Elizabeth Keserauskis

Building relationships and making connections

Sample work

Here are a few examples of work we have completed recently.

2012 Chancellor’s Report:

2012 Chancellor's report

2012-2013 Admissions Viewbook

2012-2013 Viewbook

2012 Promotional Video

Promotional video

Sample Advertising

Print Ads:

Print ad 1

Sample print adPrint ad 2 Print ad 3

Outdoor Ads:

Billboard 1

Billboard 2

Billboard 3

Billboard 4

Radio Ads:

STEM thought leadership positioning for the Chancellor, 0:60

Campus growth, 0:15 (voice over by me)

Student “Andrew” 0:60

Student “Natalie” 0:60

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May 21, 2013 Posted by | communication, higher education, marketing, media | , , , | Leave a comment

Event Quality as a Reflection of Leadership

I recently participated in the a conference for commencement planning officers, the North American Association of Commencement Officers (NAACO). A session that particularly stood out for me was “building an emotional connection: the influence of high touch event communication on donor support.”

At the beginning of the session, the discussion revolved around how a poorly run event can lead the donor to assume the institutional leadership is not strong. Wow! I am pretty sure that most leaders of an institution must either not understand this, or underestimate the amount of time and attention a high end event can require. Otherwise more time and resources would surely be put towards events! Research was displayed showing there is a direct correlation between the donors perceived quality of the event and the perceived quality of the institutional leadership. Powerful stuff! And a new way to think about events and the way I position them to the leadership of an organization.

We also discussed event branding, things like using the same typeface for ALL events and event pieces down to the name tags. Makes complete sense–we have such a challenge convincing folks why consistent font usage is important in general; I can’t wait to start rolling that out with all campus events!

And I know I had not yet thought to brand the dessert! It’s one of the last things consumed that evening/event, take advantage of the opportunity to reinforce the message!

Great stuff- I am so glad that I found a worthwhile session.

February 7, 2012 Posted by | communication, connecting, events, leadership, resources | , , , , | Leave a comment

Agility

After a particularly frustrating series of days working for a state institution, I was reflecting on the concept of agility and how important it is for an organization. More appropriately, I was ranting about how NOT agile a public higher education organization is. So I decided to Google “business agility”. And since Wikipedia is clearly the destination for accurate information (*sarcasm*) and you really should believe everything you read on the Internet (*more sarcasm*), it was only natural to include information from their entry (which, by the way, is cited as Dyer, L. and Ericksen, J. (2009). Complexity-based Agile Enterprises: Putting Self-Organizing Emergence to Work. In A. Wilkinson et al (eds.). The Sage Handbook of Human Resource Management. London: Sage: 436–457.)

Agility is a concept that incorporates the ideas of flexibility, balance, adaptability, and coordination under one umbrella. In a business context, agility typically refers to the ability of an organization to rapidly adapt to market and environmental changes in productive and cost-effective ways.

Where to begin pointing out the ways we are not agile? I often feel like each day I am trying to change the course of a cruise ship with a canoe paddle. All frustration with the business practices required by the State of Illinois aside, let’s focus on the communication side of a business.

We cannot craft messages and responses by committee anymore. The world is moving too fast and the situation will have changed and incorporated more information faster than the statement can be reviewed by 3 of the required 7 people. What about establishing the core values, mission, brand platform and promise, and overarching key messages, and then deputize people to be company ambassadors at all levels?

Also, if your entire communication/sales strategy is based largely on printed material and direct mail, how up-to-date do you think the information is that people will have in their hands? I am not advocating banishing all printed material, as they have a time and place. However I am suggesting that our customers are so much more savvy than ever before and will go to the places where they want to consume information (websites, blogs, social networks, friend networks, etc) rather than try to figure out how a business is trying to force them to consume the information. Meeting the customers where they are looking for information requires agility in a business, and specifically in the marketing and sales areas. It also requires the leaders of both areas to buy into the concept, versus continuing with “the way it has always been done”.

Going back to the Wikipedia entry,

There are several key distinctions between the agile enterprise and the traditional bureaucratic organization. The most notable is the agile enterprise’s use of fluid role definitions that allow for dynamic decision making structures. Unlike the rigid hierarchies characterizing traditional bureaucracies, organizational structures within agile enterprises are more likely to fluidly adapt to changing business conditions into structures that support the current direction and any emergent competitive advantage. (Dyer, L. & Ericksen, J. (2007). Dynamic Organizations: Achieving Marketplace Agility Through Workforce Scalability. In J. Storey (ed.). Human Resource Management: A Critical Text (3rd edition). London: Thomson Learning: 263–280.)

How can we change the state and structure of public higher education (Illinois specifically for my knowledge base) to become more agile? To me that is the new million dollar idea. Wish me luck finding it.

June 25, 2011 Posted by | communication, higher education, leadership | , , | 2 Comments

Bleeding, Box Scores and Pro Sports Injuries

I have known for some time that if it bleeds, it leads. That’s how news is decided, primarily for TV, but also for the other mediums. I can sadly say that at least 75%, if not more, of the TV coverage we have had here at the university has been a tragedy/travesty: apartment fires, federal investigations for fraud, vandalism (twice), etc. This is certainly not for lack of pitching the good stories to the media. We even create the angle/hook/sensation for them. It doesn’t matter.

In addition to the bleeding leading, sports will always be covered. Collegiate box scores and game stories always make print, and are often mentioned on local TV. However, I was watching the local newscast Monday evening, right after Albert Pujols fractured a bone in his arm in a game and will be out for quite some time. The newscast started on the hour, and that was the ONLY topic covered until the 13th minute. Now there was a commercial series or two in there, but still! There are so many positive things happening in St. Louis right now, including Marine Week down on the riverfront. Instead, we get to hear the interview of the 10-yr-old at the stadium telling us that he would have punched the guy in the head if he broke his arm.

Now I kept watching this particular newscast because I was in awe of how much of the beginning segment was dedicated to this topic, and naturally it was to become fodder for my blog. But the fact that Joe and Jane Sixpack keep watching crap like this is the reason it continues to happen. And the reason why I don’t often watch the TV news.

June 23, 2011 Posted by | communication, media, public relations | , , , | Leave a comment

“In God We Trust, All Others Must Bring Data”

I love the quote from W. Edwards Fleming, “In God We Trust, All Others Must Bring Data”. [Excerpt from Wikipedia: William Edwards Fleming (October 14, 1900 – December 20, 1993) was an American statistician, professor, author, lecturer, and consultant. He is perhaps best known for his work in Japan. There, from 1950 onward, he taught top management how to improve design (and thus service), product quality, testing and sales (the last through global markets) through various methods, including the application of statistical methods.]

I came across a few blog posts/articles recently addressing marketing trends, stats, etc., that I found interesting. Just sharing light reading to consider as we continue our marketing and advertising efforts!

How are we paying attention to data? How do we have the right blend of data versus instinct? For my job specifically, how is higher education marketing and recruiting adapting to the changing consumer behavior, specifically on the web, and getting away from the direct mail (spray and pray, shotgun method, etc.) strategy? What is a good percentage of your budget to move away from the “tried and true” methods and test in some of the strategies described in the following posts? So much to consider!

June 17, 2011 Posted by | communication, higher education, marketing, social media | , , , , | 2 Comments

The State of Today’s Graduate Seeking Work in Communications

I attended a speed networking event pairing current students (most of whom are about to graduate) with alumni working in various fields last night. The idea is based on the “speed dating” concept, but in this situation alumni are stationed at tables and students rotate among them for 15 minute networking sessions. The concept is fantastic, and I am so glad I participated and could provide perspective to students entering the workforce.

What concerns me after the event is the state of preparedness of the students about to enter the workforce, particularly in communications fields. They don’t have experience beyond their internships, and are about to compete with folks who have much more experience for the same jobs in our economy. Internships are almost critical for students these days. Many of them realize they will likely have to take full-time internships with companies (many without benefits) in order to get their foot in the door.

But the problem doesn’t stop at their lack of tangible experience. To me it is more worrisome that they have not been required to hone their writing skills. Many have not had to compose extensive persuasive papers in their last year of two in school. I have yet to find one who understands just how drastically the internet has changed the strategic communications field. Most of them believe they are going to find a job in “PR”. Well, it’s not just PR anymore. You have to have the understanding of how to help a company establish and manage a reputation, among all their audiences and across all media. It is not just traditional media releases and pitching. Most of them don’t understand the direct-to-consumer conversation potential with the internet. Many of them look at me with blank stares when I ask them if they understand the basics of SEO & SEM.

The best I can hope for is that the sites where these students are doing their internships give them several sips from the fire hose and give them a chance to realize what they haven’t learned yet. Then the most motivated will make it a priority to teach themselves what they can. And in the meantime, I am dreading the day when I have to hire an entry level communications position. I certainly will have to manage my own expectations!

March 30, 2011 Posted by | communication, higher education, reputation management | , , , , | Leave a comment

Knowledge is Power

You might think this post title indicates prose on the importance of continually educating yourself on changing technology, your customer behavior and trends, and other marketing speak. On the contrary, this post is about the importance of institutional climate and culture, and specifically the importance of internal communication at an organization.

Have you ever been in a workplace where people flaunt the fact that they have knowledge about a topic, new process, upcoming change, etc? Rather than taking the opportunity to educate others, build consensus for the direction of the company, and overall support the mission, people tend to “collect” knowledge as people in medieval times collected property, slaves, etc to show their wealth, position and power. While my life experience is relatively average, I believe this is more rampant in higher education than in any other sector. I also believe that higher education places less emphasis on the importance of an internal communication strategy than other companies. Perhaps the decentralized nature of the typical higher education structure fosters this.

While I spent a good two days stewing over my recent specific experiences with this “knowledge is power” phenomenon, my take-away (or “aha” moment or life lesson or silver lining, blah blah blah) from this is that I need to circle my communication wagons and rejuvenate my push for a more robust, comprehensive internal communication strategy for the institution. I am going to stop wishing that people would just “get it” and stop collecting knowledge as power. Since I obviously have no control over that, I’ll focus on that which I can control (and happen to be good at)–communication.

Any suggestions for how other institutions help proportionately allocate/expend resources on internal communications?? Any help is welcome!!!

February 10, 2011 Posted by | communication, connecting, higher education | , , , | 2 Comments