Students participating in a public relations class at an out-of-state university will “market” Abilene this spring as a test project.

Abilene Convention and Visitor’s Bureau Director Julie Roller told the CVB advisory board Tuesday that nine teams of students participating in the PR Campaigns class at Ball State University in Muncie, Ind., will develop materials to market Abilene. 

Roller said she had been contacted by a former professor who asked if Abilene would serve as a test case for the PR class.

Abilene participants will be able to use any materials or ideas students develop free of charge.

“It costs us nothing,” Roller said. “If we get something out of it we can use, that’s great; and if not, that’s fine too.”

Roller said she reached out to several stakeholders to see if they were interested in taking advantage of the opportunity. Besides the CVB and City of Abilene, the Great Plains Theatre, the Central Kansas Free Fair and Wild Bill Hickok Rodeo and the Dickinson County Heritage Center all expressed interest.

“If nothing else, I think it will be interesting to see how 19- to 21-year-olds from another state view Abilene, how they would market us and what designs they might come up with,” Roller said. “I think the outside perspective will be really valuable.

“I’m anxious to hear what they say,” she added.

Although the Indiana students will not be coming to Abilene, Roller said she is planning a video conference with them next week where she will share information about the community.

“We’ll gather up information, send them some brochures and pictures and see what they come up with,” she explained.

The students will do their own research, make phone calls and design things like billboards, brochures and “create best practice guides.” 

Roller also said she has been meeting with some of her former Kansas State University professors, exploring other opportunities for partnerships in the fields of journalism, public relations and tourism.

“I think this could be another opportunity to get more ‘boots on the ground’ and more people in our community,” Roller said, referring to the potential for college students’ involvement.

In the news

Roller said her main goal is to share information about Abilene so “businesses, attractions and events are at the forefront and said she plans to use free media opportunities whenever possible.

Several of the free opportunities to promote the town which have occurred during the past month include: Abilene being named a Top Ten True Western Town by “True West” magazine and interviews on radio and television, including stops outside the county, including an “In Focus” radio interview with the Manhattan Broadcasting Company.

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