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University of Southern Mississippi

2011 SAWIB WinnerCompany: University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS U.S.A
Entry Submitted By: GodwinGroup
Company Description: Founded in 1910, The University of Southern Mississippi is a comprehensive doctoral and research-driven university with a proud history and an eye on the future. In just 100 years, Southern Miss has grown from a small teachers' college into a premier research university with a national reputation for excellence in both academics and athletics.
Nomination Category: Communications & Marketing Awards Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Communications or PR Campaign of the Year - Community Relations

Nomination Title: The Southern Miss Story: Enriching a University Brand through a Centennial Celebration

In up to 500 words, tell the judges about the nominated campaign: its genesis, development, planning, commission, and performance to date:

The University of Southern Mississippi seized on it impending 2010 centennial anniversary as an opportunity to enrich its brand, reinforce relationships with key publics and celebrate a rich past while turning the focus to its future. With an overall goal of increased engagement among target audiences through “telling our story,” the university employed integrated strategies successfully to create awareness of its strengths, raise its national profile, and increase private giving, alumni membership and enrollment. Despite tough economic times, the campaign rallied the spirit of the university community and positioned the Southern Miss brand for the next level of national prominence.

Campaign planners identified the following measurable objectives: Create awareness of the history and rich traditions of the university among target audience members by December 2010 as measured by pre-and post-Centennial surveys. Increase national media coverage of the university by 20% as of December 2010. Increase website traffic by 20% by December 2010. Increase membership in the Alumni Association to 20,000 by December 2010. Generate donations of $1,000,000 for the Centennial Scholarship by December 2010. Increase freshman enrollment by 6% from fall 2007 to fall 2010. An overall budget of $477,000 came from university support ($312,000), corporate sponsorships ($135,000) and the Southern Miss Alumni Association ($30,000).


Campaign Tactics: Visual Brand: Logo; Brand Standards; Website; Brand Videos Featured Events: Renée Fleming – The Voice of the Century, who sang in a concert with the Southern Miss Symphony Orchestra; Founders’ Day/Centennial Celebration Day; The Big Event (community service day); Centennial Commencement Celebration; Centennial Arts Gala; Affinity Group Reunions; Centennial Homecoming; Centennial Lecture featuring Madeleine Albright Exhibits and Structures: Centennial Exhibit in the city library; Centennial Museum in university library; 100 Alumni Museum of Art Exhibit; Centennial Sculpture Celebration; Centennial Gateway (brick and mortar giving opportunity) Initiatives: Centennial Scholarship Endowment Fund; Alumni Centennial Membership Campaign Publications: The Talon (alumni magazine) Centennial edition; Centennial Drawl (handbook of history & traditions); Centennial History book, authored by a noteworthy historian Advertising: Centennial Gold Ad Campaign; Advertorial; Student newspaper double truck(s); Black and Gold banners on campuses; Black and Gold banners along city highways; Advertising in targeted national publications; Billboard campaigns in selected cities; “The Southern Miss Story” presidential tour; I Belong Campaign; Centennial Birthday Cards Promotional Items: Centennial Coke bottle; Centennial pins; stickers; medallions (for 2010 graduates); Coloring books; cups/can holders


We credit integrated internal and external strategies for the positive results. The program exceeded all objectives: Awareness of history and rich traditions showed positive change in all categories over pre-Centennial benchmarks. National media coverage increased 838% (from 13 national hits in 2007-8 to 122 in 2009-10). Website traffic increased by 107% by December, 2010. Alumni Association membership grew to 21,088 (1,088 more than 20,000 goal). Centennial Scholarship donations totaled $3.9 million in December of 2010 ($2.9 million more than $1 million goal). Freshmen enrollment increased by 14% (exceeded goal of 6%).

List the URLs (web addresses) of any online news stories, press releases, work samples, videos, photographs, or other supporting materials that you would like the judges to see. IMPORTANT: List each URL on a separate line, begin each URL with http://, and enclose each URL in square brackets. For example, []:

Provide a brief biography of the person or persons who lead the team that created and carried out the nominated communications campaign (up to 100 words):

Dr. Martha D. Saunders is the ninth president of The University of Southern Mississippi in Hattiesburg, Miss. She took office on May 21, 2007.Throughout her 30-year career in higher education, Dr. Saunders has taught thousands of students. Her philosophy of education follows three simple guiding principles: know your students, connect them to bigger things and set a good example.

Dr. Saunders' experience in the field of communication led to numerous publications on crisis communication and public relations; widely anthologized published speeches and national awards.