Tuesday, 1 Oct 2002

NEW ORLEANS, La.

I spent most of yesterday publicizing for the Ecolympics, as today is the first of the month, the beginning of the competition. I have been planning this event since the summer, so much has already been done to publicize it.

When I arrived at school in August, I immediately went to work on spreading the word about the Ecolympics around campus. I contacted Housing and Residence Life for help in figuring out the best way to work with resident advisors. RAs live on every floor of every residence hall on campus and are responsible for planning events for the students on their floor. Since I cannot personally tell everyone on campus about the Ecolympics and the importance of saving energy, I have to rely on RAs as my closest connection to the student body.

The RAs are overseen by Area Resident Directors. (As you can see, the HRL hierarchy is quite complicated.) So I started out by meeting with the head honchos, the ARDs, to get their input on how to gain better outreach for the event through the RAs. Using their input, I was ready to tackle the individual residence hall weekly RA meetings.

My first three RA meetings were all on the same night, one right after the other, on Monday, Sept. 23. (Luckily, Hurricane Isidore didn’t hit until the next morning.) Though my first audience seemed unimpressed, the momentum of the later meetings made up for the lack of interest at the first one. When I speak in front of crowds, especially about an event this cool, I become more bubbly than nervous, because I’m excited about what I have to say. The second and third audiences picked up on my excitement and, by the end of the meeting, the RAs were very enthusiastic about winning the grand prize for their respective residence halls. I had two more of these meetings last night, and they went just as well as the previous two. The prize really pulls in interest and fires up people’s desire to win.

So what is the grand prize? Ice cream, of course. I crave ice cream, as do most people I know. So what better prize than an ice cream party with Jerry Greenfield himself — yes, the Jerry of Ben and Jerry’s! Thanks to a helpful Tulane Business School professor, I was able to get in touch with Jerry, who agreed to mingle with the winners at an awards ceremony, as well as to provide ice cream for the event. (The recent Ben and Jerry’s One Sweet Whirled ice cream flavor is actually part of a global warming campaign.) Ecolympics winners will also receive a brand new DVD player and new DVDs to go with it, compliments of a generous donation by the Tulane administration.

I will leave you now with great news that came quite unexpectedly today. As I sat in the campus student center at a booth decorated with an Ecolympics poster and flyers, two people approached, wanting to know more about the competition. This was the most interest I had generated from passers-by thus far, so I obligingly filled them in on the details. It turns out that they worked for Red Bull (the energy drink) and were looking for ways to promote the product on campus. This blew me away, because it was exactly the type of giveaway I was looking for to increase our publicity — something to really draw in the crowd, and preferably something with at least an abstract connection to saving energy or being “energy smart.” I was originally thinking of contacting the company that produces PowerAde, but thanks to this bit of serendipity, I agreed to work with Red Bull. They will provide free cases of the drink, and I will provide info on saving energy and on the Ecolympics. One more thing to check off on my long list of publicity stunts!

Next up: Get in touch with those people who have agreed to offer motivational prizes for the RAs who come up with the most creative approach to publicizing the Ecolympics and its energy-saving message for their residents. Oh, and I also have to schedule a tour with the metering man! Add two papers and three long classes to that schedule, and we’ll call it a day.