Reflections on Winning (and Not Winning) Awards

Last week, the Pride of Case V awards were announced. John Carroll University won 2 silver awards. One for our alumni magazine, and one for our student mentorship program, on which my marketing team collaborated with our Alumni office.

Screenshot 2015-11-02 11.52.47The Mentoring system is pretty cool. It allows our students to log in, and browse alumni who have submitted their information and have offered to become mentors. It’s not life-long mentoring, it can be as easy as answering an email inquiry from a student. Nearly a year into it, we’ve got over 250 mentors who have volunteered their time and energy. That’s awesome.

What’s awesome for me is the technology that powers this. Hint: it’s WordPress. Well, WordPress but specifically BuddyPress that is the mechanism for our students to login and search for a mentor. BuddyPress made it easy for us to get this up and running quickly, and a custom post type for Mentors made it easy to search and organize by industry, interest, and career level.

I’m proud of my marketing and creative teams and it’s always good to work with our friends in Alumni Relations. I like when challenges like this are thrown at us and we have to come up with a creative solution. I’m lucky to have an amazing team and great colleagues.

While it’s always nice to win, sometimes you submit projects and you don’t win. Last December, we drove around Cleveland surprising students with their acceptance packets. It was an amazing experience – and I think we captured that pretty well on video. We didn’t win in the video categories this year,  but I think it’s easily in the top 5 things I’ve done in my career. Ever. Here’s the video:

Awards are a funny thing, sometimes. I think sometimes they’re looked at with indifference by some areas on a campus, but for us marketers, they can be important tools.

They can often show others on campus, or those in administrative positions, the value of the work, and help show that the work we are doing is of a high enough quality to be recognized by our peers and colleagues. This can be important if you’re facing pressure when it comes to quality, asking for more resources, or trying to tamp down the constant threat of outsourcing creative and design work1.

These awards also serve as a great way of recognizing the team. I could go on for years about how underpaid folks are in higher ed, and while this doesn’t put cash in someone’s pocket, it’s a nice pick-me-up when work is recognized and appreciated externally.

1. I am not against outsourcing creative and design work. We do a large amount of outsourcing. I mean more the wholesale outsourcing of all marketing work and disregarding the in-house team.