The McDonough School of Business won six awards for its marketing and communications campaigns in the Higher Education Marketing Report’s 31st Annual Educational Advertising Awards published March 1.
The recognitions included two Gold Awards for the Global Business Initiative Brochure and the MSB’s Instagram account, a Silver Award for MSB’s website, two Bronze Awards for the Steers Center for Global Real Estate Video and Undergraduate Program Admissions Viewbook and a Merit Award for Georgetown Business Magazine’s Fall 2015 issue.
According to Chris M. Kormis, associate dean and chief marketing officer, the MSB aims to convey its mission to a wide audience, and receiving awards for their communications efforts reinforces their success in achieving that goal.
“It’s an honor to be recognized for our communications efforts,” Kormis said. “Our goal is to raise the visibility of Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business to all of its audiences … everything we do and produce is aimed at reaching that goal. It’s an extra bonus when an organization recognizes our work with awards.”
Kormis said the MSB brands itself as a premier destination for global business education by featuring the school’s students and faculty on its website, social media accounts, publications and other marketing platforms.
“We aim to communicate Georgetown McDonough’s mission, which is to educate and develop principled leaders with a global mindset to be in service to business and society,” Kormis said. “We often demonstrate our mission by sharing the stories of our students, faculty, and alumni through all of our communications channels.”
Of the 2,000 entries spanning 33 distinct categories, between 5 to 7 percent attain the highest distinction, the Gold Award. Higher Education Marketing Report Publisher, Jan Lok explained that entries are evaluated by a national panel of judges comprised of the Atlanta-based publication’s editorial staff, seasoned creative directors and marketing professionals from across the country.
“It’s really about what the overall impact each item had,” Lok said. “Each judge is going to come out with a different perspective, but they’re looking at it based on what they see in other marketing endeavors, and then, their own feel and their own flavor for what they’re seeing, what they think the strategy is and what they think the response will be from the prospective target audience.”
According to Lok, higher educational marketing campaigns differ from other forms of advertising because the target audience — prospective students — is smaller and more narrowly-focused.
“The biggest function is directed toward the enrollment capacity,” Lok said. “However, the overall growth and development in marketing in the education field has expanded beyond just the admissions function. It goes toward marketing their athletic endeavors, their foundation and fundraising endeavors, their community development, their image — it could even include the efforts to lobby for support from governmental organizations.
Director of the MSB’s Global Business Initiative Ricardo Ernst said the Gold Award-wining brochure, which featured a sleekly elegant design and an unfurling world map of students’ international business ventures in the centerfold, was emblematic of his program’s brand. However, Ernst also said the brochure posed challenges as a result of its high costs and inflexibility with changing information.
“It’s not only a very nice brochure in terms of the composition and balance, but most importantly it conveys the message it wants to convey,” Ernst said. “The McDonough School of Business would like to be the premier destination for Global Business Education, so through the brochure we want to deliver the message and the award shows that from the perspective of people who objectively look at these brochures, we were able to reach that objective.”
Valeria Bellagamba, associate dean for academic and global operations, estimated that over 4,000 of these brochures were distributed to prospective students, alumni and clients for the Global Business Initiative. She initially conceived of the idea to incorporate a map in the brochure and developed the idea with Assistant Director of Data Management and Global Operations, Wilbert Hidalgo, who created its first design.
“We want to show the world who we are, and if you’re all about global business, you should come to Georgetown,” Bellagamba said. “When you think of a school that is very top-notch, you think Wharton, but what we’re trying to show that Georgetown is just like that but with global business.”
The MSB won both a Gold Award and a Silver Award for its Instagram account, validating the business school’s commitment to maintaining a digital presence as part of its marketing strategy. According to Kormis, the MSB’s marketing efforts are based on analytic observations of the types of media to which their target audience responds.
“We highly value the reach, impact, and measurement abilities of digital communications. We live in a digital-first society, and as such, at Georgetown McDonough we dedicate resources to continually communicate via digital … Using analytics, we can observe what kinds of news and information people like to consume,” Kormis said.
Lok said the social media and digital categories of the competition represent the newest frontiers in educational advertising, transforming the criteria for competitors every year.
“Obviously, the more traditional forms of advertising are changing, where there used to be a lot of newspaper and magazine advertising and now that is a very small category relatively speaking,” Lok said. “The biggest areas of development are the digital marketing areas, the social media, the new media, the mobile media, all those areas.”
Rahul Desai (MSB ’16) was featured on McDonough’s Gold Award-winning Instagram as part of the #MyHoyaMoment campaign, which presented upperclassmen reflecting on their experiences at the business school. Desai said the campaign was particularly effective at incorporating user-generated content.
“I think it’s particularly clever, because that is something they teach you in marketing or if you ever work on a social media-based company, you learn user-generated content is so key,” Desai said. “It’s not Georgetown bragging ‘Oh, we’re so great.’ Instead, it’s this [student] saying ‘Oh, we’re so great.’”
In his profile for the campaign, Desai stressed his individuality — a defining characteristic which he said would represent the school well to prospective students and other onlookers.
“I talked about how Georgetown taught me to consider multiple arguments and viewpoints at once, which I think is a skill lacking in the world these days, and I tried to be very different from what other people would say,” Desai said. “I think this is what I described — I’m a regular person who Georgetown helped make great.”