LEXINGTON, KY: The University of Kentucky has hired Cornett Integrated Marketing Solutions to support its athletics division following a competitive RFP process.
The university sponsors 22 varsity sports that compete at the NCAA Division I level.
The one-year contract has four option years. The university historically spends about $500,000 per year for external communications support, according to Jason Schlafer, a senior associate athletic director.
Cornett has worked with the athletic division for 20 years. Bringing the firm back came down to it providing the most bang for the university's buck.
“When you combine the firm's ability to do the work, with its financial model, they were the best value for us,” Schlafer said. “[Cornett] made the most sense for us in these uncertain budget times.”
The firm's scope of work covers both earned and paid media support, as well as social media outreach. The goal of any campaign launched by Cornett will be to “remind ‘stock holders' of the importance of their support,” according to the RFP for the contract. Giving back can take place in the form of ticket buying, annual donations, or the purchase of apparel or other memorabilia.
In recent years, the firm has worked to increasingly use the voice of actual students and Wildcat fans in campaigns, and that will continue, said Kip Cornett, president of the eponymous firm.
He credits the longevity of the relationship, despite several changes in the university's administration, to the fact that the school trusts it will be able to achieve potent results. Cornett said that just years ago, interest in attending women's basketball “wasn't just dwindling, it was near death” with attendance of 500 people or fewer per game. It now averages 5,000 fans at games.
Earlier this year, the firm launched a campaign that reinvigorated sales of football tickets after they fell to their lowest point in 15 years.
“We continue to move the needle for them,” Cornett said.