What a great bunch of people!
First, I’m grateful to my time here at the university and I believe that the last three and half years have been an amazing adventure in my life. I love ND and I’m so proud to have both gone to school here as a student and come back to work here as staff. It’s definitely been one of the highlights of my career.
Second, there is an fantastic marketing communications team in place to take the university to much greater heights. I’m a firm believer in David Ogilvy’s philosophy in hiring much, much smarter people than yourself.
“If each of us hires people who are smaller than we are, we shall become a company of dwarfs. But if each of us hires people who are bigger than we are, we should become a company of giants.” – Ogilvy on Advertising
When I was hired, I was challenged to fix the issues with the agency. We missed deadlines, we were expensive, our creative was good but it took too long, etc… My first weeks were spent meeting with internal clients, apologizing, and then adjusting our invoices to share the costs because of the problems.
The top 25 responsive sites of 2012
Now I rarely ever have an issue with a client. I believe a lot of this was changed by the right hires, adjusts to people’s positions and new technology. We added the right people (both account managers and project managers – the backbone of great agency relationships) so the production people could do great creative. We added project management software to keep us on deadlines and clear up any miscommunications. We added and adjusted our processes and briefs so things moved quickly along the pipeline. I’m very proud of how this team runs and how many projects we produce for the university (1,350 individual projects last year). It shows in happy clients, affordable budgets, quick turnarounds and great creative that wins awards. We just won an award via .net magazine for one the top responsive design websites.
There are four teams right now ran by extraordinary people.
Accounts, Print, Web and Multimedia.
Accounts is still fairly new with Amy, Andy, Ava and Britt but all of them understand client relations and how to think strategically about communications. I know people would debate me on whether their jobs are the hardest in the agency but I believe accounts are always torn between making sure the client is happy and the creatives are happy. That’s difficult to do and all three of these people make it look easy.
The Print team has gone through many changes over the past couple of years – all the designers are new since I’ve come on board but Tim and Amy have done an amazing job of keeping the quality and standards as high as they were before while getting the trains to run on time. I’ve never seen jobs moved through the shop so quickly and it’s proof of good processes, sticking to them and great leadership. Elissa, Kat and Maria are phenomenal talents and easy to work with. Dar makes sure the copy is correct (which I struggle with daily) and, unfortunately, we lost Mike, our great copywriter. But life moves on and we’re definitely happy for him and his new position.
The Web Team has gone through much over the past three years and I probably haven’t helped with my constant shifting of priorities but now that we have Nick and Stephanie in place, it’s running like a top and winning lots of awards. This would not be possible without the amazing leadership and production team skills of Erik, Philip, Alec, Kate, Taylor and Cristin. The new nd.edu is such an great example of the level of skill that this team has. I’m so proud of them and the support they give the university every day.
The multimedia team has grown so much over the past couple of years. Under Beth’s strong leadership and the awesome talents of Matt, Barbara, Tony and Michael, this group will only get better. They’ve been able to bring both athletics and archives into the fold of our online photography store – not an easy task. I predict it will become the most profitable center of our team over time and it’s all due to their entrepreneur spirit, energy and teamwork.
Again, I can’t tell you how proud I am of these groups and where they are going. I can’t wait to see where they take it.
Third, I’m one of those guys that needs a challenge. Not that ND communications isn’t challenging, for it is, every day. But I see that many things I wanted to do are now moving in right direction. And what direction is that, you ask?
The direction that I’ve always seen for University Communications is one of open communications. My philosophy for a large entity like a university is to get the right tools in place, make them as affordable (if not free) to use, and then educate as many people as possible on how to use them.
Communications has gone through a lot in the past couple of decades. From print brochures and paid advertising to websites and social media – anyone with a voice can now have a voice if he or she is so inclined to do so.
I believe that University Communications is now providing those communication tools for faculty, staff and students as well as the education to go with it.
For example, if you want a website, you can have one. When I first got here our conductor websites were $5,000 to $25,000 to produce and normally it took six months to produce one. Now you can have one in two days and it costs $300. Back then, the tools to build a website were Dreamweaver (and you needed training to understand how to do some serious html coding) and Contribute. Now you don’t need to know coding – you can have conductor or a wordpress blog. We had just over 100 websites in conductor in Aug 09. Now we have over 300 in conductor and almost as 300 blogs in our system.
Another great example is our brand standard templates for producing clean powerpoint presentations and print posters. We’ve gone through a lot to get the brand standards where they are and I’m proud of how campus communicators are adopting them for their needs. It makes us all look professional and cohesive though we might not all have the same roof over our heads.
And, finally, offering free professional photos through our photos.nd.edu system. Having high end photography from our amazingly talented photographers takes all communications up a level. This is the way it should be.
When it comes to education, I’m going to miss the linkedin campus communicators group, the brown bags, the social media classes in endeavor and the communicator summits that brought us all together. I’m going to miss this blog as well. It was awesome to be able to share my thoughts and get great feedback from everyone. I hope these education pieces continue after I’m gone as I’m sure they will.
Fifth, I’m moving on to greener pastures. Literally. If you don’t know, I’m going to DMI (Dairy Management, Inc) leading their digital initiatives. I’m so excited for the new challenge and new location (Chicago). Cows on Facebook? Maybe. Definitely on Twitter.
The last thing about leaving ND – there are so many more people to thank.
The administration for both supporting and challenging how we did our communications.
The other groups in communications like Julie’s PR teams and internal communications, for Kerry’s magazine and for Dennis’ crisis leadership. I loved being able to work with you all.
And last but not least, I really want to thank my family for supporting me through both the good and challenging times here and now giving me the support I need to move on. It’s been an amazing run here and I’m so proud to have been on campus twice in my lifetime. I look forward to coming back here as an alum and a fan of Notre Dame.
GO IRISH! BEAT BAMA!
You can leave comments if you want but after Jan 4th, I won’t have access to approve. Thanks for all your support. It’s been a grand time.