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5 Ways Penn State Students Killed the PR Game at THON 2017

By: Maggie MacDonald, Account Associate for Phospholutions


Image Credit: Michelle Bixby

THON is a 46 hour dance marathon during which participants cannot sit or sleep. Since 1973, THON has raised millions of dollars benefiting efforts to eradicate pediatric cancer. Perhaps one of THON’s most impressive feats is the fact that it is entirely student run. This year, our HVC team was particularly impressed with the efforts put forth by the public relations committee. This weekend had us at HVC proud to be Penn Stater’s, and proud to be amongst such a skilled group of aspiring PR professionals.

Here are five of the best PR moves made by our peers at THON 2017:

  1. Prominent position on social media

THON’s social media presence was tenacious across a trilogy of social media platforms throughout the entire 46 hours. The student volunteers actively posted to Twitter, Facebook and Instagram THON pages throughout the entire weekend. These posts were not only timely, they were high-quality. Expert-looking photos and creatively designed Canva’s flooded the feeds of each page.

  1. Consistent branding

Amongst the 15,261 students that constitute a full-capacity BJC, all were sporting various THON related apparel. Each item communicated the infamous “FTK” (For The Kids) slogan. This branding effort undoubtedly ignited curiosity within passer-byers upon seeing students as they buzzed around campus to and from the BJC. This brand awareness generated a greater interest in the surrounding population about the event.

  1. Live feed

The live feed, or 46 LIVE, was made available online to the entire world. This means that anyone could see the real-time events at any given moment throughout the weekend. The live feed was a PR success in that it took the event to a global scale, sparking conversations within a multitude of different audiences.

  1. News coverage

Whoever was in charge of media outreach for THON did a phenomenal job. It seemed as though almost every major local news outlet was present at THON, if not just for one hour to gather their own coverage. One thing’s for sure: the THON 2017 media clip book will be overflowing.

  1. Succinct messaging

“Ignite hope from within,” was the pinnacle of the THON 2017 messaging. And it was definitely not lost on the audience. The firefly accompanied this slogan and was present in as many facets as possible– on the mega screen, volunteers shirts and on the screen of the live feed. This messaging effortlessly reminded the audience of the exact reason Penn State students are so passionate about THON weekend: to inspire the kids to fight on in the face of pediatric cancer.
THON 2017 was a success in many ways, from raising $10,045,478.44 for the kids, to attracting national media attention, and securing a surprise performance by Joe Jonas & DNCE. We are proud of our fellow students for carrying on the inspiring tradition.  

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