College launches statewide PR campaign

By Camille Furst and Kalli Colacino
News Editor and Production Manager

The two-letter word has been used countless times on hats, banners and in many advertisements promoting the inclusivity the College has been striving for throughout this past year. Now, the College’s “Hi” campaign has been promoted both on and off campus since the College officially launched its new public relations campaign earlier this month.

The program has been active since April 2, when Associate Vice President of Communications, Marketing and Brand Management Dave Muha released a campus-wide email explaining the details of the campaign and its efforts to engage students and spread the word of the College throughout the state.

Students participate in the social media contest (Instagram).

The new program consists of a month-long contest with prizes for current students, a distinct social media presence using the hashtag #TCNJsaysHi and different spins on the word “Hi,” such as “Hidrate” as displayed on new College water bottles, and various terms such as ‘Hi energy’ and ‘Hi potential,’ found in the viewbook given to incoming students.

After the program’s inception in 2016, Muha found it necessary to include input from students at the College by hiring student interns. They would offer a fresh perspective and be able to tap into the mindset of the program’s intended audience.

The student interns consist of junior communication studies major Kristen Frohlich, senior marketing major Collin Pecci, sophomore communication studies major Bryanna O’Keefe, junior marketing and communication studies double major Urja Sevak, senior business management major Kelly Kozar and junior biology major Teresa Dinh.

“By doing this, we wanted to show mostly how we are a friendly campus … by saying ‘Hi TCNJ’ you’ll be able to find lifelong friends, internship opportunities (and) take cool classes,” Frohlich said.

The interns said the main audience for the PR program is current students, and the goal is to promote a sense of community at the College rather than simply focus on academics.

“Dave has really been pushing us to show off the excellent community here at TCNJ,” Pecci said. “A lot of people know we are a high-quality school … (but) we want to kind of bring the community back together … to remind people what kind of community is at TCNJ.”

The interns also kept in mind the potential impact the program could have on incoming students. Currently, there are multiple Instagram posts with the official hashtag of the campaign, #TCNJsaysHi, posted by incoming freshmen who have committed to the College for the class of 2023.

“We were able to help provide the student perspective and how students would be able to engage with the ‘Hi’ campaign,” Frohlich said. “We were really able to kind of hone in on things that would pique the interest of students.”

The College’s official Instagram account has more than 10,000 followers and can reach a variety of current and future students. The interns used this platform to develop an interactive community engagement campaign –– an Instagram competition.

In his campus-wide email sent out on April 2, Muha shared the news of this month-long competition and the prizes that students could potentially win.

“This challenge will help us tell the story of our school,” he said in the email. “What makes this college special? It’s more than just the high quality of the education, it’s also the quality of our community. TCNJ is a place where people say ‘hi.’  We’re welcoming. We value and support one another.”

For this month’s competition, people must post a photo to their Instagram story with the caption #TCNJsaysHi. As long as the account is not private, they are entered to win College-themed merchandise, such as a hat or water bottle. Five winners are reposted daily on the College’s official account and different prizes are offered every week.

“One of the biggest goals was to engage the campus community and to highlight the people who have left a positive impact on the campus,” Sevak said.

Each intern also stressed how the recent tragedies at the College, including the deaths of students Jenna DiBenedetto and Charles “Charlie” Shulz, have impacted the strategies considered while producing the project.

“Unfortunately our campus has had a lot of tragedy this year — this PR program is not trying to hide away all of that,” Frohlich said. “I think it’s more to embrace the culture of TCNJ and what it means to be a TCNJ student. I have a lot of pride being here. I really like this school, and I think this contest is able to show that excitement that people have for being here.”

Pecci also said how he and the other student interns had taken the recent tragedies into account when brainstorming different ideas.

“In other schools, it’s not as tight-knit,” Pecci said in reference to the College’s response to tragedies. “There’s an emotional response rather than just a news headline. And I think this campaign is coming in at a good time, to remind people that this is more than just a school. It’s a group of people that come together from every background.”

But one of the greatest challenges for the student interns in getting the program on its feet has been the fact that “anything could happen,” according to Frohlich.

“We had to wait a while to launch this PR program, because one of the things that Dave said to us in the beginning — I’ll never forget this — ‘You never know when an unexpected situation will happen.’ (The death of DiBenedetto) happened just a couple days after,” Frohlich said.

The interns are spreading the word about the College’s inclusiveness, according to O’Keefe, and the idea that the student population is “friendly and open to get to know other people.”

Each intern mentioned the importance of the word “Hi” and how just two letters can make such a big impact in welcoming members into the College community.

Foster and former President Gitenstein say ‘Hi’ at Newark Airport (Instagram).

“We want to advertise our campus to neighboring states and even the country,” O’Keefe said. “We want more people to know about it.”

Currently, more than 60 posts on Instagram use the hashtag #TCNJsaysHi as of April 13, and electronic banners throughout the campus and in Newark Airport display the new campaign, as shown on the official Instagram account for the College.

According to the student interns, the PR program appears to be on the right track.

“I think people are starting to get more excited about TCNJ and what to post and to say to make them different from other students,” Frohlich said. “I think TCNJ students are trying to see what makes them stand out.”

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