Rolling out the Commencement ‘Red Carpet’


Commencement is a serious time, a serious ceremony. But it can and should also be fun and creative. Since the beginning of this year we’ve really ramped up our use of social media and multi-media to tell the university’s many stories. So it was natural that when we started planning for Commencement, the discussion about how to use these new tools quickly rose to the top of the agenda. Fortunately we have a pretty creative team, an administration that is open to new ideas and an event manager who has become our champion.

So when we decided to take our SDSU Live program (which to date has been a weekly 15 minute on-line interview) to Commencement’s back door, there was little to no resistance. The result was our own version of the Academy Awards red carpet show. We went live 15-20 minutes prior to each of the seven Commencement ceremonies, interviewing deans, speakers and soon-to-be graduates as they prepared to cross the stage and accept their diplomas.

But we didn’t stop at live streaming this broadcast. We were able to link in to the video board inside Cox Arena to broadcast live as families and friends were finding their seats. What a surprise it must have been to see and hear your son or daughter thank you on the jumbo tron on their big day! We also tied in to the television broadcast of the ceremonies, so our “show” was also televised.

We promoted each and every broadcast on Twitter and Facebook. And even encouraged attendees and viewers to Tweet about Commencement using #sdsugrad. Some of them tweeted about our broadcast – feedback we used on the fly to make it better:

@Hezaire: Wish that the host of sdsu live was less enthusiastic. Also she’s yelling into the mic. Ugh. #sdsugrad
SDSU encouraged Tweeting during Commencement ceremonies this year

SDSU encouraged Tweeting during Commencement ceremonies this year

But overall Tweeting was a hit: @lauriewrites: My sister’s graduation has a hashtag! Go ahead San Diego State! #sdsugrad

@brandonpalma @SDSU_NewsTeam thank you!!! Btw, I think that twitter poster up front is genius!!

I’m not certain, but I have to believe we are the first, (or certainly one of the first) universities in the country to create our own red carpet style show before commencement ceremonies.

Feedback? Well, we’ll be doing this again next year. And we’ll be looking for new ways to be even more creative. Your thoughts and ideas are welcome!

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Filed under Alumni, Events, New Media

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