Updated: May 3, 2019
Every year, Salisbury University's Student Organization for Activity Planning holds a spring concert popularly known as Gull Fest, but this year, Gull Fest has been cancelled and Nest Level is taking its place.
The new re-branded event has sparked curiosity from students around campus, but with only five days left until the concert, many still feel they have been left in the dark on the happenings of the event.
In her three years at SU, junior Elisa Rivera has never attended the annual Gull Fest concert, but in the era of the re-branding and the possibility of better artists she is thinking about attending the "new and improved concert," known as Nest Level.
But, Rivera is rethinking that decision yet again due to a lack of promotion for the event. And she has posed the question, "Why isn't Nest Level being promoted more?"
Rivera's interest was sparked at the start of the promotions to the event, but following the artist reveal, she feels she was left wanting more.
"Because they promoted it so much in the beginning, that it was gonna be this big artist and a big thing, and then after they announced who it was they haven't really followed up with anything more," Rivera said.
The re-branding began a few weeks back, as members of SOAP went around campus transcribing in large chalk lettering: “GULL FEST IS CANCELLED.”
SOAP then came out with its new proposed event, Nest Level, at a reveal event held in the Wicomico Room in the Guerrieri Student Union on March 28.
At this event, SOAP revealed the concert headliners in a series of videos that can be found on its Facebook page.
Rivera did not even hear first-hand from the SOAP reveal who the headlining artist was; she heard it from a friend. This led her to express that word-of-mouth was one big promotional tool she thinks SOAP has not used to its benefit.
In the weeks following the reveal event, Rivera said that she's only seen two posters, and that she "expected more."
Rivera had a few ideas as to what SOAP could be doing to better promote the event, including giveaways.
"They could be raffling off tickets, or do like a competition to win free tickets, you know?" Rivera said. "Because if you don't win, yeah it's only $10, which isn't bad, but if they did that, it would make people more inclined to go."
Rivera continued with the idea that raffling off tickets would also contribute to the talk of the event around campus.
"If your friend wins a free ticket, they would want someone to go with, and so it would be a chain effect in making more people want to attend."
Rivera expressed her opinion that ”Nest Level“ has the potential to be a good event that pulls in a large crowd, SOAP just needs to capitalize on the new changes and get the word out more. One change that has not been made to the event that Rivera would like to see is an outdoor venue.
"I think it should be outside again," Rivera said. "Like they have space to do it outside, and having it inside makes it feel like a middle school dance."
After talking with Rivera about her concerns, I reached out to SU junior and public relations major Ally Piercy to get a second opinion on what SOAP could be doing that they may not be in order to promote ”Nest Level.”
Piercy highlighted that in this digital age, the most reasonable way to reach the college demographic would be to promote through various social media outlets.
"In my opinion, to get the news out about this event, I think it would be super, super easy to use social media, because so many college students are on those massive marketing platforms," Piercy said. "And I think marketing definitely goes hand in hand with PR in getting the word out about events."
Lastly, I reached out to SU sophomore and SOAP Concert Chair Malik Hogue to get a better idea on what SOAP has been doing to promote, and why it isn't reaching campus in the way that they would like it to.
Hogue explained why some may have seen the concert promotions to be smaller scale in admitting that there were some setbacks in the process of getting the word out.
"With Nest Level, since it is a SOAP event, we treat it just like most of our other SOAP events," Hogue said. "Unfortunately, we don't have, I won't just say the budget but, the room to do everything that I want to do on, like, a bigger scale."
Hogue explained these setbacks, the first being that the event is considered private, so they are unable to do large commercial advertisements to the public.
Hogue would've liked to include advertisements for the event on the large projector at the front of the university, but since the event is not open to the public, that idea was shot down, along with radio advertisements and things that may confuse people outside of the university.
"Because of that, we did a lot of things on a much smaller scale," Hogue said. "We did posters for both the Nest Level concert, and the 'Nest Level Experience,' we put it on our Instagram, and we had a party reveal event in Commons."
Despite Rivera's initial thought that SOAP wasn't including giveaways in its promotional plans, Hogue also revealed that at the artist reveal event, they gave away two free tickets.
Along with this giveaway, Hogue explained that more giveaways would be announced via SOAP's social media accounts.
"The social media account is really where most of the promotion is going to," Hogue said. "When people follow that, they get most of the stuff we do, along with just going to other SOAP events where we name-drop our upcoming events."
Aside from the setbacks, Hogue still has high hopes for the event and thinks that the changes being implemented will pull in a larger crowd and make for an overall more enjoyable time for students.
One change Hogue thinks has made the biggest difference is the implementation of the SOAP concert committee.
"The biggest thing I think I like about this Nest Level is that for the first time, we're actually listening to what the students actually want," Hogue said. "We have a concert committee, which is a completely new idea we had — instead of it just being one person deciding who everybody on campus wants to listen to, we got a team of people from all different organizations."
Along with the committee, new changes to the event include moving the event that has traditionally been on a Sunday to a Saturday, and the addition of the ”Nest Level Experience“ event which will be held outside before the concert and will include free food for ticket holders, along with games, inflatables and more.
Hogue also revealed that he has some more "tricks up [his] sleeve" in regard to promotional ideas these next few days leading up to the concert on May 4.
For more information on Nest Level and other SOAP events, see:
By CAROLINE STREETT
Gull Life editor
Featured photo: Caroline Streett image.