By the time you are a senior, it’s almost impossible to do anything in public without being conscious of how organizations interact with people. ‘Target audiences’ and ‘key publics’ have been drilled into our heads; so even when we are off the clock and out of the classrooms, it has become natural to observe our surroundings. When I witnessed students sitting on the floor of the Physics Building, my Public Relations’ senses were tingling.
The Planetarium at Georgia Southern University premiered The Pink Floyd Dark Side of the Moon Rock Show, a laser light performance that took the audience through time and space while listening to the entire Dark Side of the Moon album. Fliers were posted in every building. The event even landed a story on the front page of Georgia Southern’s student newspaper, The George Ann. The Physics department had planned to hold four laser light showings. I knew from all the publicity, the free event was going to be packed. So I went an hour and a half early, just to find a line out of the door and people turning others away.
Apparently by 5:30 p.m., the department had given out of tickets for the 6:00 p.m. and 7:00 p.m. shows. When I arrived at 7:45 p.m., the 8:00 p.m. show was filling in and tickets had been handed out for the 9:00 p.m. and an extra 10:00 p.m. showing that was added. Still, there were at least 20 people waiting patiently in the hallway, trying not to give up hope on their evening. I kept quiet for a while, watching two George Ann reporters smoothly talk their way into sitting on the floor. But that wasn’t fair for the rest of us.
Surprisingly, the astronomy lab coordinator, Becky Lowder, invited everyone to come back two hours later for a final showing. My frustration turned into admiration in an instant. I can only imagine that must have been how the entire hallway felt as several cheers erupted from our small victory.
After the show, I had a chance to speak with Ms. Lowder, and asked her what made her decide to do the 6th showing, volunteering her time to stay on campus until Midnight.
Ms. Lowder said, “We didn’t want to disappoint anyone. I’m just thrilled that there were this many students that like Pink Floyd – This is wonderful.”
I suggested handing out tickets a day or two in advance to avoid this problem at future shows, but no actions have been decided. It was just refreshing to see our University’s Physics department face the crisis, and brilliantly rise to the challenge of keeping people happy.