engagement, gamification, geolocation-based based mobile application, interactivity, louisiana state university, Manship School of Mass Communication, non-profits, public relations, service-learning, Service-Learning with SCVNGR, smartphones, social media, West Virginia University
Actually, I moved — to Louisiana. However, I am back this semester with another SCVNGR project thanks again to an amazing grant opportunity from SCVNGRU.
Last semester I wrapped up the SCVNGR at West Virginia University (Morgantown, WV) project. The students were split into groups focused on adding for-profit clients in the categories of: restaurants, bars, services, entertainment and retail. In the beginning each group had to sign up 10 clients for each category. A task that was seemingly simple — after all, the accounts were free, the students were going to create the promotions for the client, and they were going to get each client media coverage. However, we soon discovered that even though something is free (and we would do all the legwork) clients were hesitant to sign up. SCVNGR, as well as other geolocation-based mobile gaming applications, were such a “new” concept in Morgantown that clients didn’t want to sign up.
Also, it took students sooooooooo long to get clients on board (we eventually had to limit the project to five clients signed up for each category) that they had so little time to concentrate their efforts on getting them media coverage about the project/SCVNGR. The class was PR Writing and Applications, therefore more of the focus should have been on the media coverage aspect.
So, this semester I am at Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communication in Baton Rouge, LA with a different take on the project. Instead of multiple clients, each group of PR Writing students will approach ONE Baton Rouge non-profit and set up a TREK for that client. They will design multiple CHALLENGES (e.g., take a photo, list your favorite, answer a question, etc.) for smartphone owners to complete at that non-profit. Once they sign up their ONE CLIENT the groups get to spend the rest of the semester focusing on a “mini-campaign” to get that client media coverage.
It’s not unheard of for mobile gaming applications to be used by non-profits. SCVNGR has successfully been used by the following non-profits:
- SeaWorld used it for their Halloween Spooktacular.
- The National Archives used SCVNGR for a Civil War Challenge.
- The Boulder (Colorado) Museum of Contemporary Art used the application for community building and to get people interested in local businesses.
- The North Carolina State Fair used it for a “Deep Fried Scavenger Hunt.”
- The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis created multiple SCVNGR treks where families can compete.
The class is a bit overwhelmed at this point, but are starting to get excited about the possibilities this gives them. We are the only class in the U.S. that has been awarded this type of SCVNGR grant making them unique going into the workplace. They will already know how to set up mobile promotions, get audience engagement and promote a non-profit using a new type of digital technology. Employers should love this!