CNU students offer tips for drawing young people to Mathews

by Sherry Hamilton - Posted on Apr 30, 2014 - 01:26 PM

Photo: Students from Christopher Newport University last week provided Mathews County Visitor and Information Center volunteers and others with information on using technology and social media to attract visitors to the county. Standing, from left, are CNU students Ashley Belson, Taryn Fox, Clarice Stewart, Craig Butler, and Eric Ginsburg; seated are Rebecca McCoy, Mark Merriner, Mathews County supervisor Jack White and Lori Dusenberry. Photo by Sherry Hamilton

Students from Christopher Newport University last week provided Mathews County Visitor and Information Center volunteers and others with information on using technology and social media to attract visitors to the county. Standing, from left, are CNU students Ashley Belson, Taryn Fox, Clarice Stewart, Craig Butler, and Eric Ginsburg; seated are Rebecca McCoy, Mark Merriner, Mathews County supervisor Jack White and Lori Dusenberry. Photo by Sherry Hamilton

Five Christopher Newport University students were charged with coming up with ways to attract young people to Mathews County through a social media and marketing campaign.

The students presented their study findings and suggestions during a gathering last Wednesday at Mathews Memorial Library.

The students are pursuing varying academic majors, but as business minors, they are all participants in the capstone course for minors, the Small Business Institute.

Under the guidance of Professor Willie Donaldson, instructor of management at CNU, they were charged with helping the Mathews County Visitor and Information Center initiate a campaign that would appeal to young people.

Eric Ginsburg, a senior studying chemistry, told those gathered that Mathews County has little intrinsic appeal for the under-35 crowd because of a lack of activities and entertainment, but that the county would appeal to families.

Instead of trying to attract a younger demographic, he said, the visitor’s center should target their parents, who have more money to spend and “would bring us along.”

The best segments of society for Mathews County to target, said David Butler, a senior in communication studies, are water enthusiasts, birders, cyclists, artists and history lovers. He said that using social media such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram more often and more effectively would help get the word out about what Mathews County has to offer, and he suggested updating the MCVIC website, which he described as “bland and not aesthetically appealing.”

While Mathews has a variety of outdoor activities, arts opportunities and campgrounds to offer visitors, said Butler, it lacks adequate facilities for staying overnight, and it needs a nightlife for younger people.

“You should have things stay open later,” he said.

Information needs to go out to bikers, fishermen, campers, bird watchers and art and history enthusiasts in Northern Virginia, Richmond and Hampton Roads that Mathews County welcomes them, said Butler. He suggested holding such activities as birding or kayaking festivals or a bluefish tournament.