What goes around comes around: SIUE recently hired mass communications alum Kedra Tolson as the university’s new marketing and communications executive director.
Tolson said returning to the university has been part of a rigorous process she underwent in order to get the job. Tolson said she hopes to use skills she learned at SIUE to enhance the university’s visibility in the surrounding communities.
“It’s a good feeling to come back to the place where I learned a lot of the tactics that I used as a mass comm. student,” Tolson said. “It’s nice to come back and help the university grow in Illinois and outside of Illinois academically and strengthen our reputation with the students and parents.”
Tolson described University Marketing as the “communications hub of the university” and said she would be working with a wide variety of other university departments.
“I’ll be working very closely with Dr. Minor on enhancing the visibility of the university … with our advertising marketing, enrollment marketing [and] brand awareness type of things,” Tolson said.
Tolson said the marketing department works closely with other areas of the university in order to keep the disparate parts of the school communicating efficiently with each other and with administration.
“We do all types of different communications projects,” Tolson said. “We also distribute a lot of major publications, like for the alumni association and the foundation. We work closely with athletics on a lot of initiatives that they have. We, of course, work with the academic areas and publicize as much as we can about academic areas, faculty and staff and students and all the wonderful things that they’re doing.”
Tolson said she and her team have started preliminary work on a brand campaign for SIUE..
“The first thing the team and I are going to get to work on is working to establish a brand campaign, which speaks to our reputation, which speaks to our awareness in the region about who we are and what we do,” Tolson said.
Tolson said the university’s accomplishments speak for themselves to a degree, but that there is plenty of space to improve upon the school’s image.
“It’s fairly easy for me to brag about the university because I'm a product of the university and I understand the strengths and values and power of an SIUE education,” Tolson said. “But I think we have room to grow in that area, so I’m going to be working with the team to work on establishing a brand campaign that will hopefully consist of television ads, radio spots, printed materials and such — enough that we get to tell the important story of SIUE.”
Tolson said this new brand campaign requires a lot of thought and research, potentially taking up to 6 months.
“Any time you start a brand campaign, you have to do some research, meaning you have to talk to current and prospective students, talk to the community at large, faculty and staff, business leaders [and] alumni,” Tolson said. “You use the data you have to formulate what your brand platform will be, [and] that’s how you form your talking points. So initially, we will start off on research and consumer insight so we can get real good information on how the community views us.”
Tolson said she is honored to work for the university which taught her, and she hopes to use the skills taught here to help SIUE grow in the years to come.
“I’m excited to become part of the SIUE community and hope that I contribute in a way that really makes us continue to shine,” Tolson said. “I think that I have a story to tell. Being a student who learned my craft – my profession – here at SIUE, to come back is an honor for me, so I hope to do the university proud.”
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