Alumni engagement is measured through sustained interest, involvement and/or investment in alma mater. Social media presents an opportunity to engage with alumni with low stakes and establish cross-generational connections through shared experience.
The association’s goal was simple: increase engagement on Instagram. This idea was successful because we focused on the why – why would an OHIO alum care to post about us, tag us, or engage with our content? The answer for me was Homecoming. The annual celebration at OHIO is like nothing else I’ve ever seen. Bobcats show up by the thousands, a little bit for football, but mostly because of the way they feel when they are back on campus. The energy is palpable, the memories are visceral, and of course, the drinks are flowing.
I knew that if we could find a way to translate that experience even slightly to our online audiences, they would be ecstatic to go back into a Bobcat state of mind and feel part of the party.
Inspired by Ernest Hemmingway’s six-word story, the #OHIO6Words instagram campaign called for participants to share their own six-word story on Instagram, coupled with an image that represented their OHIO experience. Winners were selected each day of Homecoming Week to be featured on the main @OHIOAlumni Instagram channel and were mailed various Bobcat swag for their engagement.
The outcomes far exceeded engagement goals, and received international recognition from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE). It received the Silver Award in the category ‘Best Uses of Social Media for Alumni Relations,’ which recognizes innovative uses of new media by educational institutions across the globe.
Role call: Concept development by Katrina Heilmeier, Kate Erlewine and Hailee Tavoian. Campaign writing by Hailee Tavoian. Social media deployment by Kate Erlewine. In-person displays by Katrina Heilmeier.
This project was such a pleasure to produce. Our goal was to work with a student poet to fuse together their experience with words from iconic OHIO songs in a message of gratitude for alumni support. What resulted was beyond my expectations, thanks in large part to the tremendous talent of our subject and writer Yaphet Jackman.
Through audio challenges, script drafting, equipment limitations and a tight timeline, my small team was able to achieve our mission under budget without compromising quality. The piece was received with high praise by alumni across the globe, which prompted a screening during the Ohio University Board of Trustees meeting by special request from the University President Roderick McDavis.
Role call: Words and performance by Yaphet Jackman. Storyboard, production, and art direction by Hailee Tavoian. Editing and assistant production by Jarrett Lehman. Concept development by Jennifer Bowie and Hailee Tavoian.
“Hailee is a multifaceted titan with a humble heart of gold. My time with her has shown me her great attention to detail, reservoir of patience and her ability to remain calm and focused in high stress situations. Her kind spirit is an asset as a team player and leader.”
Online retail sales have exploded over the past decade, causing brands with primarily brick and mortar establishments to adapt in order to remain competitive. Our goal for The Bobcat Store was to conduct robust audience research to inform the development of a new logo, style guide and marketing strategy that balanced customer needs with store goals.
My small team analyzed website traffic, sales numbers, email response rates and social media engagement, and combed through peer and competitor online retail websites to complete a thematic analysis of existing brand overlap and niche insights. Using the existing data as a benchmark, we then collected audience feedback through a combination of in-depth interviews and customer surveys. Questions focused mainly on consumer behaviors, website functionality, website personality, and purchasing preferences.
Armed with the meaningful audience research conducted during discovery, my art director and I set to work developing The Bobcat Store Audience Research and Analysis Report, which contained all data collected, as well as a comprehensive thematic analysis and specific, actionable strategies for the new brand.
In addition to the final report, deliverables included a new logo, style guide, website with new product photography and content on every page, brand positioning statement and adjectives, and design templates for email, social media, print advertising, and packaging.
Role call: Audience research, analysis, strategy and brand development by Hailee Tavoian and Kailee Slusser. Visual brand, logo, photography and web design by Kailee Slusser. Website build by Neil Mohr. Brand deployment by Kate Robey, Michele Frick and Kyle Lindner.
College campuses surge with activism and dialogue when national issues of the day arise, and Ohio University is no exception. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, unrest regarding race, gender, and war shook the small college town in the Appalachian foothills. This tumult, a microcosm of American society at the time, spurred dramatic change toward inclusivity and altered the lives of OHIO students then and today.
This era of disruption and growth was of particular interest to two-time OHIO graduate Frank Robinson, MA ’93, PHD ’00, whose dissertation explored issues facing women at OHIO in the 1960s-70s by interviewing 38 individuals who lived them.
Today, 50 years since their experiences on campus and 20 years since Robinson’s interviews, three of his subjects—all of whom played unique roles in the feminist movement at OHIO—reflected on the still unfinished arc of women’s progress.
“We thought when we opened the door it would all work out, but we underestimated how deep the resentment is toward strong women,” says Beverly Jones, BSJ ’69, MBA ’75, the first female admitted to OHIO’s MBA program. “There are still a lot of men who don’t like to see women succeed, and in some cases the women in their lives feel the same way.”
During the late ’60s, gendered rules of conduct on campus were barriers for equal treatment. For instance, there were curfew hours and dress codes, and women were permitted to smoke only so long as they remained seated. Of course, none of these rules applied to men.
“The standards were so different for men and women, and no one questioned it,” Anne Goff, BA ’69, MED ’71, recalled with Robinson in 1998. “It was silly, but I don’t remember being too enraged over it.”
En Loco Parentus, the idea that the University act in the place of parents to protect its students, was accepted at the time. Jones suggested that it was OHIO’s intent to prepare young women for the pressure they would be under in the workforce.
“These rules for behavior were very common in adult life,” Jones says. “Women had to have a certain level of polish in order to even get into the room, and employers were looking for someone who knew how to be a lady.”
Change was imminent, however. Jones and Goff founded the Women’s Information Group (WIG), which gathered young women who had almost no female role models in positions of leadership on campus, to discuss women’s issues.
While women across campus eagerly joined to civilly dialogue about books and theories, the assembly seemed to make some men on campus uneasy.
“They would look at us as a guerilla group; it amused us terrifically,” Jones remembered in 1998. “I knew there were guys waking up in the middle of the night thinking, ‘Oh my God, what are these women going to do?’ It was all bluff really—but perception is reality. We recognized it as a tool we could use to get something symbolic done fast.”
Jones sought change at the highest levels of the administration, eventually publishing at President Sowle’s request the Report on the Status of Women at Ohio University, 1972, which documented many of the inequalities of the time and influenced significant changes on campus: increased funding for women’s athletics, re-admittance of women to the marching band, and changes in attitude toward women students, faculty, and staff.
Today, President M. Duane Nellis has formed the Presidential Commission on the Status of Women, which began meeting this fall, to ensure that gender diversity and women’s issues remain at the forefront of the University’s mission.
Susan Reimer, BSJ ’73, covered all sides of women’s issues as a writer for The Post. When she started her career as a sports writer just as women were first allowed to conduct interviews in the locker room, she found her own tactics for breaking through that industry’s gender barriers.
“Clothing is camouflage,” Reimer says. “[In my role], the players resented our being there; so, I dressed like a boy. That way I could be mistaken for just another guy or at least it would be clear that there was no chance that I was there to flirt.”
All women engaged with the feminist movement differently. Some found the companionship and support of likeminded women overruled feelings of insecurity or fear. Others were simply wired for the resiliency that the spirit of feminism demands.
“I’ve always felt like I belonged, like I deserved a seat at the table,” Reimer says. “I’ve lived with my elbows out, and I never allowed a feeling of second-class citizenship to permeate me.”
Yet today, as these three OHIO women reflect on half a century of progress and setbacks, the importance of unity and support remains clear.
“When we started reaching out to others [to form WIG], it was transformational,” says Goff. “You have to find a collection of people that will understand where you are coming from and have your back.”
The article above was received with high praise cross-generationally.
From my experience with this project I learned the back-end preparation and technical aspects of podcast production during our collaboration with the National Press Club to record the audio interview, and the complexities of adapting story format for various mediums. It was a challenge to take on such a robust topic with many facets and opportunities and develop a meaningful narrative using only a fraction of the information gathered.
On a personal note, it was my sincere pleasure to speak with and learn from the lives of these remarkable women who have laid a foundation for my generation of journalists and activists to build upon.
Role call: Story by Hailee Tavoian. Content development and audio interview by Kelee Riesbeck. Editing and preliminary research by Pete Schooner. Photos courtesy of Ohio University Archives and Photo by Susana Raab.
Elusive behaviors of transient customers frequently leave marketers and the businesses they serve scratching their heads. This is why business owners often stick to targeting marketing efforts toward the most engaged customer. After all, that is the personality type you know the best. In many industries 80% of sales come from 20% of your audience. For some, this is enough. But not for me.
I want to know how that momentary customer found us, what they thought of the product and their experience, and why they haven’t been back since. Through effective research and the establishment of audience personas, businesses can understand the complexities of their customer base, and expand their reach into secondary audiences, all while continuing to keep that 20% “in the tent” base happy.
The visuals below showcase one of six personas developed for the OHIO Alumni Association. In partnership with Ologie, our team conducted pioneering, robust, qualitative and quantitative research to section and articulate audience groups, as well as identify attitudinal and behavioral elaboration likelihood for each type.
What resulted was a greater understanding about primary and secondary audiences, as well as actionable marketing and programatic formulas for more effective segmentation and measurable engagement.
Final deliverables for the project include six audience personas with robust trait analysis, key characteristics, statistics, lifestyle and online behavioral preferences, propensity for engagement and giving, and corresponding opportunities, roadblocks, sample engagement scenarios, journey mapping and conversion pipelines.
The project has been used to inform future strategy and brand evolution, and enables more deliberate content development with greater audience awareness.
From the experience I learned to collaborate effectively with agency partners, as neither of us had undertaken this type of project or something to this scale before. It is unique to be on the cusp of applying what you know to be marketing best practice to an industry like higher education.
It was a project that took a great deal of time and energy, and much of the work is unseen (as strategy work often is). I was fortunate to have such a professional, energetic team of creative professionals to work with, and in the end the visualization and final report made all the difference to administrative buy-in and support of our efforts.
Role call: Audience Research conducted by Ologie, Jennifer Bowie, Hailee Tavoian. Synthesis, Content Development and Segmentation Strategy by Hailee Tavoian, Kailee Slusser, Jennifer Bowie. Original Illustrations developed in-house by Kyle Lindner.