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Patrick Henry Community College - PHCC's Progress Initiative (DEI)

PHCC formed a DEI Marketing Committee, in August 2009 to create a plan to meet the expectation of the Gates Foundation and MDC that colleges have a very public face on the initiative. We followed a basic plan that you would use for any marketing plan. Because developmental education has such a negative image, we established an identity that gives it a positive spin: PHCC’s Progress Initiative. We then looked at various elements (music, logo, slogan, etc) that would help us get our point across to our target audiences. We introduced the campaign with a presentation that featured those elements at various campus meetings, which allowed us to educate faculty and staff about the DEI.

We then turned to the public. We officially launched our DEI – Progress Initiative on Wednesday, April 21, 2010 with an appearance by Byron Pitts, CBS Chief National Correspondent, and a Contributing Correspondent for 60 Minutes. Byron Pitts represents the ultimate success story for an at-risk student. Modeling is the most successful advertising technique. We are going to get much more than one day out of his visit. Between our own promotions, attention from the media and activities on campus, Byron Pitts’ image is going to be there for every student who feels disconnected or unworthy of college.

Why did we decide to forge ahead with our marketing campaign?
We all know that frequency and reach are two of the main components of any advertising campaign. By starting as soon as we had our identity (and our ‘opening act’) established, we’re better able to saturate our own faculty and staff through repeated activities (frequency). Most people on campus have seen our presentation at least once. Many have seen it multiple times. The posters, billboards and other ads promoting Pitts;were everywhere, reinforcing the initiative’s branding efforts.

Everyone likes something for free. By kicking this off with a celebrity and a huge event for the public, we took an opportunity to give the community something for free that serves us well in getting our message out there. It only creates a positive image for PH and the initiative. It is also part of the culture at PHCC to grab something and run with it. We tend to get excited about new projects that positively affect our students and our college. We like to make things fun, and frankly, we work pretty hard at that!

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