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Update on strategic positioning for July 2022 | Banner year for earned media + process progress

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Renea Morris

Renea Morris

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This past month, we were able to confirm our suspicions that FY22 was a banner year for media placements, and we are trending upwards—increasing by 14% over the past four years—in terms of the quality of coverage as well. As we prepare for the upcoming academic year, there are several initiatives that are moving quickly in MarComm, including our work on internal processes and supporting the rollout of MyDU—our new university-wide portal system.

New Portal

We believe the new portal will enhance all our lives, and we need your help to prepare the campus community for the change. PioneerWeb goes away September 1. We’re asking you to spread the word and help ensure all information directs readers to MyDU. Thank you for helping us make this transition as seamless as possible for everyone.

Banner Year for DU’s Earned Media Exposure

Fiscal year 2022 was a record year for total media hits featuring the University of Denver. Faculty, staff, students, and alumni earned 246 placements in elite and national media and 612 in local media. The combined number of placements was up 17% from last year. Several projects and events contributed to the spike, including the Men’s Hockey National Championship, the announcement of the James C. Kennedy Mountain Campus, and the launch of the DU Prison Arts Initiative’s statewide prison radio station, which was the first in the country.

DU’s Public Impact Fellow (PIF) Program continues to help faculty feel more comfortable disseminating their research through a variety of public channels. PIF faculty accounted for more than 11% of all media mentions for the University. Assistant Professor Govind Persad, Sturm College of Law, and Associate Professor Alex Huffman, College of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, were two of the top 10 faculty members to appear in the media this past year and are former Public Impact Fellows.

When it comes to DU in the media, it’s not all about the numbers. The overall quality of earned media continues to improve, too. Over time, we’ve seen more elite publications, such as The Washington Post, The New York Times, and the Associated Press, cite the research of DU experts. The quality of our news coverage increased by 14% over the past four years.

While the media relations team has cautioned me that this kind of growth is unlikely to repeat, I want to applaud the efforts of the entire team with an extra shout out to Jon Stone. He carried the load alone or with little help for good portions of the year due to staff shortages and other circumstances beyond our control. Bravo, team!

Process Makes Progress

Effective processes will not yield perfection, but having them in place can yield progress and peace of mind. Processes are vital to operating at and sustaining high levels of performance over time. Our team has been working on redefining our service model for a while. We started by refining our organizational structure to align the skillsets of our team with the needs of our campus community and the University’s strategic priorities. Since that time, our internal team of Subject Matter Experts (SME) has spent months untangling various points along project roadmaps—from event marketing to in-house initiated projects. With the support of Shira and Johanna, they mapped out a single workflow for our unit that captures most of the work we handle. With this model, we are poised to serve and support our campus partners more effectively.

In addition to the process map, the SME team defined a single set of documents that will standardize our approach to projects. As you work with us, you can expect to see consistent use of these documents to help establish clear, actionable expectations for all parties involved.

Another fun project the team has been working on is to consider the details of our marketing and communications support for events. The SME team identified event tiers along with the range of support needed for each. Though this approach is a work in progress, I am confident we’ll become more efficient and effective in our event support over time.

Finally, as we get acclimated to Wrike, the University’s new enterprise-wide project management system, we will be releasing a new project request intake form. The intake form will ask some basic questions so that we can get a sense of the scope and goals of the project. This will enable the SME team, with support from MarComm leadership, to review the request in tandem with division priorities and capacity.

Streamlining our sense of who we are as a unit, aligning on how we do what we do, and creating shared expectations for the partnerships across campus will go a long way to advance the University’s marketing and communications priorities and provide more personalized support for our campus partners.

BIG thanks to our SME team for the many months of work! We could not have moved this far, this fast without your efforts.

Leveraging our past experiences, optimizing our current efforts, and gaining insight for the future is the name of the game here in MarComm. "Building the plane while flying" is not a new metaphor for any of us. With that said, I’m incredibly confident in those we have on the plane now in MarComm as well as the future model we’re building.

I look forward to continuing to work with you all to build planes and move mountains well into the future. 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.