Centre Gets Big Return On Debate Investment

Oct 18, 2012

DANVILLE, Ky.  --  For Centre College, the time spent basking in the national political spotlight as the host of last week's vice presidential debate was well worth the investment, officials with the small private college say.

Centre spokesman Michael Strysick tells The Advocate-Messenger newspaper that initial information shows the publicity value of the attention was at least four times more than the initial cost.

The newspaper says the school reportedly spent about $3.3 million to put on the event that featured Joe Biden and Paul Ryan.

Strysick said there have been more than 10,000 media hits - representing any kind of coverage - since the debate was announced nearly a year ago. The media presence in Danville for the debate was as large as the school anticipated.

The Commission on Presidential Debates said 3,236 media personnel representing 1,542 organizations were credentialed. That included 574 foreign media representing 65 news organizations and 40 countries.

Centre works with a marketing company to assess the return the school gets on its advertising spending.

Strysick said he's working to assess the foreign media impact, which is not measured in the numbers from the marketing company.

It's too early to say what kinds of benefits the school will reap from its raised profile.

The college is tracking traffic on its website to get a feel for how much interest was generated, Strysick said.

It will take a while to see if student applications will be affected. School officials give some credit for an increase in the number, quality and diversity of applications after Center hosted the 2000 vice presidential debate.

One of the big surprises from this year's debate happened after the media had left town. The opening skit on NBC's "Saturday Night Live" was based on the vice presidential debate and showed a photo of the Norton Center for the Arts at Centre.