Lessons learned from Spring Jam

by Joelle Stangler, University student


Let me open by saying I made a point to save this letter until after Spring Jam. As someone who owns all of Mat Kearney’s CDs, I was not one of the hundreds of angry posts on the Student Unions and Activities’ Facebook page in an uproar over the decision. SUA was put in a difficult situation and made the best of it with the resources it had. However, what did put me in an uproar was its lack of good public relations in dealing with the masses. Here’s what it should have done leading up to Spring Jam.

First, as soon as SUA knew it couldn’t get Macklemore, it should have established its scapegoat. Instead of defending why it didn’t get Macklemore for Spring Jam, SUA could have bought the best seats for Macklemore’s concert at the Minnesota State Fair this summer and sold them to students at a reduced cost. Or, if SUA was strategic, it would’ve held on to them until Spring Jam and given them away at the Kearney concert.

Next, SUA should have utilized its social media better and minimized the backlash it would inevitably receive. Rather than announcing the headliner in video format on its Facebook page, SUA should have made it a Facebook event. The video can be shared, moving it to the top of a friend’s news feed. With a video, comments appear quickly and allow for people to incessantly “like” comments with similar sentiments. The comments then lose their meaning and become a game of who can hate on the lineup in the most creative way. In an event, it is far easier to pin posts so they are hidden, or delete them from the timeline. In addition, if you share the event, you are not sharing the hundreds of comments that go with it. As it stands, should someone want to share the post in a positive light, they are forced to include all the negative comments with it. SUA set itself up for rapid and easily accessible criticism.

Finally, after the initial backlash, SUA should have swallowed its pride and made up for the mistake. SUA volunteers or employees should have hopped on Twitter and Facebook, asked who students wanted to see for the homecoming concert and moved on. Part of damage control is ensuring the so-called damage doesn’t happen again.

That being said, the weekend was one SUA should be proud of, and it should be commended on the time, effort and creativity it put into a weekend the entire student body could enjoy in one way or another.