One of the neat things about Pokémon Go is that the it’s built upon the game Ingress. For Ingress, players nominated public places of interest – statues, buildings, fountains, public buildings, artwork, etc – to be portals to be used in the game, and that dataset carried over to become gyms and pokestops in Pokémon Go.
And this includes a lot of schools. And a lot of things of school campuses – art murals, statues and the like. School principals are this week discovering that people – and kids – are coming to school voluntarily, to play Pokémon Go.
What to do about that?
If you have a Pokémon Go Gym
A gym looks like this. It’s pretty fancy, it has a color (red, blue, or yellow), and it will rotate through with a Pokémon displayed on top. When you click on it, it will tell you that it’s a gym, and it will display a photo of the location / place it corresponds to, and information about the Pokémon that are “in” the gym at the moment.
What to go if you have a gym at your school? I’d recommend a few things.
First, some background. Know that, for players to use this Pokémon Go gym, they will need to physically come in proximity to the location of it. That means bringing their phone to the location, based on GPS signal. People are going to be doing this at all hours, day and night. As a school and as a principal / team, just get use to this. Talk about it. Come up with a plan. “No” isn’t going to work. Yes, there are implications for safety and insurance, but these are the same safety and insurance implications that existed before Pokémon Go.
Put up some signs there to welcome people who DO come. Give them some place to “check in” to, via social media. Want them to publicize it on Facebook? Leave a QR code and a note with the link to that. Want them to Tweet about it? Or share on Instagram about any Pokemon that they catch on campus? Give them your instagram account name and a URL / QR code! Make it easy for them – you know, based on the location / GPS coordinates of the gym, exactly where they are going to be going. This will work for everyone coming to the visit the gym.
And if you want to get fancy, reach out to the gym champions. Have your students interview them for the school newspaper, etc. Make it a part of your school identity – because it now IS a part of your school. If you have good enough fortune, you’ll find that players will bring strong Pokémon there to protect your school and will build a good relationship with you.
If you have a Pokestop
A Pokestop looks like this (OK, two Pokestops looks like this). If you have a Pokéstop on campus, you have a very powerful took – because you can add lures to it.
Lures are a 30-minute bait that can be added to a Pokéstop, and in doing so, they cause more Pokemon to spawn in the immediate area. And by more, I mean a LOT more. And if more than one Pokéstops in close proximity are baited at the same time, things get really crazy. Yesterday, I was at a site where two Pokéstops had lures on them at the same time, and there were Pokémon popping out of the ground, left and right. It was wild.
And there were players gathered there. Talking, socializing. It was awesome.
Pokémon Go gives some lures as people make rank. But more can be purchased. Pokémon Go has an in-game store. Principals, you would be brilliant – brilliant, I tell you – if you used lures effectively and efficiently, in conjunction with planned school events, your advertisement, and social media, to bring people to your school for your events.
Announce that you’re going to be putting lures on your Pokéstop at 6:30, before the 7:00 open house, so that kids want their parents to arrive early. Announce that you’re going to put a lure on the Pokéstop at the conclusion of the parent/teacher night, so that kids want to stay for the end of it.
The sky is the limit on these things.
And, again, integrate it with your social media strategy. Talk about what ones you’re finding on campus.
Update: Here’s an example of First Lutheran Church, kind of doing it right. And here’s the tweet from Arlington National Cemetery, reminding people, “We do not consider playing ‘Pokemon Go’ to be appropriate decorum on the grounds of ANC. We ask all visitors to refrain from such activity.”