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Redefining service through social media

As my group, entrtnU, really gets things started with our mission to bring SCVNGR to Morgantown, W.Va. through calling and meeting with local entertainment outlets, it is important to remember another partnership that bring the SCVNGR project to a whole new level: the International Town and Gown Association.

Although most people think of service in terms of the military or helping out at your local soup kitchen, our PR 324 class can also be considered a service-learning course. During our class we will meet service learning qualifications as defined by Bringle & Hatcher: we earn credit while participating in an organized service activity that meets identified community needs and through what we learn, we can reflect and have a deeper appreciation for the experience and have a heightened sense of civic responsibility.

So how does ITGA, an organization and acronym that includes the word ‘gown’, come into play?

The ITGA was developed in Clemson, S.C. and Clemson University in 2006. The primary goal of the organization is to improve the relations between universities and the communities in which they reside. Over 100 universities and their surrounding communities have partnered with the ITGS since 2006, with the hope of benefitting local communities and overcoming the negative qualities often associated with college towns and the students that reside in them. Right now, our project is even highlighted on the ITGA homepage!

The ITGA has already partnered with the Sunnyside Up project in Morgantown and the effects can be seen in the beautification efforts of the primary residential area for students that was once known for being rundown and dangerous.  New sidewalks, bus stops, branded dumpsters and campaigns to eliminate the infamous couch burnings have all contributed to the new positive image of the Sunnyside area.

The rising sun branding on dumpsters in Sunnyside have proven to be a subtle way to unify the Sunnyside community while beautifying the area and its image.

These efforts have clearly established a good relationship between Morgantown and the ITGA, but how can SCVNGR fit in? How can it help?

Students are an essential part of the economy in many towns, including Morgantown. By reaching out to students with one of their favorite things– social media– local businesses, students and the Morgantown community can all reap the benefits of SCVNGR.

This new technology will bring businesses, many of which are not familiar with the power of social media, advertising and mobile technology when reaching audiences, into the forefront of successful business.

Local businesses, including the already popular Black Bear Burritos on Spruce Street, can benefit from a free SCVNGR subscription.

The businesses that choose to take advantage of the limited-time free SCVNGR subscription offer will reach college students in a new way, gaining a larger and more loyal customer base that values the interaction associated with their business. More business for a business is always a good thing.

The customers, along with participating in a more engaging customer experience, will earn rewards in the form of discounts and free items, benefitting a vital part of the college student: the wallet. A student with a heavier wallet is a happy student.

This more involved and positive experience between college students and local businesses will benefit the relationship between the Morgantown community and college students as a whole. Students will still be contributing to Morgantown, but in a greater and more engaging way. Now, that’s a positive image.

SCVNGR will also connect businesses and communities through organized “treks” that bring consumers together to complete a string of challenges at many businesses in town to earn prizes, like a modern scavenger hunt. More connections foster a sense of unity and what’s that other word? Community.

As we begin meeting with potential clients, I couldn’t be more excited for the new partnerships between entrtnU, SCVNGR, and ITGA—all to better the Morgantown community.

Do you have any suggestions for our group? Can you think of any additional benefits from these partnerships? Let me know in the comments section.

Be sure to check out SCVNGR’s in Morgantown’s Facebook page and follow our project on Twitter!

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About EvStetter

Senior Public Relations & Spanish student at WestVirginia University working with SCVNGR during the fall 2011 semester | Excited to gain experience strategic communications! | Music, tennis, travel are passions on the side | SNL Hopeful | Conversation Specialist | Carpe Diem, ya'll |

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