Hail Mary or PR Blitz?

By Dominique Resendes, Vice President of Member Services

Tom Brady coming to Salem State University has gotten the school attention, no question about it. The better question is: did this attention benefit or harm the image of SSU?

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Brady appearing at SSU put the school on countless news stations, a public relations dream. For the first time in my life, when I told people I went to SSU they associated it with something beside the Salem Witch Trials. They knew Salem State instead as the school that got Tom Brady.  These news appearances put Salem State back on the grid, reminding many people that we are a university and to potential students: We had Brady this year, who knows who we will get when you are here. In addition, the event brought people from all over the state to the university; a trip many would not make it if was not for Brady being there, allowing SSU to show off the new and improved Fitness Center.

The negative image associated with Brady coming to Salem State University mainly stems from students who currently attend the university. When students discovered that the university paid $170,000 to have Tom Brady as a part of the Salem State University speaker series many students felt as though that money could have been put to better use. As fees go up, including resident parking tickets escalating to $350 per decal, many students are beginning to resent the University’s celebrity speaker. Salem State claims no public funds were used to pay for this speaker, and instead were funds from the nonprofit Salem State University Foundation. However, it is hard to tell students graduating $20,000 deep in loans that $170,000, enough to pay off more than a few student loans, was used to get a football star to speak at a school that does not have a football team.

Was Brady coming to Salem State University good or bad PR? Well, it depends on which public perspective you are looking from. If you are looking from the perspective of those that do not currently attend Salem State, whether they are an incoming student or just an average citizen, then yes, it was great public relations. However, poor college students will have no problem throwing the fact that the university paid that much money for Tom Brady back in their face whenever they are denied anything based on financial reasons. The question boils down to: is it more important to bring in new students, or to keep the students you currently have happy? Leave your comments below to let us know how you feel.

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