They may be a captive audience, but that doesn’t mean they’ll sit still for your message. That’s the challenge facing Scott Braswell, communications czar for University Housing, who carries the weighty responsibility of pushing out information to the 8,000-plus undergraduates who live in residence halls on campus.
His answer? Make it quick and make it stick.
“We’re a quick hit, sound bite culture,” he explains. “That’s how information gets communicated.”
Take Braswell’s latest campaign, a rock ‘em, sock ‘em effort to score a knockout victory over UNC-Chapel Hill in a sustainable building contest. The centerpiece of the PR effort is a stylish YouTube video featuring faux fisticuffs between boxers representing the competing residence halls: Tucker Hall at NC State and Morrison Hall at Carolina.
Braswell says it’s just the first in a series of short videos he plans to produce to get students excited about the competition and to remind them of the simple things they can do (like taking shorter showers) to help NC State come out on top.
Braswell worked with Kristin Marley, the residence director at Tucker Hall, to cast students in the roles of the boxers. He arranged to use a green screen in the Advanced Media Lab in the College of Design to shoot the live action scenes, then did the post-production on his laptop using digital editing software. He worked with David Dean in the Office of Sustainability and Bill Davis in the Office of Energy Management to plan the campaign.
Keeping it Light
“We’re trying to maintain a playful spirit,” he says. “And to stir up some competition.”
Braswell, a former travel writer, is completely self-taught. But he brings a fresh eye and a polished professionalism to his communications tactics, from posters on electronic bulletin boards to public service spots on radio to news briefs on Twitter, Facebook and On the Go. All of it is geared toward building a sense of community and keeping students informed of issues, news and events that affect them.
“It’s fun to do and I get a lot of support within our staff,” he says. “We really want to push it.”