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U Hartford PR Students To Market Friendthem on Campus for Credit

Two teams of public relations students at the University of Hartford are vying in their class to promote the use of a higher education social networking service at their own university.

Susan Grantham's "PR Campaigns" class in the School of Communication is working with Friendthem, a GPS service that lets users find other users within a "geo-fence" who aren't already linked to connect with them with a single click via popular social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn. The tool uses location to eliminate the search process for finding potential connections. Campus buildings can be "tagged" to allow the user to connect socially with departments or faculty or staff who reside in that location. Versions of the app are available for Android and iOS.

In the competition, two teams are developing marketing and PR plans to introduce Friendthem to incoming students and potential students. The plan that wins will be implemented in the second half of the semester.

The class has already met with company CEO Charles Sankowich, who generated a lot of media attention in 2012 when he accused Facebook of stealing its idea and putting it out as a "Find Friends Nearby" feature. The company removed that feature hours later, according to this Wired coverage. At the time Facebook had said the feature had come out of a hackathon.

Through a spokesman the company said that its campus focus would allow "incoming students, transfer students or those students simply involved in a new campus organization or class...to create a richer, more connected sense of community through the medium they have grown up using for relationship building."

"Working with Friendthem is an excellent opportunity for the students to develop plans based on research," said Grantham. "The mobile app industry is growing and crucial for so many businesses and on a personal level."

Noted Allison Fingado, a member of the class' "Elite Relations" team, "With so many opportunities to connect with others on a college campus, it's exciting for us to be able to work with Friendthem to learn about client relations, building a campaign and bringing '#OneClickConnectivity' to the University of Hartford."

Competitor Kaylee Reynolds, a member of the "Gold Group" team, added, "Networking is crucial today. It's all about who you know. Friendthem is the bridge to developing lasting connections in one click!"

Sankowich said he was excited to work directly with students to "see how they envision our tool being used" and to gain "valuable insight" from use by the greater campus population. "Friendthem is a tool which is perfect for universities like Hartford to incorporate. It uses technology [that] students and potential students already are familiar with, to engage, retain and motivate them to have stronger connections to the school; from campus tours through alumni activities."

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