New videos, Instagram posts, and advertisements clearly show that Hillsdale College has hit a new marketing stride in recent years. What’s behind this change?
The Hillsdale Marketing Department has been buzzing with new social media outreach and advertising ideas, painting the campus with a fresh face while preserving the original and irreplaceable mission of the college.
Matt Schlientz, vice president of marketing, framed the mission of the department as a partnership with the entire college.
“The purpose of the marketing department is to help radiate the mission of the college to audiences across the country through multiple mediums and to bring the college to life through strategic and creative content that inspires action,” Schlientz said.
This mission statement outlines the marketing department’s strategy to project the mission of the college through every media platform that they use, while also aiming to inspire action rather than simply providing a one-time experience with Hillsdale. The department, however, would not be able to provide this content without their direct media team.
The creative director for Schlientz’s team is Bryan Springer. Springer started in June 2019, but he isn’t new to the college. Springer spent ten years in the art department as a graphic design professor and works with the creative part of production.
Next is Emily Stack Davis ’05, associate director of media and communications. Stack Davis organizes press release interviews and provides a thorough media relations and public communications strategy while “always advancing the mission of the college,” according to Schlientz.
Ric Tombelli, director of digital marketing, also recently started with the marketing department in July 2019. Tombelli manages digital and social outlook for the college.
Finally, Mark Waters, director of visual media, joined the team back in November 2019, providing new creative vision in the department of visual outreach.
The move from print to digital media outreach has greatly affected the entire department since it began in 2014. In the past six months alone, the marketing department produced dozens of new YouTube videos, including a five-video series titled “Conquering Freshman Year” that features informational videos on health, academic, and career services. The series also includes animated videos highlighting critical aspects of Hillsdale’s mission, such as the freshman pledge, the core curriculum, and the liberal arts. The team even created a highlights video of the Honor Code and its influence on campus culture.
“We were and still are great at print,” Schlientz said. “We’ve been doing Imprimis for 45-plus years as one example. But we need to compliment that print with visual media, and when we say visual media, we mean visual storytelling, not just making a video. We are trying to connect with people emotionally through visual video.”
As director of visual media, Waters said that the goal of every video “is not to promote the college, but to teach a principle that the college stands for.”
“I always hope that we teach something that people feel a benefit from when engaging in a video,” Waters said. “I hope they learned something they didn’t know before and that they feel like what they learned was worth something.”
Several students work alongside the media team within the marketing department. Sophomore Victoria Nuñez has worked with the department for nearly two years.
“The vision has remained the same in the department,” Nuñez said. “Our main goal is to just implement the mission of the college in all the various forms of media we use.”
Sophomore Jane O’Connor has worked with video production in the department for almost a year.
“Interns are fairly involved in the creative and production aspects of content creation,” O’Connor said. “I haven’t felt much of my job is concerned with busy work. I help out a lot with the pre-production and production stages of our video work.”
With each project, Schlientz stresses the ultimate mission and goal of the college.
“We want the country to know about the mission of Hillsdale College,” Waters said. “Part of our vision and part of our mission is to save the country. We want positive attitudes to be formed because generally you need positive attitudes to lead to action, and we’re looking for action.”
This need for action fuels the department’s consistent outreach, and they hope to continuously reach out and impact the community.
“We don’t just want a one-time experience or action. We actually want multiple actions and we want lifetime raving fans of college,” Schlientz said.
Through new additions to the team, increased activity on social media, and new ideas for eye-catching videos, Schlientz and his team aim to bring Hillsdale’s traditions and culture to life.
“The mission of Hillsdale still hasn’t changed since 1844,” Schlientz said. “The purpose has remained the same from the beginning. We’re just articulating it better than ever.”