UM-Flint Brand, Marketing, and Communication Update | February 2010

New Projects, New Audiences, New Ideas

One of the best things about marketing and communication is that you never know exactly where the creative process will lead or what other useful discoveries will be made along the way.

umflint.edu/growing

We reported on one such “eureka” moment last month while developing this year’s “At a Glance” statistical overview, when it was discovered that UM-Flint is the fastest growing public university in the state.

Certainly a message worth employing to maximum effect, UR devoted an entire creative meeting to brainstorming and strategizing ways to best utilize and promote this fact. UR decided to make this “Fastest Growing” message the cornerstone of this spring’s print and billboard campaigns. While we’re still exploring the visual idea to accompany the claim, we have decided to create a webpage that will provide additional information and explanation about the nature and meaning of this trend. The website www.umflint.edu/growing will be prominently featured in both the print and billboard concepts. UR encourages all faculty, staff, and students with ideas and insights about UM-Flint’s growth to email your thoughts to ur@umflint.edu.

The Total Package

Earlier this winter, UR met with the Academic Advising and Career Center to discuss ways in which we could better communicate the quality and caliber of our graduates to potential employers. This project, perhaps overdue, is exciting and meaningful for several reasons. It will be a direct communication to what amounts to a new audience for the university: business owners. And it forces us to consider more directly how UM-Flint’s academic excellence translates to post-graduate excellence.

It was decided that what Advising needed first and foremost was a print piece they could put in the hands of those they invite to campus career fairs, as well as those business owners they meet at various other conferences and events.

From a creative standpoint, the challenge was not so much in finding the proof that UM-Flint graduates are valuable additions to organizations across all industries. Rather, it was developing a structure through which that bountiful evidence could be relayed in a memorable way. After all, business owners are a busy bunch, who are often given dazzling brochures trying to convince them of one thing or another. As a result, the piece had to be professional, prestigious, and presented with their point-of-view in mind. Yet it also could not sound or appear too “businessy,” too typical, too ignorable, too “lost in the shuffle.”

Though a bit formulaic, the idea we went with is “UM-Flint Graduates: The Total Package.” Visually, the “T” in “Total” was emphasized, and the proof of this claim that followed on interior spreads was packaged under other “T”-word headings (Talent, Tested, Teachers, Tech-Savvy, Tradition of Research, etc.) Corresponding examples of the people and projects that reflect these ideals also appear on each spread.

Again, the reason for this rigid, if slightly pedestrian, structure for touting the relevant skills and experiences of our grads was the understanding of busy employers’ time-restraints and sensibilities. It needed to be thorough, impressive, and quickly communicated. We think we’ve achieved that goal. And as a result of having gone through the process, UR will be better able to develop effective communications to this important audience moving forward.

High School Focus Groups: Powerful Insights

UR staffers continue their tours of southeastern Michigan high schools, discovering a wide variety of opinions on marketing and communication messages and images. On a recent trip to Utica High School, students were surprised to learn that UM-Flint existed! They eagerly held onto the viewbooks we brought, and asked lots of questions about the campus.

Another group of Flint-based high school students who were familiar with UM-Flint emphasized that instead of referring to Flint as a “College Town,” we should really describe it as an “emerging College Town.”

Focus group trips have taken place here on campus, as well as in the Oxford, Davison, Utica, and Frankenmuth school districts. If you know a teacher in an area high school who is willing to donate 30 minutes of class time for a focus group session, please contact Alaina Wiens in UR to coordinate.

Look for a full report on all focus group results in the April edition of the UR Blog.

Marketing Strategies

Part of the strategy with the UM-Flint image awareness campaign is making sure the brand stays strong. Having a strong brand that is reinforced visually and with powerful language is an asset in places (such as parts of southeastern Michigan) that have never heard of the University of Michigan-Flint. A key tool in reinforcing the brand image is prominent logo placement and effective use of university colors, whether it is in a print ad or on the website. With that in mind, much of the month was spent strategizing the look, tone, and content for various ads for print, billboards, and other media.

In addition to billboards, television, newspapers, and social networks, UR is launching a new image campaign. A new contract has been signed for advertisements in Genesee Valley Mall. These large-scale ads at one of the top destinations in the county will reinforce the image of the university with its target audiences.

Trademark: Learn to Love the Look

The Office of General Counsel in Ann Arbor has clarified the policy regarding trademarks for any official University of Michigan logo, including the University of Michigan-Flint logo. To more clearly protect our trademark rights, the proper trademark notation should be included on all materials.  This means using the Circle R (®), given that the Block M is itself federally registered with the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office.

The bottom line is simply this: there is no UM-Flint logo other than the one with the registered trademark symbol.

Here is the link regarding this information: http://www.umflint.edu/urel/logos.php

Website Update

After reviewing and processing the feedback received on the UM-Flint homepage template, final tweaks are being completed. An email with the final version of the new homepage will be sent to the campus community in April.

Traffic to the UM-Flint website continues at a strong pace. Check out the Google Analytics report for February to see the growth.

As we move toward a redesign of the university website, University Relations is meeting with departments across campus. This month we began the evaluation process with Graduate Programs, the Office of Extended Learning, and the International Center. Moving forward, we will work with these departments to better their online content and structure.

UM-Flint Google Analytics – Februrary

Social Media Facts and Figures

Our Audience:

· The UM-Flint Twitter page (@umflint) had 358 followers as of March 3.

· In February, UM-Flint’s Facebook fan page gained 187 fans (up to 2,739 from 2,552). Our current fan base includes users from 20 different countries. Our largest audience is 18-24-year-olds.

· As of March 3, the UM-Flint YouTube channel’s videos had been viewed over 27,000 times. The video with the most views was the 30-second commercial with 1,582 views.

Our Reach:

In the world of social media, successful communication is interactive. Our aim is not merely to send users a message, but to engage and involve them. The best messages are those which are spread beyond our immediate audience.

· On Twitter, the tweet with the highest “unique readers reach” had 861 unique readers, with retweets of “Last date to drop classes without a signed petition is Friday, February 26, 5 pm.”

· The highest number of “interactions per post” on Facebook was 8.4 on February 15.

· The highest number of “ total interactions” in one day on Facebook was 66 on February 9, the day of the T-shirt design poll.

Moving Forward:

We are always looking for ways to engage more users online. In future months, watch for graphic improvements to the university’s Facebook fan page and ways for users to interact there. We also hope to build our follower base on Twitter, and continue to increase our online video exposure.

Creative Momentum: Graphics

The UR Creative Team continues to be busy with multiple requests for marketing projects. Below is a summary of the graphics requests received in February and the various projects that are underway.

Month

Requested

Completed

Canceled

% for Completions

# of Departments

February, 2010

16

13

1

81%

8

Brand Concepts:

Office of Extended Learning/ LCC design look

“Imagine” and “Imagination” concepts for Development & Alumni Relations

Clothing concepts for Events & Building Services and the university bookstore

Grad and University billboard campaigns

“Fastest Growing public university in the state” concepts

Updated the University Overview piece and made it more robust

Departments worked with:

Graduate Programs

Undergraduate Admissions

Event & Building Services

Division of Student Affairs

College of Arts and Sciences

University Bookstore

Academic Advising & Career Center

Office of Extended Learning

Chancellor’s Office

Media Relations Report

Media Relations activities continued at their normally busy pace. Two student groups were the focus of heavy media attention in February. The nursing students headed to the Dominican Republic were featured in a series of live shots on ABC 12. The UM-Flint Chamber Singers and their trip to the Pentagon were featured in most Flint media. The story about the snow storm that cancelled that trip was also covered extensively. The Chamber Singers made their way to the Pentagon to perform on March 25.

Faculty experts were part of the local news landscape in February. ABC 12 interviewed professors Al Price and Marcus Paroske about Governor Granholm’s State of the State Address. Those interviews were used in newscasts as well as on their public affairs program Newsmaker.

The recent establishment of a social networking newsroom is beginning to pay dividends. Through the use of PitchEngine, a UM-Flint news site was set up to distribute news releases to a broader audience. Web site counters recorded over 450 viewers in February.

Press Releases (written /edited/distributed): 18

Verified stories in all media: 47 (does not include all multiple stories used on morning or noon television newscasts)

Newspaper coverage: 518 ad inches

Community Relations Activities

Numerous meetings have taken place with outside community groups. Once again, UM-Flint will sponsor the Flint Institute of Music’s “Summer in the Parks” program. The concert by Cadillac Flash during the Back to the Bricks event in August will be sponsored by the university. Also, an exciting new initiative with the Crim Festival of Races is going to take place. Look for an announcement on that news in April.

Other community events on the horizon include: Earth Day and Recycling Competition between MCC, Baker, Kettering, and UM-Flint, Critical Issues Forum, Bookstore Grand-re-opening, and Spring Commencement.

Community Relations Activities – February 2010

Summary

Community Events & Sponsorships

5

Community Requests Received

2

Community Events Worked On

6

Community Meetings Attended

6

Campus Events Worked On

6

Campus Events Meetings Attended

8

Organizations/Partnerships working with

28

Addy Award Results

UM-Flint had a very successful showing at the annual Flint Addy Awards on February 27!

First, students from the Communication & Visual Arts department won multiple awards.  The work of our students was so outstanding that the judges insisted a student Best of Show award be given, which has never happened before.  It was an impressive array of talent, and much credit really goes to the faculty, especially Janet Lorch, who is a superb mentor to these students.  All of the gold-ADDY-winning work will go on to compete regionally.  In addition, UM-Flint student Paige Plant was given a scholarship from the ADDY organization.

Janet Lorch and Jan Worth-Nelson were honored for the self-study piece.  They won a silver ADDY for their work, and it is well-deserved.

The highlight of the night was when a silver ADDY was awarded to the UM-Flint video featuring Chris Waters and her paintings of the city of Flint. The room fell silent as the video played, with Chris describing how she sees the city from the top of the Northbank Center.  Her story was so moving, and people were clearly touched by how she described the city.

Finally, University Relations won several awards, including four gold ADDYs—Two for the undergraduate recruitment package, including a separate one for the viewbook, one for the limited edition black t-shirt of the university and city, and one for the :30 second commercial we produced last year.  In fact, the :30 commercial was named Best of Show.

Congratulations to all!