Career Services earns national award for innovative marketing campaign
Mannequin mascot provides visibility for programs to help students with career planning
Southwestern’s Career Services office has long been a source of pride for the university, and now it can add something else to its list of accomplishments. On June 2, the office will receive the 2011 National Association of College and Employers (NACE) Innovation Excellence Award in the marketing and branding category for the social media campaign it developed featuring its mannequin mascot Ichabod Black.
Career Services has had Ichabod for more than a decade to show students how to dress professionally for job interviews (he wears clothes donated by Men’s Wearhouse). But in fall 2010 they decided to use him to serve as the “face” of Career Services on Facebook.
Students who work in Career Services were instrumental in developing and implementing the social media campaign. Last summer, senior Dylan Hickey helped set up the page and encouraged current and incoming students to be “friends” with Ichabod on Facebook and receive updates on what Career Services has to offer them on the path to professional success. Last fall, Hickey helped Career Services do the posts for Ichabod two days a week.
To date, more than 840 students, alumni, faculty, staff and friends have signed up to be friends with Ichabod. To encourage more students to “friend” him on Facebook, Ichabod makes appearances at events across campus such as new student orientation, sporting events, the Study Abroad Fair and even classes. Career Services takes photos of Ichabod around campus to post on his page, which can be found at www.facebook.com/#!/CareerBot.
“There are a lot of things that compete for students’ time and attention, so we feel like we have to stay visible,” said Alexandra Anderson, associate director of Career Services. “Not just because we want students to know about us, but ultimately for their own benefit of approaching the career development process as early as possible.”
Anderson said the Ichabod campaign has encouraged more students to take advantage of services offered by the Career Services, such as career exploration, resume writing, interviewing techniques, job and internship search strategies, as well as career and post-graduate advising.
Kylie LeBlanc, another student staff member in Career Services, helped Anderson create a survey to formally measure the impact of the Ichabod campaign. “The data we got from this survey was probably a big factor in helping us win the award,” Anderson said. “They wanted to see actual assessment and results of efforts.”
LeBlanc and fellow student Sarah Dorer have also helped Anderson do the posts for Ichabod this semester.
“Lots of people are using Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn in lots of different ways, but we feel like Ichabod is unique in that world,” Anderson said. “Like the Southwestern experience, he is personalized, as opposed to just a fan page or a formal media tool.”
Future plans for the campaign include expanding Ichabod’s narrative on Facebook, finding ways for closer interaction with students via social networking sites, and incorporating his mannequin partner Antoinette (named for the headless Marie Antoinette) into the campaign as well.
Roger Young, director of Career Services, will accept the award on behalf of the Career Services at the June 2 award ceremony that is being held as part of the 2011 NACE conference in Dallas.
− Rosalie Bonner