24 hour marketing event helps local nonprofits generate business

Cameron Stuart, Associate News Editor

While most students spend their Saturdays on the Blue Ridge Parkway or watching TV, a group of 24 students spent their weekend of Oct. 26 and 27 collaborating to support local nonprofits — for 24 hours straight.

Riggs Partners, an advertising agency, founded CreateAthon, a nonprofit organization, in South Carolina in 1998.

“CreateAthon is a 24-hour communication marathon where we create materials pro bono for local nonprofits,” said Kara Smith, senior public relations major and public relations representative and nonprofit liaison for the event.

CreateAthon worked with the App State Child Development Center, the Blue Ridge Conservancy, Hub for Autism and Neurodiversity, and Girls on the Run.

Max Correa

“We are working to meet their basic needs as far as marketing that they might not otherwise be able to afford,” Smith said.

At the event, Smith said the needs of the nonprofits were presented to each team and they had the creative freedom to physically produce those needs, which could include social media content, logos or website updates.

Caroline Gorman, junior advertising major, worked with the Blue Ridge Conservancy at the event.

Gorman said her group made two campaigns: Giving Tuesday and a winter campaign, and renewed their email format.

The Blue Ridge Conservancy works to protect valuable natural resources by partnering with landowners and local communities, according to its website.

“I think it’s a win-win situation,” Gorman said. “The nonprofit gets a campaign or anything they need help with, and we get experience and portfolio material.”

Alexis Hartsell, junior advertising major, said she volunteered at CreateAthon because she wants to work with nonprofits in the future.

“(CreateAthon) promotes nonprofits that don’t receive the recognition they deserve,” Hartsell said. “I think it’s wonderful that we’re giving them this free marketing and advertising, especially for programs that are so beneficial.”

Hartsell said she worked on four campaigns for Girls on the Run.

The event was put on by Max Lichtfuss, senior public relations major and project manager through Second Story Media.

Second Story Media is the student-run communication agency on campus, open to students of any major who are open to “providing these creative materials to nonprofits,” Smith said.

As project manager, Lichtfuss said he was in charge of planning logistics, fundraising, donations, selecting nonprofits and soliciting to donors.

“I want to show students who are looking for an opportunity to take advantage of what they’ve learned and show off the skills they’ve acquired that they’re not really students anymore,” Lichtfuss said. “At this point in the game, if you’re a junior or a senior, you’re a young professional. I think it’s beneficial because students are getting a real confidence boost out of this.”

Lichtfuss said participants worked well together in teams and the event “ran smoothly.”

Next year, Lichtfuss said he hopes to begin planning the event sooner and include more engaging elements throughout the day.

“It really is a community-based initiative,” Lichtfuss said. “We’ve gotten so much help from the university, businesses around town, other donors who aren’t even involved in the school anymore.”