UCLA turns a limited budget into global attention for Internet anniversary

Communicators had less than 10 percent of the funding they asked for, but managed to get lots of eyes on a celebration event through Twitter, Facebook, and live video streams.

Imagine you have to come up with a plan to promote a huge celebration, specifically, the 40th anniversary of the Internet, which was basically invented at the institution where you work.

Now take the budget you were anticipating for that event and slash it by more than 90 percent. Then give yourself only two months to pull it off.

That’s what communicators at the University of California, Los Angeles faced in October 2009. They asked for $100,000 to buy ads and otherwise promote the anniversary, but got $1,500 for a conference celebrating the 40th anniversary and $7,000 for advertising.

“We were able to come up with a plan that was pretty impactful on some very limited dollars,” Sandy Shin, executive director of marketing and special events for UCLA, told a group at a Ragan Communications conference at Microsoft’s headquarters.

How’d they do it? “We basically leveraged every tactic and tool available to us,” she said. That included using Facebook, Twitter, live streaming video, YouTube videos and some creative promotions on UCLA’s website, Shin said.

Creative thinking

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