C A S E   S T U D Y

Duquesne University

The social media and media relations team at Duquesne University is brimming with expertise, doing their part to position the Division of Marketing and Communications (DMC) as a sought-after unit whether by the cabinet or a campus partner. That includes contributing to the development of strategic communications plans for each of the 10 colleges and schools at the university as it moves into a more audience-centric position.

The team is working to build brand alignment and data-informed communication strategies to expand strategic capacity. They continue to help senior leaders understand the impact social and earned media conversation, engagement and sentiment have on overall brand health and awareness, and ultimately contribute to the university’s goals. 

A Campus Sonar team member standing with Duquesne University higher ed professionals in school spirit wear
Patty Swisher, Assistant Vice President, Division of Marketing and Communications, Duquesne University 

“As a unit, we talk about incremental gains and desirable positive behaviors when it comes to social media and audience awareness. Using the Brandwatch tool with Campus Sonar allows us to have a fuller picture of the impact we are making month-to-month and annually with our social communications. Campus Sonar’s coordination and analysis have strengthened our team’s ability to measure and report.” 

Patty Swisher, Assistant Vice President, Division of Marketing and Communications, Duquesne University 

How We're Helping Duquesne

A key goal for the Duquesne team is finding ways to develop effective collaboration across campus. They’re proactively trying to overcome silos while trying to speak with a coherent voice and message. 

  • Monthly insights inform reporting, surface brand connections, and facilitate communicating relevant findings with leadership and key campus partners. 
  • Support enrollment management with first-person admissions insights, competitive intelligence, and engagement opportunities. 
  • Optimize sharing forum insights with relevant parties across campus. 
  • Activate campus-wide collaboration strategies and create a culture of mutual support with established working groups. 
  • Train auxiliary communicators on DMC best practices.
  • Plan a biannual executive briefing with partnership experts on the value of social listening and Duquesne’s conversation trends.

Duquesne's Progress

Four key goals are helping Duquesne move toward marketing maturity and contribute to strategic leadership on campus.

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Assess and improve brand alignment.

The social media audit helped the team identify dormant or off-brand accounts and support their efforts to overcome brand fragmentation. They’re also working toward brand alignment across campus in their working groups with education sessions and promoting cross campus collaboration. They’ve seen some examples of their success, including an example of the School of Education participating in admissions engagement.

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Help university leaders understand how online conversation reflects/contributes to brand health.

The social media audit also enabled the team to articulate best practices for brand health and cohesion and share them at the cabinet level in an effort to support the benefits of a cohesive message. Monthly reports and insights empower the team to make connections between online conversation and their brand, providing relevant examples to share with leadership.

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Support data-informed decision making.

The data-informed monthly insights support the policies and best practices they’ve developed. Sharing the insights and examples with communicator groups contributes to their goal of fostering a culture of mutual support across campus.

An issue on campus with multiple layers, including an impact on internal employee relations and campus safety, gave the partnership team an opportunity to support decision-making. Timely insights and context for how the topic compared to the rest of their overall conversation supported the Duquesne team in creating a report to share with leadership.

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Build strategic marketing capacity.

They're well on their way with their journey to building capacity in central marketing and with marketing colleagues across campus. Using frameworks developed from strategy sessions and their work to increase engagement with the working groups, they’re increasing their value as an expert team with important resources and insights.

Why It's Working

Duquesne regularly applies strategic insights to their day-to-day work. 
  • The Director of Social Media (DSM) uses insights and dashboard data to evaluate:
    • A multi-layer campus issue that was discovered while examining changes in volume over time and top topic spikes. With our support, the DSM considered the effects of the spikes and how they were shaping their brand narrative. Looking at the sentiment, we found that it didn’t affect their overall negative mention volume.
    • Another notable topic surfaced when a planned event held on campus was canceled. The DSM and team considered the ramifications of the decision for their campus community as well as how to respond and engage to show their support.
  • The results inform the director’s issues management reporting for leadership, who reference the recommendations in conversations with cabinet and other campus stakeholders. 
  • Monthly insights and a strategy session combine to help the team identify opportunities for admissions engagement and share findings with the enrollment team.

The team is invested in developing strategic marketing capacity, using insights to inform decision-making at the cabinet level, and in building a shared understanding of the value of brand health across campus. 

  • The audit and strategy session on cross-campus collaboration informed a conversation with the cabinet and deans around campus-wide approaches to social media account creation, including how to evaluate starting new accounts and/or sunsetting dormant ones.
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