game, and make it more relevant," he says. That meant focusing on camaraderie and ethnic pride and heritage.
FWV helped the CIAA ramp up its social aspects with complimentary corporate-sponsored events, including a fashion show, live music, a job fair, beauty pageants, and talent contests. The firm focused outreach in three key communities, Gwyn says. A young professional effort centered on club promotions and speed-dating events, incorporating Web sites, radio giveaways, and an Ebony supplement. Campus efforts targeted students, faculty, and staff with a mobile-marketing tour "that generated excitement and merchandise sales," Gwyn says; proceeds from the latter went into a CIAA scholarship fund. And core fans ages 45 and up were reached via alumni association mailing lists and at homecoming events.
This year was the tournament's most successful ever, Gwyn says. In addition to becoming an important recruitment tool for the association's 11 colleges, he adds, in 2006, the event earned $2 million for the CIAA scholarship fund - and made a $15.4 million impact to its host city, Raleigh, NC.
FWV will continue working to make the CIAA Tournament a must-attend entertainment event.
PR team: Central Intercollegiate Athletic Association (Hampton, VA) and French/West/Vaughan (Raleigh, NC)Campaign: CIAA Basketball Tournament 2006
Duration: November 2005 to March 2006