It’s that time again. It’s the first time you get to see your favorite sports team. The excitement peaks as the stadium comes alive.
Imagine the thrills of experiencing this with your PRSSA Chapter. Taking your members to a sporting event has the potential to change the dynamic of your Chapter for the better. During the game, your Chapter can create unique memories that keep current members coming back and ignite interest in new members. Planning this type of an event is unexpected and could lead to a greater turnout than other social outing options.
Let the Planning Begin
When it comes to planning, this social activity might be easier for some compared to others. In the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, we either have to drive eight hours to Detroit or three hours to Green Bay, Wisconsin. Regardless of the distance, if you can plan a trip to National Conference, you can surely plan a trip to a nearby sporting event.
As an executive board, or as a whole Chapter, you first need to decide what sporting event you want to attend. Once you have decided, look at the team’s scheduled home games and choose a date. If you select the date as an executive board, I suggest picking out at least two or three possible dates and running them by your Chapter. After you finalize the date, call the sporting arena and see if they provide discounted group rates — I know that the Detroit Tigers do this.
Planes, Trains, Automobiles — and Sleep
Now comes the logistics of transportation and lodging. Some Chapters may be lucky enough to be within walking distance of a sporting arena. For those of us who are not so fortunate, there are a few questions that need to be answered. The first question is, “Are we going to have to stay overnight?” If you do have to stay overnight, see if any of your members are from that area and if you can have a Chapter slumber party at their house. If this won’t work, I suggest using Orbitz.com or Priceline.com for deals on lodging.
The next question is, “How are we getting there?” Carpooling seems to usually be the easiest option. Pile into as many cars as you need, provide gas money to the drivers and just go! If staying overnight, make sure to check with the hotel on parking fees. Other options include walking, taking a cab, bus or the local Metro. When taking a bus or any other form of public transportation other than cars, always call and ask for group discounts. It never hurts to try.
Make it More Than Just a Game
Alright, so you’ve made it. You have successfully planned all the lodging and transportation. Next comes the fun part — making the game more than just a game.
It’s up to you if you’d like to implement an idea during the game to foster better bonding. An example of one strategy for this would be to challenge your members to put down their phones after the first quarter, inning, half, etc. By this time in the sporting event, player introductions will be over and members will have had plenty of selfie photo opportunities. Public relations students tend to have an attachment to phones and social media, but this is a time for them to create personal bonds with other Chapter members.
Another way to make the game more interesting is to surprise members by having your group’s name displayed on the scoreboard. At Detroit Tigers’ games — like many others — they have a designated time that they acknowledge all the groups in attendance. Seeing the Chapter name on the scoreboard could garner Chapter pride and identity — or will at least solidify a talking point with those surrounding your seats.
PRSSA Chapters that think outside the box tend to be most successful. Fresh, exciting ideas attract members and can lead to Chapter growth and development. People are interested in joining because your Chapter is doing something that another organization on campus might not be. Remember that when you are planning your next outing.
What do you think is more valuable to your Chapter: a social outing that is strictly just a social event or a social outing that is public relations related?
Rachel Eckert is senior at Northern Michigan University. She is majoring in public relations and minoring in communication studies and dance. She serves as the vice president of Chapter and professional development in her PRSSA Chapter. On top of her involvement in PRSSA, Eckert also serves as a student supervisor in her internship with Northern Michigan University’s Athletics Marketing and Promotions office. Follow her on Twitter @RachEckert.