Western Carolina’s student recruitment materials, ads capture national honors

CULLOWHEE — Western Carolina University’s recent student recruitment efforts are not only winning over prospective students and their parents, but also are winning awards from national higher education organizations.

Western’s Office of Admissions and Office of Public Information recently received word of two awards from District III of the Council for Advancement and Support of Education, and several top awards in an annual competition sponsored by the Admissions Marketing Report.

Western’s “Power Your Mind” radio advertisement series, produced by ProComm studios in Fletcher, earned a CASE District III “special merit” award in the radio programs and announcements category. CASE is the leading education association for professionals in the field of institutional advancement.

Western’s fall 2000 radio advertising campaign consisted of four radio ads aimed at listeners in several musical categories — alternative rock ‘n’ roll, pop rock, urban/hip-hop and country. Each ad revolved around the student recruitment marketing theme “Power Your Mind.”

One ad, titled “Power Mad,” spoofs a scene from a classic horror movie, with a mad scientist and his assistant working in a laboratory, while another, called “Porsche,” features a young male voice and is accompanied by up-tempo rhythm-and-blues music. Another spot “Knowledge” features a hip young adult voice with a wry sense of humor. The fourth spot, “Modem,” targets older listeners, including parents and teachers, and focuses on many of WCU’s recent innovations in the use of technology in teaching.

In the CASE general news category, the WCU Office of Public Information was awarded for its success in publicizing Western’s Freshman Reading Program. When the campus committee charged with selecting the book for WCU’s 2000 Freshman Reading Program chose the previously unpublished journal written by student Worth Allen, Bill Studenc, news bureau director at WCU, wrote and distributed a news release about the unusual reading selection. The story eventually hit the Associated Press wire service and was picked up by numerous newspapers across the Southeast, and nationally by The Chronicle of Higher Education and The Wall Street Journal.

Westernís recruitment efforts received recognition during the 16th Annual Admissions Advertising Awards presented by the Admissions Marketing Report, with “gold” awards for the “Power Your Mind” radio series and, in the individual ad category, for the “Power Mad” radio ad.

Also winning a “gold” award in the Admissions Marketing Report competition was a concert-style T-shirt designed by Office of Public Information artist/illustrator Darrell Frizsell as part of the “Nature of the Beast” Tour 2000. Western’s “Nature of the Beast” tour also earned a silver award in the category of direct mail advertising, a bronze award for poster design, and a merit award for imprinted material for a keychain design.

For the past three years, one of Western’s major student recruitment activities has been its “Western on Tour” series, in which WCU faculty, staff, students and alumni travel from town to town. The group takes sights and sounds from campus into key cities in a program more reminiscent of music concert tours than the typical college night program, said Thomas Canepa, associate vice chancellor for enrollment management.

The theme for the fall 2000 tour was “Nature of the Beast,” which played on Western’s athletic mascot, the Catamount. The recruitment program attempted to help prospective students understand the nature of the beast known as the Catamount, Canepa said.

Phil Cauley, director of admissions at WCU, said that the new marketing strategies appear to be working. “Freshman applications for fall 2001 enrollment are up 3.25 percent over the same time last year,” Cauley said. “And last year’s freshman enrollment was up about 5 percent over the year before that.”

This marks the second consecutive year that Western’s student recruitment efforts won awards from CASE and the Admissions Marketing Report.