When Carmel, Ind., residents open their June utility bills, they’ll see tips on how to use water more efficiently, reduce their carbon footprint and save on water costs.

Butler seniors in the “Public Communication Campaigns” spring capstone course helped conceive the “Water Wisely” message, which will also be spread through social media and various consumer education activities.

Students Ryan Clarke, Ejuanda Fields, Jacqui Giannini, Lauren Pedigo, Whitney Martin and Michele Nash developed plans and tools for Carmel Utilities to promote efficient water use, especially during the summer lawn care season. The utility wanted to encourage customers to save the green in both their lawns and their wallets, following the city’s recent increase in water rates for high usage.

The students presented their complete campaign to Sue Maki, Carmel Utilities’ manager of customer relations, on April 24. Giannini told Maki that the idea of promoting the campaign via social media came from focus groups the students helped conduct in Carmel. “We found in focus groups that people appreciate the utilities not spending tax dollars on excessive mailing,” Giannini said.

The key to using social media, Pedigo said, was “You can’t just be shouting your agenda [at a desired audience]. You have to provide people with what they want to know.”

Maki liked the team’s work, especially a calendar of suggested promotional activities and extensive research on water-use campaigns employed by other cities. The campaign for Carmel Utilities was “well laid out and presented,” she said. “You paid attention to the issues we had.”

Maki said she would recommend the plan to Carmel administrators.

“If city officials approve part or all of the plan, I’m going to be able to implement a lot more than if I had to develop the materials all by myself,” she said. She indicated that aspects of the campaign could be used in Carmel Utilities recycling and sewer programs as well.

Course instructor Ed Kanis said that Maki approached him about working with the class, after hearing about it at an Indianapolis Nonprofit Marketing and PR group meeting.

“She was also aware of the work the College of Communication’s journalism students are doing in Carmel,” Kanis said, referring to a “Multimedia Journalism” course, in which some students cover news beats in Carmel city government and community life.

“Having College of Communication students working with Carmel constituents — that’s the idea for this class. Our goal is to be a partner with community organizations and help them achieve their goals,” he said.

Two other student teams developed communication plans for local non-profit entities in the spring 2012 “Public Communication Campaigns” class. Students partnered with Indy Humane on the opening of a low/no cost neuter/spay/vaccination clinic in the Haughville neighborhood and with the Butler University football program, to promote game attendance.

Media contact: Mary Ellen Stephenson
(317) 940-6944
mestephe@butler.edu

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