“There is no school spirit.”
“We do not have enough traditions.”
“I do not know how to show off my NYIT pride.”
“I wish more people knew about the great things we do on campus.”
These quotes are just a sampling of the feedback I kept hearing as I approached my fourth year as a professional staff member at New York Institute of Technology. Staff and students have tried many times to battle these concerns by holding various on-campus events. Although event and program engagement did increase, our on-going NYIT pride and story telling was not part of the culture and we knew we needed to fix it.
I decided to use my “innovation hour”, implemented by our (Vice President of Student Affairs, Dr. Patrick Love) to address this consistent concern at NYIT. I realized that we were making the situation more complicated than it had to be. The community was looking for something simple, easy, and accessible. I decided to pitch the “This Is My Thursday Shirt” blue shirt campaign.
We ordered 250 blue shirts with white lettering across the front. We then distributed the shirts to our staff and asked each person to wear their shirt every Thursday. We didn’t stop there though, as we then asked all the staff to upload a photo of them wearing their shirt to social media and use the hashtags #nyitdidthat and #bluethursday. From here, our school pride social media campaign was born, and the best part is that now students are also wearing blue on Thursdays!
Ever since launching our social media campaign in the summer of 2013, some of the common questions I field from fellow Student Affairs Professionals are:
1) How did/do you promote “Blue Thursdays” to students, staff, and faculty?
Each week we announce on social media that we are giving away FREE SHIRTS in the Campus Life office. The community response is positive and members who have never been to our office seem to always show up. When they pick up their shirts, we take their picture in the blue shirt, and then share it on social media with their permission.
We introduce the “Blue Thursday” concept at every student orientation and give out a free blue shirt. We ask students to use the hashtags #bluethursday #blueselfie or #nyitdidthat to promote the campaign.
Offices and student organizations also run campaigns on Thursdays to give out gift cards or social media “shout outs” to the best school pride picture of the week.
2) Any particular success stories or strategies? Any strategies you would not recommend?
Don’t force or mandate the implementation. It’s better to have a campaign like this develop organically. We started out with the Student Affairs staff modeling the Blue Thursdays in the Summer, which created buzz for Fall when the students returned to campus.
Make sure that your campaign is simple and accessible to all campus community members, on and off campus.
Keep your campaign consistent, don’t use too many hashtags. We use #nyitdidthat for all NYIT social media stories that we’d like to share.
3) To what extent do students, staff, and faculty actively participate?
Admissions, Enrollment Services, Center, Academic Affairs, and Student Affairs participate regularly. Blue Thursday is now a part of the NYIT culture. We wear blue on Thursdays and we tell our story every day through #nyitdidthat. The hashtag has been officially adopted and implemented by NYIT’s Communication and Marketing office.
Three years later and not only has NYIT created a campaign for the campus community, but the campaign has been implemented on our global campuses in China, Canada, and Abu Dhabi. We’ve also had national speakers, associations, and other universities mention our campaign and use our hashtag to share our story. As of this post writing, we currently have just over 15,000 mentions of the #nyitdidthat hashtag. It’s safe to say our innovation hour has turned in to a long term campus tradition, school pride campaign, and national brand.