The T4Youth tournament is always one of the biggest days on the 3Points calendar, and our interns always play a big role in the event’s success. This year, our fall intern Bailey Doyle led the charge for us — we asked her to write about her experience for our blog.
My time here at 3Points Communications has been challenging and exciting. The opportunities I have been given at 3Points made me realize how compelling I find the public relations field. Whether I was learning a new software program or coming up with a social media campaign, I found my professional skill set tested and strengthened in countless instances while at 3Points. One of the most significant examples of that was T4Youth.
T4Youth is an annual charity table tennis tournament that unites Chicago tech professionals to raise money to support STEM education and project-based learning at the Chicago Tech Academy (ChiTech). Each year, 3Points — captained by our CEO Drew Mauck, one of the co-founders of T4Youth — plays a big role in organizing the event. T4Youth 2019 was the biggest one yet, with over 500 attendees, 19 sponsors, and a total of over $105,000 raised for the students of ChiTech!
When my internship started back in August of this year, I had never heard of T4Youth — but that didn’t last long. Early on, I was introduced to the project and given a leadership role in the execution of the event on the 3Points side, mainly the management of the T4Youth social media accounts, but also earned media pitching and event coordination.
The social team and I wanted to utilize T4Youth’s social media platforms for the event differently than in years past, to shift the focus from the Chicago tech community playing ping pong together to the reason we play in the first place: the students of ChiTech. Inspired by the #ALSIceBucketChallenge and its massive impact on social media, we wanted to inform people about what drives T4Youth’s mission and create an active way for audiences to engage with our posts, but we knew that our campaign needed to be tailored to fit T4Youth’s voice. This is how the #WhyT4Y social media campaign was born!
At first, #WhyT4Y was just an idea, and we knew if it was going to take off, it would require both a strategy and lots of hard work — the coordination of a brand-new social media campaign is not something you can do in an hour. The social media team charged full speed ahead, motivated by the potential impact a successful campaign could make on the lives of the ChiTech students. We planned, and planned, and planned some more, bouncing ideas off one another and bouncing ping pong balls off all sorts of surfaces. Rapid-fire questions started: whom will we showcase? What should we ask them to do? Why should they do it? How are we going to pull this off? We took into account past years of T4Youth social media and noticed that it was lacking engagement as well as a visual aspect; with that in mind, we thought trying to incorporate some visual strategies would help get people excited for the tournament, up our social media game, and spread awareness for the cause. That is when we decided to call upon the supporters and sponsors of T4Youth and have them share in a video why they chose to participate (their #WhyT4Y), but with one little twist: they had to share their #WhyT4Y all while incorporating a ping pong ball.
In the process, I learned a lot about running a social media campaign, and all the behind-the-scenes work that goes into it. Before #WhyT4Y came to life, I had been working on “regular posting” for T4Youth for weeks and got pretty used to it. However, a social media campaign is quite different. It’s like a real-life ping pong ball flying back and forth across the table. Things are always changing, and you need to be able to adapt to the moves of your opponent — or in our case, the people we were pitching to take part in the campaign — to win the point.
After much brainstorming, we came up with a plan for a campaign that would encourage participation. Since here at 3Points we like to do things in threes, it only made sense to draw up this plan with three steps:
- Ask companies with teams signed up for T4Youth 2019 to record a video less than a minute long that would not only demonstrate the team’s table tennis skills, but more importantly, explain why they were participating in T4Youth.
- Follow up with companies one more time if they needed a little extra nudge to get involved.
- Post these #WhyT4Y videos on social media to help promote this new campaign as well as the T4Youth 2019 event.
To kick things off, my fellow intern, Annie, and I created our own #WhyT4Y video and called for other teams to do the same. It took a few nudges to remind teams to send in videos, but we found that people were genuinely excited and interested in participating in our campaign! We ended up receiving #WhyT4Y submissions from Objective Paradigm, Livly, and Supernova Technology. When we began posting these videos, we got lots of great feedback and noticed that these posts had much higher engagement rates than our other posts on T4Youth’s social media. We could tell right off that bat that the campaign was effectively spreading excitement for the event. Especially considering that this was the first social media campaign I’ve ever led, this was a big success!
The Big Day
After a month of planning, posting, and practicing my ping pong skills, the big event was finally here! At first, it felt like any other day at the 3Points office, but once the afternoon hit and I made my way to SPiN Chicago, I knew things were about to get exciting.
Starting from the minute that I arrived at SPiN with my team, we were posting live updates on all of the T4Youth social platforms. This task became more difficult as the night progressed, because of both the crowds of people swarming in and the desire to cheer on the 3Points team playing in the tournament. (If you saw a short blonde girl running around in a T4Youth staff shirt snapping pictures, that was me.)
The T4Youth atmosphere was like something out of a movie — everywhere around me it seemed like something exciting and dramatic was taking place, from the intense, yet friendly, competition at the ping pong tables to the focused puzzle-solving around the Rubik’s Cube challenge. With a good cause, good friends, and good eats, it was one memorable night, though it seemed to go by in a flash. At the end of the evening, Magnetar Capital’s team came out champions in their first year of play, and the feedback about the event was nothing but positive!
Being at the event and seeing the excitement on people’s faces, I couldn’t help but feel that the #WhyT4Y campaign was a part of that. I was even recognized by someone from my #WhyT4Y video, which was the last thing I was expecting, but it was flattering to see in real life proof that people were viewing and engaging with the campaign.
T4Youth was a one-of-a-kind experience. Seeing it come together from the ground up was one of the best experiences from my internship. Being involved in T4Youth opened my eyes to the amount of work it takes to put an event like that together. More importantly, T4Youth made an impact on me by showing me what it’s like to be part of something bigger than myself and giving me a way to become involved in the Chicago tech community, a community that I have only recently become part of. Overall, it was an incredibly rewarding experience and something I look forward to taking part in for years to come.
I learned a lot from my time here at 3Points. Usually, when you hear the word “intern,” you think of someone who is getting coffee and making copies. 3Points separates itself from many firms because it drops you in the deep end and expects you to swim. 3Points encourages an environment of learning and gets you as involved as possible. As a recent college graduate, I am forever grateful to 3Points for helping me start my professional career on a high note.