CU: $764K de­bate cost de­liv­ered $4M value

The Denver Post - - NEWS - By Sarah Kuta

boul­der» The Univer­sity of Colorado be­lieves the Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial de­bate it hosted in Oc­to­ber was the largest me­dia event in the cam­pus’s 140-year his­tory — and says it has the num­bers to back it up.

A univer­sity-com­mis­sioned anal­y­sis found the de­bate’s pub­lic­ity value to be be­tween $4.1 mil­lion and $4.2 mil­lion, well above the $764,102 that the univer­sity spent to host 14 Repub­li­can pres­i­den­tial hope­fuls on Oct. 28 at the Coors Event Cen­ter.

Hill+Knowl­ton Strate­gies, a global pub­lic re­la­tions firm based in New York City, es­ti­mated that CU earned $3.87 mil­lion in me­dia value based on ar­ti­cles that men­tioned CU by name and gave some de­tail about the univer­sity, ac­cord­ing to a sum­mary re­port com­piled by CU.

CU also earned $250,000 to $332,500 for a short, scene-set­ting clip of the cam­pus, the univer­sity seal, the Flatirons and a Ral­phie statue shown dur­ing an in­tro­duc­tion to the de­bate, which was broad­cast by ca­ble busi­ness news net­work CNBC.

All told, the de­bate was fea­tured in 4,529 news sto­ries be­tween July and Novem­ber last year, many of them men­tion­ing CU, and there were more than 10,000 so­cial me­dia en­gage­ments.

CU says it spent $54,517 on com­mu­ni­ca­tions and in­for­ma­tion tech­nol­ogy; $352,057 on po­lice, safety and se­cu­rity; $316,345 on site prepa­ra­tion; and $41,182 on other ex­penses, such as trans­porta­tion, park­ing work­ers and meals.

Of­fi­cials said in­sur­ance re­bates cov­ered the costs — no tu­ition, stu­dent fees or tax­payer money was used for the de­bate.

The same study found that the de­bate had a lo­cal eco­nomic im­pact, too.

Ap­prox­i­mately 200 state res­i­dents, 500 jour­nal­ists, 200 Repub­li­can Na­tional Com­mit­tee mem­bers and 350 CNBC em­ploy­ees and cam­paign staffers de­scended on Boul­der for the de­bate, spend­ing $424,400 to $628,100.

At times, stu­dents and fac­ulty were crit­i­cal of the univer­sity’s de­ci­sion to host and pay for the de­bate.

A pro­fes­sor said the univer­sity’s “ob­ses­sion with brand­ing” was get­ting in the way of its aca­demic mis­sion. Stu­dents protested the lack of seats in­side the Coors Event Cen­ter.

Other schools and cities, how­ever, stood by de­ci­sions to host high-pro­file political events, say­ing they had ben­e­fits like in­creas­ing alumni en­gage­ment.

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