New York Urban League

Clearer messaging to reignite support for an annual signature event


In the summer of 2010, the New York Urban League approached The Wakeman Agency to provide media relations services for its 40th Annual Football Classic. The game, which is considered one of the hallmark events, provides funds for the League’s Whitney M. Young, Jr., scholarship program.

In recent years, the game had lost its luster and attendance was down by more than 20%.
We were retained 30 days prior to the event date with the directive to generate pre-event and event day awareness via media relations. While the event had a dedicated group of core attendees who had attended the event for many years, it was not generating the level of excitement that it had in past years, thereby not attracting new supporters. This was primarily a problem of messaging.

One of the key messages that was not being communicated to the NYUL core audiences was the importance of their support; ticket purchases were direct revenue for the scholarship fund.

In pitching the media, we focused on simple ways that supporters could contribute to the scholarship program at all financial levels; human interest stories about generational support of the game; the historic tradition of the game and the direct impact to families and communities when students were able to go to college.

By clarifying the messaging, we were able to effectively educate people about the impact of the game and reignite support for this annual signature event.
More than 40,000 people attended the game.


  • Increase in attendance of 23%
  • Increased understanding of the value of the game
  • Additional exposure for sponsors
  • Conversations online about the game
Contact us to explore how our strategic communications expertise will help shape the trajectory of your organization’s work toward meaningful impact.