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Fall 2009       publication for alumni and friends of the department of journalism       CSU, Chico

PR students assist with successful grand opening of new Wildcat Recreation Center

By Haley McHenry and Ashley Anderson

Photo of WREC sign

Activities sign at the Wildcat Recreation Center's grand opening

More than 20,000 students attended the opening of the Wildcat Recreation Center, Associated Students’ new, state-of-the-art facility. This gave ego boosts to “Public Relations Strategy” students who crafted the catchy name WREC FEST and the creative marketing behind the event.

WREC FEST entertained students and guests with demonstrations and giveaways. Center employees greeted attendees while sporting promotional T-shirts designed by the PR students.

“I knew WREC was going to be extremely popular among students,” said Kaylie Boden, a student in the class. “So I was eager to plan an event that people would actually attend and enjoy.”

The students’ ideas were printed in advertisements in The Orion and featured on the center’s Facebook and Twitter pages to promote the grand opening of the center in fall 2009.

“It was exciting just to be able to plan an opening for the gym, but to actually see our ideas in print was amazing,” said Rebecca Derenthal, a student in the class.

The students worked with Teresa Clements, director of membership and marketing at the center, to plan an opening event the student body would attend and enjoy.

“We tore the books apart,” she said. “We stole different ideas from everybody.”

The grand opening name, promotional designs and activities were all taken from students’ plan books, Clements said. WREC FEST was chosen as the name so that in the future it would be used as an annual event.

The design for the 1,000 promotional T-shirts, an idea generated by one of the teams, incorporated a strategy known as guerilla marketing.

“It targets consumers in an unexpected way, in unexpected places, and its goal is to create buzz,” Derenthal said.

The students spent hours putting together creative ways to make the event interactive and not just an ordinary grand opening with food and balloons.

Even though some ideas were used from the three teams’ plan books, Clements and her team did not use many other strategies.

A few teams felt that more ideas should have been implemented. One such idea was starter kits that would be rewarded to attendees of WREC FEST.

Basic starter kits would have included center T-shirts, towels, iTunes gift cards and information regarding the center. VIP starter kits, which would be raffled to students who signed up for WREC FEST early, included an iPod Shuffle, a free Adventure Outings trip and everything in the basic starter kit.

“It was a fun and innovative way to clump together prizes and have them mean something rather than just giving out random prizes,” said Megan Alley, a student in the class.

The PR students were discouraged by the lack of implementation of the teams’ ideas, Derenthal said. It was a difficult lesson to learn but a lesson that no teacher or textbook could have prepared them for.

The mandatory “Public Relations Strategy” course functions like any real-world relationship between client and business. Students met with the client on a regular basis to discuss ideas and budgets and presented their ideas to a panel of center employees at the end of the semester.

Clements, who sat on the panel, also graduated from the Chico State journalism program. She remembers taking a class similar to the strategy course offered now.

The course has become more sophisticated, Clements said. Students back then were lucky to even have access to Adobe PageMaker.

One big difference between the class and the real world was the fact that the PR students left for the summer not knowing what was going to happen with their beloved plans.

“I was very anxious to find out what exactly the grand opening would be like,” Boden said.

From the beginning of the course, students were excited to work with WREC. The gym was a hot topic among the Chico State student body, Chico State sports department and Chico for years, and a lot of people had lost hope after numerous plans were canceled.

But in the spring semester 2009, when an old warehouse was torn down to make room for the 130,000-square-foot gym, everyone knew Chico State would be adding a new component to the school, and the PR students got a rare opportunity to be apart of history.

“I feel so lucky to have been able to have been apart of this experience,” Boden said.

Visit the Wildcat Recreation Center

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1. In your opinion, which social media tool currently used by professionals in the communications industry will become obsolete first?


2. If you were a Chico State college student again for one day, what would you do?

Float down the Sacramento River
Hike in Bidwell Park
Embark on a bar crawl
Visit a favorite teacher
Take a tour of the campus
Spend time at The Orion
Spend time in TGC

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Produced By


Department Chair
Glen Bleske

Ashley Anderson
Jamie Kim
Haley McHenry
Tawnya Rojas

Megan Alley
Jennifer Lovelace
Marcia Miller

Ryan Horner
Brian Randle
Jasmine Roufchaie

Stephanie Brock