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Debate brings millions in marketing value

Along with reporters, cameras and excitement, the sole U.S. Vice Presidential Debate at Longwood University brought with it more than $81 million in media value to the school and $38.5 million to Farmville and Prince Edward County, according to Longwood officials.

“We used a third-party service that calculates the media value of these articles, broadcasts and online pieces to come up with the total figure,” said

Matthew McWilliams

Matthew McWilliams

Longwood spokesman Matthew McWilliams. “It’s one of the leading media monitoring companies in the country, and this is standard for how these figures are calculated.”

The same formula used to calculate Longwood’s impact was applied to that of the community, he said.

The Oct. 4 event brought thousands of people to Farmville and millions of eyes to the town, county and Longwood through television, internet and other media sources.

“We applied the same formula that we used to calculate Longwood’s earned media value to Farmville and Prince Edward. We compiled the total number of media hits — print, broadcasts and

online stories — and looked at the total ad equivalency value for those hits. We also included the 46 hours of live programming over four cable news networks on campus in the days surrounding the debate, as the town’s name and several shots of downtown were featured prominently during those broadcasts.”

Ilsa Loeser

Ilsa Loeser

The exposure the school and community received through the debate, he said, “is hard to come by outside hosting a major event like this, and we worked closely with town communicators to take full advantage of that bright spotlight. An example of this was assisting with the effort to launch visitfarmville.com before the debate. Launched in September, traffic spiked in October and grew even into November, evidence that the work paid off.”

Calling it an opportunity from the debate, Ilsa Loeser, who worked with the town in its marketing efforts prior to and during the debate through her marketing firm, Letterpress Communications, said the joint-ventured Visit Farmville website, created in collaboration with the town, Longwood University, Prince Edward County and Hampden-Sydney College, reached over 138,000 people through social media during the debate.

“That’s a beautiful kind of advertising,” Loeser said in a previous interview.

The primary marketing goal for the town during the debate, Loeser said, was to energize people to come visit.

Loeser said she and her team worked directly with more than 50 different media individuals over the course of the debate.

The town’s revamped website, on the day of the debate, had about 4,400 visits, or 800 times more than average. At the time, the site normally had about 500 visitors per day.

The debate page on the town’s site had about 2,500 viewers.

Loeser said that after NBC’s Lester Holt, the moderator of the first presidential debate, mentioned “Farmville, Virginia” at the end of his live broadcast,

David Whitus

David Whitus

the town website’s visits jumped by about 300 percent.

“This debate was an excellent example of cooperation between the town and Longwood University,” said Mayor David Whitus in response to the media value. “It is a partnership that will continue to provide opportunities for residents and students alike.”

Town Manager Gerald Spates called the debate “a bright moment in our town’s history that will continue to shine and have a positive impact on the town for years to come.”

“We have seen visitors at the Visitor Center say they learned about our community from the coverage surrounding the debate,” said Prince Edward County Administrator Wade Bartlett. “These people would not have visited our county without that exposure.”


Along with reporters, cameras and excitement, the sole U.S. Vice Presidential Debate at Longwood University brought with it more than $81 million in media value to the school and $38.5 million to Farmville and Prince Edward County, according to Longwood officials.

“We used a third-party service that calculates the media value of these articles, broadcasts and online pieces to come up with the total figure,” said Longwood spokesman Matthew McWilliams. “It’s one of the leading media monitoring companies in the country, and this is standard for how these figures are calculated.”

The same formula used to calculate Longwood’s media was applied to that of the community, he said.

The Oct. 4 event brought thousands of people to Farmville and millions of eyes to the town, county and Longwood through television, internet and other media sources.