THON from a PR Perspective

By Emily Stangl, Communications Committee

THON. The world’s largest student-run philanthropy and Penn State’s biggest public relations campaign. The dance marathon we hold every year brings awareness and funds to childhood cancer, and is a great lesson in public relations. From canning to social media, students are utilizing public relations without even realizing it.

The three weekends of canning and asking for donations to help childhood cancer, helps reach the public quite effectively. On every street corner in Pennsylvania and the surrounding states, Penn State students can be seen decked out in blue and white, asking for donations. Catching people in their daily routines as they drive though intersections or stop for coffee, these students cause the public to think about a cause greater than themselves.

THON events are planned months in advance. An event as simple as “100 Days ‘til THON” is planned every year with matching t-shirts and a daylong celebration in the HUB. Other events such as Family Carnival and the FT5K, would not be possible without the event planning aspect of public relations.

Every event is publicized through THON’s social media. Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and blogs are examples of the social media used to communicate news about THON. Each account is updated constantly and are followed by thousands of Penn State students, families and alumni. Through these accounts, everyone around the world can be updated about THON via their favorite social media outlet.

Another great piece of PR technology is the THON website. On the site, there is a tab fully devoted to press. A press kit, news releases and press contacts are all available on the website. The creation of these materials makes writing a news article about THON and spreading the word, a piece of cake.

The information spread by public relations leads to the understanding of the cause and Penn State University’s involvement. Informing the public leads to donations and a positive impression of the university. Public relations is one of the key tools used by Penn State students in producing a successful THON every year, and it’s a great way for students like us to learn the PR skills we’ll need in our careers.

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