Michigan State University

Facility for Rare Isotope Beams Groundbreaking

Goal: Plan and execute a groundbreaking event for the Facility for Rare Isotope Beams (FRIB), a one-of-its-kind research facility that was being debuted at MSU.

Notable Awards/Recognitions:
  • Public Relations Society of America Central Michigan Chapter Award for Excellence

The groundbreaking had two overarching goals. First, MSU wanted to solidify continued funding for the FRIB from both its state and federal sources by demonstrating public support for the project. MW worked closely with MSU’s government affairs staff, which researched the legislative calendars of key members of Congress, along with schedules of officials from the Department of Energy, the project funder, to maximize attendance of key officials.

The second goal was for FRIB to show its gratitude to the countless University employees and federal officials who had supported the project from its early stages. We collaborated with MSU’s communications and brand services staff to examine past groundbreaking events at MSU for inspiration. A similar groundbreaking, for example, included a strong video presentation to excite the audience, key speakers and a special reception/luncheon that allowed additional speeches and informal conversation.

Action Plan & Communication Overview:

We helped organize the event by assembling lists of potential invitees by categories, speakers, various events surrounding the main groundbreaking, targeted news coverage and more. We created a detailed minute-by-minute run of show for the entire day, ​​revising as needed until the last minute. As often happens, during the planning process dates and venues were changed. Martin Waymire helped ensure new venues were cleared and available and worked with appropriate MSU officials to ensure the locations were ready.

Given the relative speed of the event (planning to execution was fewer than 60 days), Martin Waymire recommended and developed evites to reach invitees. Martin Waymire also developed and printed fact sheets and programs for the events.

Gov. Rick Snyder was unable to attend. In lieu of his attendance, MW drafted a script for the governor to use in a video which was shown at the groundbreaking. We also drafted talking points for key speakers at the event.

  • The event followed the detailed plan very closely.
  • Attendance was outstanding, with U.S. Senators Carl Levin and Debbie Stabenow and U.S. Reps. David Camp, Mike Rogers and Tim Walberg joining top university, state and local leaders.
  • Deputy Undersecretary for Science and Energy Michael Knoetek, as part of his speech, reminded attendees that their support would be needed to keep FRIB funding on schedule.
  • The video was carried online and clips were made available by Martin Waymire on YouTube.
  • News coverage was outstanding, with coverage from The Associated Press, The Detroit News and Free Press, Lansing State Journal, MLive and more.
  • Television stations from Grand Rapids and Lansing covered the event.
  • More than 200 tweets were sent from and about the event.
  • Most importantly, FRIB funding was increased from $60 million in the 2013-14 budget to $90 million in the next year’s budget, a 50% increase.
  • State funding for the project was also continued, despite tight state budgets, as the event helped make the case for continued state investment.

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