Missing Baton Rouge? Helping BRAC showcase the best of BTR using SCVNGR

I am a transplant to Baton Rouge. I was not born a Southerner. I was born and raised in Wisconsin and then lived in North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri and West Virginia for the first 35+ years of my being. As you can see on this map, I spent most of my life living above the Mason-Dixon Line.

Image from SonoftheSouth.net

Image from SonoftheSouth.net

As someone new to the area I want to take in everything I can of the culture, the cuisine and the surroundings. But, it isn’t easy to find out more about where you live. Often, many of the things you ask about people who have lived there forever either: 1) take for granted and don’t tell you about it ’cause they think you already know it, or 2) don’t know “why” a thing is the way it is. Things have been lost over generations. Stories that used to be passed on about local legends have been forgotten. While there are sites such as this one that help collect local folklore, the stories listed there are sparce. As you can see from this Louisiana listing, not much has been handed down and posted to the site.

Now, when it comes to the local cuisine, Southerners can tell you EVERYTHING. Where to locate the best, what spices they use, how to make it yourself at home, etc. Recently, a friend showed us how to do a proper Louisiana Crawfish Boil — and Wowee was it amazing!!!!!

Image from Commons.wikimedia.com

Image from Commons.wikimedia.com

Getting to better know my surroundings has been a bit more difficult. I want to visit all those places that make Baton Rouge unique. The places that aren’t necessarily listed in the brochures at the hotels:) That’s where the Baton Rouge Area Chamber (BRAC) and SCVNGR come in.

BRAC is currently working to promote Baton Rouge as the Creative Capital of the South. They are working with local businesses to bring new talent to the Baton Rouge area. To promote BTR they are using interaction, engagement and yes, even the geolocation-based mobile gaming application, SCVNGR. As part of the service-learning component of my MC4001- Public Relations Writing course at the Manship School of Mass Communication, students are building mobile treks to help BRAC showcase the best of BTR. Their hope is to get talented individuals to re-locate here permanently.

The treks BRAC and my students have planned are:

  • Discover/Re-discover BR
  • Nightlife
  • Arts and Culture
  • Get out of Town

Each of these will help people who are transplants (i.e., completely new to the area) or boomerangs (i.e., once lived here and are coming back) find out about established locations as well as new places they should try out.

So whether you are a boomerang who is missing your roots in Baton Rouge or a transplant who is missing out on Baton Rouge — we have you covered.

Continue following our progress on this project by checking out my students’ blog (see blogroll on left). You can also follow me on Twitter (@jensenmoore) or find me on LinkedIn.

It’s beginning to look a lot like Trek season in Baton Rouge: SCVNGR for social good

Every time I drive onto the LSU campus via Dalrymple Drive I feel a sense of awe at how beautiful Baton Rouge is. There is an amazing variety of wildlife, trees and flowers at the LSU lakes and campus. I walk around constantly looking at things here and wondering what they are. For example, I am constantly curious what the beautiful birds are that I see in the water here.

The LSU lakes

What if there was a mobile application where you could find out not only what type of bird you were looking at in any particular place, but who else had been there, what they liked best, and tips they might have for you? Oh wait, there is an app for that. It’s called SCVNGR.

This semester the PR Writing students at the Manship School of Mass Communication are creating SCVNGR Treks for local Baton Rouge nonprofits. Many of these will include outdoor activities (e.g., a Trek through the Baton Rouge park and recreation system) that will employ important aspects of game mechanics such as: achievements, behavioral momentum, discovery, points and progression.

Since it has been about 75 degrees and sunny the last few weeks it’s a great time to Trek though Baton Rouge. Gamifying the Baton Rouge community will make being in local places more fun. If the Treks are constructed correctly, it should also increase audience engagement for each of the nonprofits. While Baton Rouge is certainly lovely and entertaining, the ultimate goal of this project is the latter.

The PR students are trying to use SCVNGR to influence social good. As you can see in this early gamification article, this project is not the first one to use game mechanics for social good (you can also see that SCVNGR is also not the first mobile application to be used this way).

In December 2010 SCVNGR teamed up with American Eagle to raise funds for Big Brothers Big Sisters.

This week the students will be working hard on creating engaging Treks for their nonprofits. It will be interesting to see which game mechanics they will apply and how they intend to use PR tactics to promote the SCVNGR Trek and their nonprofit organization.

Follow us on this journey via Facebook (Discover Baton Rouge with SCVNGR) and Twitter (@discoverBTR).

I’m baaaaaack with another dose of SCVNGR!.

Actually, I moved — to Louisiana. However, I am back this semester with another SCVNGR project thanks again to an amazing grant opportunity from SCVNGRU.

Last semester I wrapped up the SCVNGR at West Virginia University (Morgantown, WV) project. The students were split into groups focused on adding for-profit clients in the categories of: restaurants, bars, services, entertainment and retail. In the beginning each group had to sign up 10 clients for each category. A task that was seemingly simple — after all, the accounts were free, the students were going to create the promotions for the client, and they were going to get each client media coverage. However, we soon discovered that even though something is free (and we would do all the legwork) clients were hesitant to sign up. SCVNGR, as well as other geolocation-based mobile gaming applications, were such a “new” concept in Morgantown that clients didn’t want to sign up.

Also, it took students sooooooooo long to get clients on board (we eventually had to limit the project to five clients signed up for each category) that they had so little time to concentrate their efforts on getting them media coverage about the project/SCVNGR. The class was PR Writing and Applications, therefore more of the focus should have been on the media coverage aspect.

So, this semester I am at Louisiana State University’s Manship School of Mass Communication in Baton Rouge, LA with a different take on the project. Instead of multiple clients, each group of PR Writing students will approach ONE Baton Rouge non-profit and set up a TREK for that client. They will design multiple CHALLENGES (e.g., take a photo, list your favorite, answer a question, etc.) for smartphone owners to complete at that non-profit. Once they sign up their ONE CLIENT the groups get to spend the rest of the semester focusing on a “mini-campaign” to get that client media coverage.

It’s not unheard of for mobile gaming applications to be used by non-profits. SCVNGR has successfully been used by the following non-profits:

The class is a bit overwhelmed at this point, but are starting to get excited about the possibilities this gives them. We are the only class in the U.S. that has been awarded this type of SCVNGR grant making them unique going into the workplace. They will already know how to set up mobile promotions, get audience engagement and promote a non-profit using a new type of digital technology. Employers should love this!