President's Image and Public Relations Council Progress Report

January 2011 October 2011

Chairs: Lisa Baronio, Vice President for Advancement and UNT Foundation Director of Development; Deborah Leliaert, Vice President for University Relations, Communications and Marketing

The President’s Image and Public Relations Council demonstrates President Rawlins’ commitment to facilitate a broad range of ideas and viewpoints to focus and advance the university’s image and reputation, engage our constituents, and build (internally and externally) a broad understanding of and support for the institution and its goals.

The council is pursuing the redevelopment of the university’s brand with the goal of developing an image that’s congruent with UNT’s values, traditions, vision and mission, but also is reflective of UNT’s advances, new assets and aspirations. The process of developing a fresh brand is serving as a catalyst for unifying the campus in its commitment to excellence in academics, the arts and athletics, and offering the best undergraduate experience at a public research university.

UNT’s new branding will be unveiled at an event in early 2012 to launch UNT's new Strategic Plan and brand. The brand will launch with the important objectives of engaging our university community and attracting increasingly more academically talented prospective students (and their parents) and community leaders to the university.

Branding Initiative
In February 2011, the council sponsored a branding seminar conducted by Educational Marketing Group to ensure a shared understanding of brand and image building and the work ahead among members of the council and its work groups and the university’s leadership.

The council advanced recommendations to the President’s Finance Council for a budget to create and implement the new brand platform, including funds to conduct an internal engagement study, hire an external firm to help with the branding, and implement the associated rollout and advertising plans.

The council’s internal UNT Engagement Study, which identified the shared values and aspirations of the university’s students and faculty and staff members and serves as a cornerstone of the branding campaign.

In March 2011, the council advanced a Branding Initiative Request for Proposals, which netted 37 competitive responses from regional and national firms. The initiative contains four components, as follows:

  • Brand platform development and implementation in progress and will be ongoing
  • Football stadium promotions and marketing completed
  • Evaluation and plan development of new and social media pending platform for messaging
  • Evaluation and plan development for news services pending platform for messaging

A thorough RFP evaluation process resulted in the selection of Dallas-based SullivanPerkins in June 2011 to assist the university in a collaborative process leading to the development and launch of a new brand platform.

The university and SullivanPerkins have embarked on the process of developing a verbal and visual expression for the UNT brand. Following an intensive emersion process, branding concepts developed by the firm are now being tested with various university groups.

Beginning with its launch in early 2012 the new platform will over time be consistently incorporated into every possible university communication and experience touch point.

The university’s goal is to have a comprehensive brand platform that:

  • Is authentic to our unique culture and identity (can be “owned” by our university)
  • Is compelling and engaging to internal and external stakeholders
  • Differentiates UNT from its competitors
  • Advances the institution in mindshare and market share

SullivanPerkins also will serve to develop and execute materials for the public phase of UNT’s Comprehensive Campaign.

The council’s Institutional Brand and Image Work Group made recommendations that served as the basis of the Brand Initiative RFP and has participated in branding work sessions.

Apogee Stadium
The RFP evaluation process also resulted in the selection of three vendors Brand Era, Old Hat Creative and Weber Shandwick to assist the Department of Athletics in marketing UNT’s new Apogee Stadium to achieve strong season ticket sales and game attendance. The work of the firms, under the department’s direction, included logo development; print, billboard and broadcast advertisements; direct mail; publications; social and web marketing; news promotion; regional engagement events, such as the Coach’s Caravan; and, inaugural in-stadium events.

The council advanced recommendations to the President’s Finance Council for a marketing and advertising budget to fund the aforementioned work and the expansion of Department of Athletics’ ticket and promotion staff to manage increased public interest.

The council’s Inaugural-Year-of-the-Stadium Work Group advanced recommendations to the full council and developed ideas for Athletics to increase campus-wide and external engagement and some were executed by the department.

Community Engagement
The council submitted to the President’s Office for consideration a request for funds to launch local community engagement activities within defined geographic areas. The recommended budget included three staff members and travel expenses, with the proposed positions reporting to the Office of the President. The initiative was intended to establish UNT as the “go-to” university for events, resources, education and support for persons within the defined area. The timing of this submission coincidentally coincided with the creation of the Vice President for University and Community Affairs. A fuller plan and its execution will become the work of the new President's Community Engagement Council.

The "Go-To" University Work Group developed the plan for submission to the council and obtained conducted the demographic, population and projected growth research that is the basis of the plan.

Visitor’s Center
In August 2011, the Council also made a recommendation that URCM advance to the President’s Capital Projects Council the creation of a freestanding Visitor’s Center.

Council’s Work Groups
The council’s members and some non-council faculty and staff members work in groups to identify initiatives and develop associated goals/objectives, strategies and success measures. The work groups provide progress reports to the council (as a whole) for feedback and to determine which recommendations or initiatives of the working groups overlap and where greater collaboration is needed within this council and with other presidential councils. The work groups also make recommendations to the council and others for action.

At a recent council meeting, the council decided:

  • Institutional Brand and Image Work Group will remain intact to identify and make recommendations to advance the brand and reputation of the university, regionally and nationally.
  • "Go-to" University Work Group is no longer essential with the advent of the President’s Community Engagement Council, this work group. Therefore, the original group will no longer be convened. Instead, in cooperation with other of the president’s councils, including the Enrollment, Diversity and Community Engagement councils, the Image and Public Relations Council hopes to launch an Outreach Work Group. Leadership of the three councils met in November to begin discussions on how to implement the Council’s recommendation.
  • Inaugural Year-of-the-Stadium Work Group will become the Stadium Engagement Work Group to make recommendations for the stadium as an entertainment and engagement venue and to drive future game attendance.
  • Alumni Engagement Work Group will be launched as a new group at a near future date to make recommendations about how to increase the engagement of alumni. Council members are identifying prospective members for this work group.

Regular Divisional/Departmental Updates
The council determined that it should have regular updates about the activities and accomplishments of:

  • Division of Advancement and the Comprehensive Campaign
  • Department of Athletics
  • Department of Trademark and Licensing (based in URCM, is a collaboration of the division and the Department of Athletics)
  • Division of University Relations, Communications and Marketing



Other Councils and Council reports