WSSU’s Office of Integrated Marketing Communications wins four CASE awards
Winston-Salem State University (WSSU) wins four awards from the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) in this year’s regional competition recognizing the best communications and engagement from educational institutions.
The recognition includes Gold awards for Best Practices in Communications and Marketing and Online Innovation; a Silver award for Best Fundraising Video; and a Bronze award for Media Relations Program.
The annual Awards of Excellence recognize and showcase best practices in advancement and communications at educational institutions, including work in marketing, communications, alumni relations, fundraising, public relations, and special events. WSSU competes in CASE’s District III, which covers North Carolina, Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia. The district has more than 3,500 members. Gold, Silver and Bronze award winners in 58 categories are judged by experts from a variety of disciplines throughout the district.
“I am so proud of the Integrated Marketing Communications staff,” said Jaime Hunt, vice chancellor for strategic communications. “The team is deeply committed to producing high-quality marketing and communications campaigns that support the university’s mission and goals. Although we are a small team with limited resources, our work is of a caliber that can compete with much larger, better-resourced schools. It is tremendously exciting to receive recognition for that hard work.”
Best Practices in Communications and Marketing – Branding WSSU: Becoming a First-Choice University
In an effort to improve perceptions of the university among prospective students, the Office of Integrated Marketing Communications rolled out a branding effort designed to increase the percentage of first-time freshmen who reported WSSU as their first choice on the national CIRP survey. The survey is given to every first-year student at universities across the country. More than 85% of WSSU freshmen participate each year.
Toward this effort, the university centralized communications functions on campus to ensure consistency in messaging and to help eliminate “silos” on campus; deployed strategic, data-driven campaigns designed to drive action and change perceptions; developed and implemented projects that spoke specifically to the "why nots" that were expressed in focus groups and surveys; pursued media opportunities and targeted influencers on social media; and reviewed all communications to prospects and incoming students to ensure all touchpoints were on message. Through it all, one thing was most important: telling the university’s story.
The campaign was highly successful. The percentage of students reporting the university was their first choice increased steadily from 43% in 2014 to 62% in 2018 – far exceeding the national average among public universities of 50%.
Online Innovation – Ram Ready: Using Artificial Intelligence to Improve College Readiness
Working with campus partners, the Office of Integrated Marketing Communications developed a “Ram Ready” omni-channel communications campaign that incorporated traditional and digital communications that are enhanced by Winston, a text message virtual assistant. The campaign included a series of print pieces sent to each incoming student’s home address, series of email communications, a Ram Ready microsite, data-driven text messages, and social media messages. In addition, “Winston,” an artificial intelligence “bot,” provided real-time answers to student questions.
Fundraising Video – Our Grand Vision
In support of fundraising efforts at WSSU, the Office of Integrated Marketing Communications created a video designed to trigger emotion and inspire donors and friends. The video supported the Million Dollar Match campaign, which exceeded its goal of raising $1 million for scholarships from February-December 2019.
Media Relations Program – World War II Veteran Has Her Wish Granted at Commencement
The Office of Integrated Marketing Communications developed a media relations plan around a very special commencement moment: 99-year-old World War II veteran Elizabeth Barker Johnson crossing the stage to accept her degree at the 2019 Commencement ceremony. The resulting media coverage was seen by more than 28 million people across the globe. The total media value for the effort is estimated to exceed $2 million.
About Winston-Salem State University
Winston-Salem State University fosters the creative thinking, analytical problem-solving, and depth of character needed to transform the world. Rooted in liberal education, WSSU’s curriculum prepares students to be thought leaders who have the skills and knowledge needed to develop innovative solutions to complex problems. Founded in 1892, WSSU is a historically Black constituent institution of the University of North Carolina with a rich tradition of contributing to the social, cultural, intellectual, and economic growth of North Carolina, the region and beyond. Guided by the motto, “Enter to Learn, Depart to Serve,” WSSU develops leaders who advance social justice by serving the world with compassion and commitment.