By Josh Wingrove
Just look at what Ryerson can do when it sets its mind to something.
The Ryerson marketing machine kicked into full gear over reading week. The administration was excited about our men’s volleyball team’s top-seeded ranking in Ontario. The team earned a best of three final against Queen’s University, with the winner proceeding to the national championships.
The Rams lost, but they did so in front of dozens of Ryerson fans who came to the Queen’s-hosted game. Ryerson Sports and Recreation organized fan busses and got about 100 fans out to Kingston last Thursday night. Thanks to help from Linda Grayson, Ryerson’s Vice President Administration and Student Affairs, and Marion Creery, Director of Student Services, Sports and Rec was able to give away T-shirts, pizza and Coke products to Ryerson fans.
“It was a combination between Sports and Recreation, Dr. Grayson and Marion (Creery). It was a combined effort. It was kind of exciting. Too bad we didn’t win,” said Dave Dubois, Program Director of Sports and Recreation. The challenge came in letting students know about the free merchandise, admission and ride available to any Ryerson fan.
“We emailed everybody, and we created a slogan: If you wear blue and gold, you get in for free. It was reading week, it was hard to get everybody out,” Dubois said.
But they did all right. The cheering Ryerson fans made Queen’s University seem like home court for the Rams.
“I think we were louder than the Queen’s fans. It seemed like we really had more fans there,” said Elka Wilson, a third-year architecture student. “It’s free for students to go. And students love the word free… Even the people that just came out for the free pizza, they saw a really exciting game,” she said. It was an impressive effort from a school that often lacks skills to mobilize its commuter population.
“We are a commuter school. A lot of people don’t pay attention to sports at our school… I’m surprised they got as many people out as they did,” Wilson said.
Other marketing efforts, when finally put into motion, have experienced similar success. When History professor Arne Kislenko was nominated for TVO’s Best Lecturer Series — an award he went on to win — it was only after extensive media coverage that administration sent out an e-mail notifying students of Kislenko’s candidacy.
Once the school was behind him, Kislenko pulled out a win. Dubois said that the school is still learning how to market itself. No one at Ryerson, however, had expertise in such uncharted territory: a championship-calibre sports team.
“The difference is that now Sheldon Levy and Dr. Grayson have been really supportive… we’re on the website now. We’re getting exposure. The more you get, the more people will notice, the more people will come. But you’ve got to win. You’ve got to build a product that will win. And we will,” Dubois said.