CASE III honors MSU Public Affairs office with ‘Grand’ awards

Contact: Harriet Laird

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STARKVILLE, Miss.--Mississippi State University’s Office of Public Affairs is the recipient of two top honors from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education District III.

Competing against 125 public and private higher education institutions in nine southern states, OPA garnered “Grand” awards in the organization’s annual competition that recognizes the best work among development, alumni and communications/marketing professionals.

MSU President Mark Keenum said the CASE III awards presented to OPA represented a “significant win for the entire university.”

“Back in 2013, we gathered as a university leadership team with representatives of our foundation and alumni leaders to craft a vision for raising the national profile of Mississippi State as a leading research university,” said Keenum. “This peer university recognition of the resulting ‘We Ring True’ branding campaign validates the hard work of that group in achieving a vision that is producing tangible results in both national awareness and enrollment growth.”

The first place honors in Branding/Identity Program and External Communications Program were presented this month during CASE III’s annual conference in Nashville, Tennessee. In the branding category, MSU topped the University of Georgia (second) and Elon University (third); and in external communications, MSU edged out Virginia Tech (second) and Florida State University (third).

Sid Salter, MSU’s chief communications officer and OPA director, said, “These awards speak to how our OPA team’s efforts in advancing Mississippi State have performed in competition with our peers across the Southeast. We’ve had remarkable support from our university leadership and are grateful for the collaboration with the many talented marketing and communications professionals across our campus. It’s evident that working together enhances the university’s reputation and image.”

OPA’s entry in the branding/identity category highlighted the university’s aggressive and broad-based integrated public relations and marketing program, including a comprehensive employee initiative, content-rich social media strategy, and vibrant news bureau. The external communication’s entry was a component of the branding campaign that included national advertising in such publications as the Chronicle of Higher Education, engaging social media content, and direct mail communications targeted to peer institutions.

“Since launching the branding initiative in October of 2015, the university has seen increases in image, employee pride and reputation for academic excellence,” Salter said.

MSU also has risen nationally as one of America’s Great Colleges to Work For, while reaching prominence in social media performance among higher education institutions across the U.S.

Additionally, OPA brought home a second place honor in the Commercial/PSA category for the nationally televised 30-second spot “We Ring True.” The commercial also is an element of the university’s branding strategy.

Another second place award went to the MSU Alumni Association in the category of Alumni Relations Engagement Project for the successful Black Alumni Weekend event, the first program of its kind held last spring at the university.

CASE is an international professional association serving educational institutions and advancement professionals. CASE District III includes Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

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