"It's definitely a traffic-driver, but it's become about giving back," said Karen Ehlers, VP of public affairs and communications for US Cellular.
Last year, US Cellular associates in the stores initiated the grassroots effort, and the company is continuing it this year, encouraging associates to spread word-of-mouth in schools and the communities. "Our frontline—those folks who talk to the customer—they are so committed to having a win from their markets," Ehlers said.
Launched on November 13, voting will run through January 15, 2010, and the winning schools will be announced soon after. The additional marketing and advertising are already showing results, Ehlers said, as voting is up from the same time frame last year. Media relations, both local outreach from US Cellular's 11 PR firms nationwide and national outreach from US Cellular's internal team, is also contributing.
"The media is a huge focus because it is the gift that keeps on giving," Ehlers said. "Journalists can write about the campaign from the beginning, and then it will be about the winning school in their neighborhood."
US Cellular also launched its official Facebook page along with "Calling All Communities," and the company has gained 9,000 fans so far, it said.