Student Outreach

This section highlights both outreach strategies used to promote the Big Ideas Contest to potential student applicants and the print materials used to advertise the Contest. For information about outreach to prospective mentors, judges, and sponsors, see the sections on Mentorship, Judging, and Funding & Category Development, respectively.

Student Outreach Strategies
UC Berkeley students are inundated with information about student organizations and opportunities to participate in campus life activities. Creating interest and excitement around the Contest amidst many competing opportunities is no small feat, and as a result, Big Ideas@Berkeley uses a variety of strategies to maximize outreach opportunities. These strategies include face-to-face efforts (e.g., tabling), indirect efforts (e.g., informing academic advisors of the Contest), and use of social media. Outlined below are the strategies that were used in the 2012-13 Contest year and comments on their effectiveness.

In-Person Outreach Efforts

  • Classroom announcements: Undergraduate student staff or Big Ideas affiliate instructors make classroom announcements when the Contest has started. This strategy is effective especially if there is a category relevant to the class material or subject.
  • Advisors’ Luncheon: Each year at the beginning of the fall semester, Big Ideas@Berkeley hosts an advisors’ luncheon, where Big Ideas@Berkeley staff invite academic and student services advisors from across departments to an overview of the Big Ideas Contest. During the luncheon, staff provide advisors with marketing materials (e.g., a Big Ideas tote bag stuffed with posters, informational brochures, etc.) which they can display in their offices and hand out to students. Big Ideas markets to advisors to ensure that advisors will inform their students of the Contest. Fifty-three percent of 2012-13 finalists indicated that they learned about the Contest from an advisor, indicating that this strategy is particularly effective.
  • Tabling: Undergraduate student staff assist in tabling during UC Berkeley events, such as UC Berkeley’s summer student orientation and welcome week activities. At Big Ideas tables, student staff provide information about the Contest and hand out informational flyers or the Contest’s signature paper airplanes (see Tools section).
  • Big Ideas Events: Events hosted by Big Ideas such as workshops, information sessions, and Contest events such as Pitch Day are also venues for marketing the Contest.
  • T-Shirts & Giveaways: Big Ideas@Berkeley orders t-shirts each year to hand out at Big Ideas events (such as writing workshops and information sessions). T-shirts serve as mobile billboards: When students and staff wear them, they advertise Big Ideas to other students and increase brand awareness. The same is true for tote bags, pens, and other giveaways.
  • Social Media Outreach Efforts: Evaluation results indicate that very few, if any, students learn about Big Ideas from social media sites. However, it is likely that students who first learn about Big Ideas@Berkeley from their advisors, advertisements, or by other means join Big Ideas social media networks to gain additional information and stay informed about the Contest.
  • Facebook: Big Ideas@Berkeley created a Facebook page where staff post information about upcoming events (e.g., writing workshops, information sessions, etc.) and post pictures from these events. The cover photo on the Facebook group page serves as a page billboard, advertising and alerting group members to upcoming deadlines. Big Ideas social media staff change the cover photos weekly to ensure that the Big Ideas@Berkeley group is frequently seen in group members’ news feeds. To ensure that as many students as possible navigate to the Big Ideas Facebook page, group members are also tagged in photos from events.
  • Twitter: Big Ideas created a Twitter page where Big Ideas social media staff tweet about upcoming events or share interesting updates from past winners.
  • Linkedin: Big Ideas created a LinkedIn group in an effort to stay connected with past winners. However, LinkedIn is typically a less popular social network for students, and therefore less effective.
  • Vimeo/YouTube: Vimeo and YouTube are mostly used to house the People’s Choice Contest Video submissions. By posting the videos on these sites, Big Ideas hopes members of their social media networks will like and share videos, thereby raising awareness about and promoting the Contest.

Big Ideas recognizes that increasing its presence on social media platforms will likely help Big Ideas connect with a greater number of potential applicants. Big Ideas is currently exploring the possibility of creating a social media presence on the following sites: Google+, Instagram, Tumblr, Pinterest, Reddit, etc.

Print Materials
In addition to in-person and social media outreach efforts, Big Ideas creates a number of print materials to market the Contest. Creating newspaper advertisements, posters, and flyers with consistent designs that students are repeatedly exposed to increases the likelihood that students will become aware of the Contest, seek out additional information, and be encouraged to apply. Survey results indicate that eighteen percent of the finalists from the 2012-13 Contest heard about Big Ideas Contest from a poster on campus. These results indicate that print materials are an effective form of outreach to students. Below is a list of the various print materials produced during the 2012-13 Contest year.

  • Newspaper Ads: Newspapers advertisements were run in UC Berkeley’s student newspaper, The Daily Californian. Big Ideas typically purchases advertisement space in newspaper special editions, such as the Homecoming and Back to School editions.
  • Quarter sheets: Quarter sheet flyers are distributed to UC Berkeley’s dining halls and displayed on dining hall tables to advertise the Contest as well as specific Contest events (e.g., information sessions and writing workshops).
  • Posters: Posters are regularly posted across the UC Berkeley campus. Some of these posters are generic and are applicable to any department, some advertise particular Contest categories, and some are targeted to students in particular departments. The following types of posters are designed each Contest year:
  • Branding Posters are posted before the Contest officially starts in heavily trafficked areas such as the main plaza on campus, billboards, and in popular interdisciplinary buildings.
  • Once the fall semester begins, Announcement Posters are put up across campus announcing the start of the Contest, each year’s categories, and the Pre-proposal deadline.
  • Category Posters are printed with specific category descriptions and targeted at the areas on campus that specifically tie in with that category. For example, Creative Expression for Social Justice Category posters are posted in the Art, Film, Architecture, Political Science, Sociology, and Peace and Conflicts Studies departments.
  • Photo Campaign Posters also announce the Pre-proposal application deadline and showcase past winners and their ideas to highlight the diversity of both winning ideas and student teams.
  • Event Handouts: Events such as Pitch Day and the Awards Celebration have programs (usually a folded one-pager with information about the event, the Contest, and the categories) that are handed out to attendees. Big Ideas staff also hand out one-pagers at conferences they present at or attend.
  • Paper Planes: Paper planes serve as general information flyers used primarily for tabling.


  • Brand the Big Ideas identity by keeping everything consistent
  • Try to make materials multipurpose
  • Tailor designs/messages to: Students, Potential Donors, Judges/Mentors
  • Fonts: Headers are Futura Medium
  • Fonts: Body Text and Captions are Optima and Optima Italics
  • Large Posters use Futura Medium because it’s legible from a distance, bold, and fun
  • Inspiring words encourage student applicants via social media or print marketing