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MarComm quarterly update: April-June 2023 | Part I

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Renea Morris

Renea Morris

News  •
Internal  •

MarComm ended FY23 on a high note. As reported last quarter, the past three months have been busy in MarComm. Here are highlights of updates from April-June 2023. Be sure to read part 2 of the past quarter update and the special spotlight on Commencement 2023 to get a more comprehensive view of our very busy and productive fourth quarter!

Internal Communications
Our communications team is always eager to support and collaborate with our partners. We’re happy to share some information about initiatives in which we partnered with Human Resources and Inclusive Community (HRIC), Campus Safety, and Information Technology.

Spring is an especially exciting time as faculty and staff navigate annual employment requirements and opportunities. In partnership with HRIC, MarComm produced two HRIC takeovers of The Bridge detailing everything employees would need for performance evaluations, merit, and open enrollment so faculty and staff could refer as needed throughout each process. We prepared email communications and frequent messaging. We also participated in training sessions led by the HRIC benefits team, facilities, IT, and MarComm to ensure all Spanish-speaking employees understood how to sign up for benefits.

Earlier this calendar year, Campus Safety launched DU’s new safety app, DU Safe, and MarComm has been supporting the development and rollout by sharing multiple posts in campus newsletters, promoting the app on digital signs, handing out postcards, explaining the resource on social media, and more. We learned a lot about engaging with the DU audience on this topic and will carry that knowledge forward into our fall campaign. If you have not yet downloaded the DU Safe app, simply visit your app store, search for “DU Safe”, and add the app to your device. Then use your standard DU credentials to begin using the many safety features offered within DU Safe.

We are pleased to report the results of our Catch a Phish campaign, aimed at decreasing the number of employees who engage with clickbait or spam content. Our goal was to decrease the click rate from 45% to 35%, but the campaign was so effective that our post-campaign click rate was just over 5%! Thanks to everyone who engaged with our unexpected mix of rescue dogs, fish costumes, puns, and face-to-face connections.

US News Peer Influencer Campaign
In partnership with Kivvit, we launched the latest higher education thought leadership campaign to continue our efforts to raise visibility among USNWR voters. To augment and amplify DU’s existing media relations and content marketing efforts, the teams worked together to launch a new digital advertising campaign as well as a new landing page showcasing a sampling of DU’s research prowess. In just two months, the digital advertising campaign has generated over 2M impressions, 30k clicks, and 14,540 site visits to the new landing page. The most recent DU research newsletter geared toward industry thought leaders was sent in May and achieved a 22% open rate and 7% click rate. We anticipate the newsletter will go out on a quarterly cadence and look forward to sharing all of DU’s exciting research with our colleagues across the nation.

university of denver ad that says two campuses one distinct R1 university

Brand Shoot Pilot
DU's first significant brand differentiator-focused photo shoot took place the last week of June 2023 as a partnership between the MarComm team and creative agency Heavy. The effort is the start of a new ongoing initiative that the marketing team is initiating to create a cadence for producing and delivering high-quality, on-brand assets for campus-wide marketing and communications use.

two people welding

The pilot effort the last week of June focused on capturing the essence of the 4D Experience. As a result of the team’s efforts, it’s anticipated that more than 1500 images that dynamically and thoroughly showcase all four dimensions of the 4D Experience will land in Widen in the near future. The photo shoot engaged more than 35 students and faculty, and resulting images represent a wide variety of experiences, both on and off campus, across more than 30 scenes in over 20 locations. The team is currently in the post-production phase, pulling “selects” (best of the best) for easy access and editing. After, they will organize all images by categories and searchable tags in Widen for community use.

person building a robot

Web & Digital Experience
From the launch of the Newman Center site from WordPress to Drupal to a new student resources site, and the transition to GA4 Analytics, MarComm has engaged in content overhaul, provided a central repository of student resources, and designed a website to aid in the transition to the new analytics platform. Here’s more information about each of these efforts.

Newman Center Site Launch

The Newman Center for Performing Arts had their site moved from WordPress into Drupal, our University-standard content management system, and in the process underwent a significant content overhaul. Included in that overhaul were a rework of several content items, a reconceptualized site architecture, and the development of a new component, in collaboration with Rehab Creative, designed to showcase featured events more effectively. As a result of this overhaul, all of Newman Center’s events have been and will continue to be added into 25Live, the University’s central scheduling platform, which allows them to be explored through the University calendar. Additionally, the new design of the site drastically improves the user experience, with a key element being that users are easily able to find information and ticket buying links to all Newman Center shows. On the previous site, that ability was limited to the Newman Center Presents series, and ticket links/info for all other shows could only be found through the Newman Center’s separate ticketing platform site.


DUHelp is a new student resources site developed by the Student Affairs team that serves as a central repository for a variety of student resources in areas like safety, well-being, financial wellness, academic and identity-based support, and more. It’s an excellent tool for all students and ensures easy access to the support they need throughout their time at the University. We worked with Student Affairs to ensure the site is well-organized, easy to navigate, and provides maximum value to our student population.


With transition from Universal Analytics (UA) to Google Analytics 4 (GA4) on July 1, the analytics team spent Q4 preparing MarComm and campus partners to make the switch. Marketing Analytics Specialist Anastasia Vylegzhanina recreated existing UA data, including more than 200 tags in GA4, and worked with partners to make sure all active tracking parameters were properly established in the new platform. The team crafted messaging regarding this Google-mandated shift and released it to campus partners to reiterate MarComm is a confident and prepared leader in this initiative. Additionally, Ben Klibaner and Anastasia created new website content to answer questions and provide guidance.

As we enter the 2023-2024 school year, the University of Denver Magazine is celebrating its 24th year of publication. With that milestone come changes in the wake of Tamara Chapman's, director of strategic communications, retirement. The publications team is taking seriously Tamara’s parting words that "we have no shortage of stories to tell,” and is barreling down the path Tamara trailblazed during her remarkable 25-year career at DU. We wish her all the best in her next chapter and thank her for all of her contributions! Joy Hamilton, our new manager of publications and research writing, will take over as the managing editor. Prior to joining the Division of Marketing and Communications, Joy worked in the travel publications industry, earned a Doctorate in Communication Studies from the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities, and advised a student media program.

You can expect more information about some exciting changes in store for the magazine in a future update. Meanwhile, if you haven’t had a chance, check out the Spring/Summer 2023 issue. Be sure to read Heather Hein’s feature on Sturm College of Law alumni who sit on Colorado’s judiciary benches or Connor Mokrzycki’s “Fast Fashion’s Dirty Laundry.” We had a chance to align our typical light summer content with the accomplishments and achievements of our athletics teams. Lorne Fultonberg traces the career trajectory of the new men’s lacrosse head coach Matt Brown, and Connor Mokrzycki chats with women’s lacrosse head coach Liza Kelly, whose semifinal appearance was the first ever by a NCAA Division I team west of the Mississippi.   

The MarComm team continues to hire and fill important roles to focus on our strategically relevant initiatives. In the last quarter of FY23, we filled seven new roles including: Art Director, Multimedia Associate Producer, Sr. Social Media Specialist, Content Marketing Manager, Publications and Research Writing Manager, Director of Brand Marketing, and an IT-led, MarComm-focused Business Analyst.

Three new people started over the last two months to round out our content marketing team: Content Marketing Manager Katherine Fuller, Multimedia Associate Producer Katie Polson, and Sr. Social Media Specialist Lainie Fickau. Additionally, the video team (Carri Wilbanks, MeiLi Smith, Lauren Cook) was folded into the space, which means that in addition to a lot of positive energy, the content marketing portion of our Marketing & Strategic Positioning team is officially full for the first time in seven months and in its anticipated long-term arrangement.

The team is already beginning to align its efforts under a content marketing plan tied to the overarching strategy that will focus on multimedia, social media, and marketing teams’ portions of MarComm’s strategic storytelling efforts on the brand differentiators. The content plan is designed to saturate the market each quarter to build affinity, drive inbound traffic, and strengthen DU’s reputation with powerful, authentic, brand-focused storytelling as well as bring in additional collaboration opportunities with MarComm’s communications team and campus partners so that the most impactful brand stories are also told through the broad distribution of content.

We are currently interviewing for five additional roles with the anticipation of having them filled in the next few weeks: two director roles focusing on Creative and Brand Management and Communications along with two web specialist roles and one coordinator role supporting the distribution of our campus communications.

As always, please feel free to reach out to me, Shira Good (, or Johanna Blickenstaff ( with any questions you might have regarding our communications, marketing, or strategic positioning efforts.