The PR Strategy Behind Penn State’s THON

Have you heard more about Penn State’s THON this year compared to years past? This is most likely due to the fact that over $9.5 million was raised in support of the fight against pediatric cancer, which is truly inspirational. Another reason you may have been more aware of the event is due to the outstanding public relations strategies that were carried out by students to attract attention and awareness about the event and the cause.

As the largest student-run philanthropy in the world, THON already has a great reputation for its fundraising efforts. The event, which is a two-day, non-stop dance marathon, is planned and carried out solely by Penn State students. Committees and captains are set in place to oversee every aspect- from donor/alumni relations, to entertainment, and specifically public relations.

In a blog post written by Colleen Hanrahan, a student at Penn State, the different divisions of the public relations committee are explained:

Media Relations:
By contacting local, state, and national media through press releases, the media relations captains are able to keep the public up to date about THON and are able to inform people how they can get involved.

Street Teams:
This group uses guerilla marketing techniques when it comes to spreading the word about THON. Members promote events to the campus and surrounding communities through excitement and word of mouth.

Publication Management:
This group creates the “Diamond Guide,” a publication that explains all things THON. This is distributed to attendees, visitors, and participants to provide facts, pictures, and basic information about THON.

Alternative Media:
This group maintains THON’s social media, which includes Twitter, Facebook, and a newly created blog.

An organized PR effort is clearly needed to make THON a success. Raising $9.5 million for pediatric cancer and gaining a ton of national attention? I’d say they did a pretty good job.

This guest blog was written by PRowl Public Relations staff member Mackenzie Krott.

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