Opinion: CNCC’s marketing campaign includes concert promotion

When John Boyd arrived as president of Colorado Northwestern Community College in March 2006, the school’s enrollment numbers were declining.
“The year we got here, they were experiencing a 25 percent decline in FTEs (full-time equivalents),” Boyd said. “So we needed to turn that around.”
And, boy, have they.
CNCC, over the past three years, has experienced steady growth.
“We’ve been growing a little over 6 percent for the last three years,” Boyd said. “Last year, it was 6.8 percent. So our marketing and recruiting and our programs have been working.”
For the recently completed school year, CNCC’s enrollment was about 870 full-time students. One FTE equals 30 credit hours.
“That equates to about 2,600 students all together,” Boyd said. “That includes high school students taking classes, senior citizens, everything. The bulk of the students are in Rangely and Craig and Meeker. That’s our service area.”
As a small college in a remote part of the state, student recruiting is always a challenge.
“We have to go out and get them,” Boyd said. “We appeal to the student who doesn’t want to get lost in the crowd. We don’t have to appeal to everybody, but we have to appeal to the right ones, and enough of them.”
With that in mind, CNCC is trying a new marketing and recruiting tactic. The college is a major sponsor for the Country Jam and Rock Jam music festivals in Grand Junction. Country Jam will be held this week, starting today and running through Sunday. The main headliner is Keith Urban.
Rock Jam will be Aug. 27 and 28, with Heart and Alice Cooper being the headline acts.
“For the money, it was the best exposure and the best marketing opportunity,” said Denise Wade, who is the public information officer/marketing coordinator/media designer for CNCC in Rangely. “What we’re looking at is more public awareness. There are even people in Grand Junction who say they’ve never heard of us, that they didn’t even know we had a college up here. That’s what the marketing aspect is … we have to get our name out there and pique their interest enough to contact us.”
Locally, Wade said the newspaper continues to be the best marketing tool for the college. But outside of the local market, she said she has to rely more on the Internet and non-traditional marketing methods, like being a sponsor for Country Jam and Rock Jam.
“People will read local papers,” she said. “But for other areas of the state, I have to think of other ways to make people aware of us.”
CNCC will have a presence throughout Country Jam and Rock Jam.
“We have a 20-by-20 tent, where we’re going to have all kinds of fun things,” Wade said. “Our flight department is taking down a flight simulator. Some of the nursing students will be there to do blood-pressure checks. Our massage therapist (from the Craig campus) will bring her massage chair. Our aviation maintenance technology department will have an engine where you can turn the propeller and watch how the inside of it works. That’s always a big draw when we go to air shows. We’ll give away prizes. We’ll have something for everybody.”
Saturday at Country Jam will be CNCC’s big day.
“It will be Colorado Northwestern Day, all day long,” Wade said. “They will mention us even more that day, and that’s one of the biggest days.
“We are the only college involved, so they’ve (the promoters of Country Jam and Rock Jam) been extra excited to work with us,” Wade added.
The Country Jam/Rock Jam sponsorship is a way for CNCC to try to reach prospective students, as well as their parents.
“Yeah, it’s a big, rowdy party a lot of the time, but kids are going to see that (CNCC’s sponsorship) and think we’re cool, and so are their parents,” Wade said. “A lot of the baby boomers have kids and grandkids that are the right age. In marketing, you try to appeal to a mix of audiences, especially students and parents. That’s who we are selling to.
“This is the first time we’ve tried this,” Wade said of the concert sponsorship. “But we believe this is our market. It’s Western Slope. It’s rural. It’s a good marketing spot, we believe. We’ll find out.”
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Reed Kelley was all set to run for county commissioner on the Democratic ticket. In fact, he filed with the state.
But Kelley, a rancher and political activist, had to withdraw for undisclosed health reasons.
“I did file, but I had to withdraw. For health reasons, I didn’t think I should pursue it. I wish I could honor that (filing as a candidate). With our Democratic Vacancy Committee, we wanted to try to fill that slot if we could. But I didn’t think it was the best thing for me to do. I will have to withdraw. We were hoping to do an announcement last week, but with my concerns we, obviously, didn’t.”
Kelley filed on June 3, but withdrew June 18.
There are three Republican candidates — Shawn Bolton, Wendy Gutierrez and Pat Hughes — running for the seat on the Rio Blanco County Board of Commissioners now held by Joe Collins, who is retiring.
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Molly Theos was thrilled to learn Dave and Enid Steffen will be the grand marshals for the 2010 Range Call parade.
Theos nominated the Steffens for a 9Who Care Award, which was presented by Channel 9 News.
“I think it is wonderful. They are such kind people. I am happy they are getting the recognition they are very deserving of,” Theos said.
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While the fate of the old Meeker Elementary School is undetermined, the future of the modular classrooms, which were added to the site in 2009, is also uncertain.
Mary Strang, president of the Meeker School Board, said, “We’ve had interest in the two modulars from out of town and hope to have some good news by week’s end that they’ve been sold. Nothing is definite, however, and we’ll have to wait and see.”
The town had been leasing the property to the school district, but with the school being vacated, the property will revert back to the town.
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As far as the Meeker School Board’s talks with Superintendent Doug Pfau, Strang said, “There’s nothing new to report and negotiations continue.” The board is negotiating to terminate Pfau’s contract after one year.
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Meeker’s Tea Party group recently voted to make an endorsement for the 3rd congressional seat, currently held by Democrat John Salazar.
“The Tea Party voted on which congressional candidate to back at our meeting (June 17) and it came up unanimous in favor of Bob McConnell,” said Sam Thiessen, president of the group. “We’re very happy we have such a strong candidate here in the 3rd District, and we’re hopeful that Mr. McConnell will be our next congressman come November. We also look forward to doing what we can for his campaign and plan on having a booth downtown during the Fourth of July to help spread our message and promote like-minded candidates.”
McConnell is a conservative Republican candidate.
“He is really humbled and thrilled by the people who have powered this campaign,” said Phyllis Coletta, communications contact for the McConnell campaign. “As you might know, Bob has never been a part of the party ‘machine’ and we’ve achieved this tremendous momentum with a real grassroots effort.”
As far as other endorsements by the Meeker Tea Party, Thiessen said, “We’re hoping to get Dan Maes in person before we vote on the governor’s race. He has tried to come a few times, but we can’t seem to get our schedules coordinated. We haven’t talked much about the Buck/Norton race for Senate, but Ken Buck is certainly a favorite among the Tea Party. I would like to see endorsements in both those races, but we haven’t come to any hard conclusions on either. Hopefully we can work through those early in July.
“We don’t have any plans right now to endorse local candidates,” Thiessen added. “There are a lot of strong feelings there and we don’t want to cause unnecessary division in our group, and although there are certainly favorites among our members, I don’t want to support one or the other from an official stance.”
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Jeff Burkhead is editor of the Herald Times. You may e-mail him at jeff@theheraldtimes.com.