The stories came one after another. The media couldn’t get enough of the gallinipper. Report after report described a giant mosquito that was projected to proliferate in Florida over the summer. UF was the go-to source on most of the stories.
That got UF/IFAS (Institute of Food and Agricultural Sciences) and University Relations communicators thinking. If a single insect could bring that much attention to the expertise of what may be the largest university entomology department in the nation, there had to be more opportunities to tell the story of UF’s knowledge of bees, beetles, roaches and all things creepy and crawly.
And behold, Bug Week was born, a celebration of “The Good. The Bad. The Bugly.” In keeping with their “Solutions for Life” mission, UF/IFAS worked with UREL to conceive a public outreach campaign with advice on how to enjoy summer despite the multitude of bugs in the state. Bug Week kicked off the week before Memorial Day.
The results were astounding. UF Entomology garnered national broadcast attention, was featured in web stories, highlighted in public service announcements, achieved a burgeoning social media presence and became the star of an appealing new website created specifically for Bug Week.
The two teams not only created a successful campaign but a new model for partnerships across departments. UF/IFAS communicators have a heightened awareness of how to reach a broader audience. UREL enjoys greater a familiarity with UF Entomology’s work that continues to inform media pitches. In early July, a Jacksonville television station was scheduled to come to campus as a result of a UREL bug pitch, weeks after the official dates of Bug Week. That’s the mark of a strengthened professional relationship between UREL and UF/IFAS.
Ruth Borger, AVP Marketing, IFAS
Janine Sikes, Assistant Vice President, Media Relations & Public Affairs
Chris Moran, Director of Communications, University Relations
Steve Orlando, Senior Director, UF News Bureau
Ron Wayne, News Desk Editor, UF News Bureau
Jennifer Gillett-Kaufman, Associate Extension Scientist, IFAS
Tom Nordlie, Coordinator, Educational Media/Communications, IFAS
Mickie Anderson, Coordinator, Educational Media/Communications, IFAS
Robert Wells, Coordinator, Educational Media/Communications, IFAS
Jim Harrison, Creative Director, University Relations
Elecia Crumpton, Art Director, University Relations
Al Kirby, WordPress, University Relations
Paul Bernard, Copywriter, University Relations
Bruce Floyd, Social Media Specialist, University Relations
Robyn May, Senior Secretary, University Relations
Reed Erickson, Director of Multimedia Properties, College of Journalism & Communications
Emily O’Hearn, Senior Special Projects Producer, College of Journalism & Communications
Tracy Bryant, Coordinator of Creative Services, IFAS
Rob Annis, Coordinator, Broadcasting, IFAS
Michael Munroe, Coordinator, Educational Media/Communications, IFAS
Al Williamson, Coordinator, Educational Media/Communications, IFAS
Stacey Jones, Senior Art/Publications Production Specialist, IFAS
- In the wake of massive media interest in the University of Florida’s expertise on a large mosquito called the gallinipper, communications leaders identified an opportunity to capitalize on the UF Department of Entomology & Nematology’s national standing through a concerted media relations campaign. The goal was to increase public awareness of UF’s expertise in all things having to do insects.
- UREL and UF/IFAS brainstormed on story ideas, arranged a tour of the department, provided contact info for experts, contributed content for a specially constructed website and promoted UF Entomology through social media in advance of Bug Week. UREL provided the architecture for a Bug Week website, contributed new content to the site, crafted pitches, identified media targets and arranged interviews for responding reporters.
- The Multimedia Properties Division of the College of Journalism & Communications gathered existing video and produced new videos to highlight the collection of critters and great minds housed in the UF Department of Entomology & Nematology, while UF/IFAS produced its own promotional video.
- Social media specialists from both UF/IFAS and UREL engaged audiences with bug-of-the-day Tweets and a successful Facebook poll that elicited hundreds of responses about bugs.
- UREL’s Creative Services team designed a logo, created a slogan, produced the website, and produced radio spots to promote Bug Week.