How Santa delivered smiles to our readers and a bigger Facebook audience for us

How do we promote our Holiday Guide?

That was the question the Emerald Presents marketing team tried to answer on a fall Friday afternoon. The team’s job is to create events and promotions that increase readership and revenue. Our task on this day was to find a way to promote a special section full of how-to guides and more for students over the holidays.

We debated some ideas. None seemed right. Then someone said: “Pictures with Santa.”

Done.

We worked quickly on the details. Location? Props? Marketing? Who is Santa? We created a task list and assigned marketing intern Kyle Baker as the project leader.

By nearly every measure, Pictures with Santa was our most successful event yet and helped us live up to our motto: We make college better.

Here’s how it worked:

Logistics

- We invested about $200 in our own Santa suit, figuring we could re-use it for future events and editorial photo shoots. Rentals cost about $65 for a one-time use.

- We planned to use our standard photo booth set up that we built for our Revolution Launch Party and used again for our Election Watch Party.

- We reserved space in the student union next to the main lobby, a high-traffic area, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on Thursday, Nov. 29.

Pre-event marketing

- We ran a couple of print ads in the Emerald.

- We hung 11 x 17 posters around campus. Total cost: About $100 for printing.

- We created a Facebook event.

- We posted directly to our Facebook page and to our Twitter account.

How it worked

- Set up began at 8 a.m.

- We had at least six students staffing the event at all times.

- We had stacks of the Holiday Guide, candy canes and Emerald lanyards.

- Students who liked us on Facebook got a free picture with Santa. We set up two iPads for people to log-in, then like our page. Only a handful declined.

- We offered a collection of props: Ugly holiday sweaters, antlers and goofy holiday headgear.

- We posted each photo in an album on our Facebook page within two hours.

- We promoted a contest: The person in the photo with the most likes at a set time would win $100 to the campus bookstore.

The results

- Smiles from students, UO staff and our team.

- When we opened, we had people waiting for us dressed in holiday sweaters.

- 167 people got pictures taken.

- 194 Santa pictures posted to the Facebook album

- 125 new people liked our Facebook page within 24 hours. (Many others had already liked us.)

- Well over 250 likes on photos within the Facebook album.

- At least one person used his Santa picture as his new Facebook profile picture.

- The winning photo had 184 likes. The winner, freshman Kevin Rodriguez, told us that he and his friends pick up the print edition of the Emerald more often now that he knows what we’re all about.

What’s next

- More photo booth events. The photo booth created a buzz at all our fall term events, boosting our awareness among students and increasing our social media audience. Next up: a Super Bowl Watch Party.

The Emerald Presents team means business.