University of the Incarnate Word

The University of the Incarnate Word (UIW) was my first full-time professional opportunity fresh out of college. I graduated from my undergrad in December of 2013 and a month later I received the wonderful news that I was offered the role of social media and communications specialist. I was fully immersed in the experience from day one as I entered the role while the institution faced a challenge of crisis management. A campus officer was involved in an altercation with a student that resulted with the student fatally wounded. Those were the facts when I took the role; the public learned about the tragic event and immediately took to social media to express their anguish. My first direct experience as a social media manager came through implementing strategy while mitigating a crisis.

Although the pages could arguably be said to have endured a bloodbath, I was able to flip the situation and grow the school’s online following by a 7000 percent increase over the course of three quarters. The role gave me the opportunity to hone in on my photography and graphic design skills that I combined with social strategy to share the school’s brand story as well as implement recruitment and online campaigns. My first campaign came as result of news jacking the popular trend of the at-the-time novel “selfie.” The campaign was a great bridge-and-gap strategy to deflect negative attention on the institute. This was the first notable event to foster a positive morale among stakeholders and to gather them together post-altercation. The campaign culminated with the creation of a mass campus-wide selfie with the campus mascot, which was then pitched to local and national media as the largest university-wide selfie.

Photos: The Running Publicist.

One of my favorite responsibilities in the role was collaborating with our advertising agency of record in developing digital banners. I would be tasked with a topic or an upcoming campaign or event the school was promoting and through creative software I would solely design a banner that would then be feed to various billboards in the Greater San Antonio vicinity. Seeing my billboard light up for the first time is a pinch-me moment that I’ll never forget; this was my first step into the advertising world; an experience I will never forget. I thank UIW for giving me my first opportunity post-school but I thank them even more giving me the opportunity to work on unbelievable projects as such. The rush of seeing your work manifested for the masses is incomparable; the only thing that competes is seeing your client’s name in national media.

Photos: The Running Publicist.

Under said capacity, the university saw the introduction and growth across various social media channels resulting in a 4000 percent increment in engagement and a 700 percent quarterly rise in following. Spearheading online communication efforts included advising all university departments in safer and effective social networking practices and tactics as well as educating employees and students in social media literacy. Additional contributions include instrumental participation in the university’s branding and web redesign as well as regularly developing media pitches, press releases, feature stories, blog posts and internal communication publications such as the daily employee newsletter and the on-campus television channel.

Photos: The Running Publicist.

Working at UIW was almost as if going through a professional school. I learned so much, ranging from internal communications, crisis management, social media strategy, public perception and reputation management, graphic design, media relations and branding. A few weeks shy of my one-year anniversary I left for Boston where everything I learned here would be built upon through graduate school, corporate communication and international live productions.