HBCUs Don't Lack Big Ideas

A few weeks ago I had the opportunity to shadow the marketing department at Texas Southern University. By my second meeting with the staff, I could tell that every salaried staff member was doing the work of at least three full-time employees. Working 60 hours a week, easily.

An employee taking on more work is nothing new. It happens so often that it’s become a commonly used practice. In the past, I always assumed that a lack of marketing efforts was due to a lack of interest or a lack of creativity. I was dead wrong, at least in this instance. I realized that the lack of marketing efforts by the TSU marketing department wasn’t because everyone in the department or school for that matter was creatively bankrupt; it was because they lacked the personnel to carry out the ideas.

According to their website, Texas Southern University has a marketing department solely comprised of one person. Just across the street, The University of Houston employees five. A bit further down Interstate-10, The University of Texas has nine marketing staff members.

Of course, these numbers are purely based on the number of people the department has actually bothered to list on their website. So of course, there could be a few interns and part-time staff  running around the halls of each athletics department.

These numbers may mean nothing to most, but imagine if the responsibility of an entire department rest squarely on your shoulders. Now, imagine if you had four or eight extra pair of hands and eyes to get through your daily tasks and weekly struggles. Your stress level would certainly decrease and so might your hours.

So how do we fix this problem?

It starts with recruitment. Your marketing efforts are only as good as the people executing them. A well laid out marketing plan can always be ruined by half-assed execution.

The sports management program at TSU is a good place to start. Sports management majors obviously have an interest in working within the sports industry. The good ones will always find a way to shine. True me on this. When it comes to graphics and audio visual things, reach out to graphic design majors and  Radio-Television-Film (RTF) majors who can help create some stellar content. Spark interest by holding a contest to create an intro video for the basketball teams. Make it last the whole semester and reveal a “winner” at the opening home game next season. It can be done, I promise you.

At the end of the day, recruitment is going to have to start with the students on your campus. With limited funds, it’s basically all you have to work with. Nonetheless, the students will feel good about their involvement and the school may even get some major PR points. You may not have a budget to pay for more staff, but it’s about how you use the resources and people at your disposal.

You don’t have to be a millionaire to have a great marketing idea.

Jennifer ChangJennifer is a Public Relations major at the University of Texas at Austin. She has worked with several sports organizations in the Houston area, including The Astros, Rockets and the Houston Texans Grille.  To view more of Jennifer’s articles visit www.rookierundown.wordpress.com or connect with her on twitter, @jnchang.