On February 29, St. Catherine University (Minn.) students, alumnae, faculty, staff, and friends made their presence and appreciation for their school known in a big way. That Wednesday, designated Shout Out St. Kate’s Day, was a chance for everyone to share what drew them to the school, what they think sets St. Kate’s apart, and more. The hashtag #ShoutOutStKates earned trending status on Twitter. Daily total impressions on the university’s Facebook page jumped from 19,000 the day before to 232,000 that day.
The day was a whole lot of fun but hardly just for fun. The goal was to help “move the St. Catherine brand from strong and quiet to vibrant and well known,” explains Julie Michener, media and public relations manager.
The effort ties to the institution’s strategic plan, which calls for 25 percent graduate student enrollment growth between 2008 and 2013, notes Brian Bruess, vice president of enrollment management and student affairs. On the undergraduate side, he adds, each of the last three years has seen the largest freshman class in the past 30-plus years.
Alumni chapters and groups within companies helped spread the word, and the February university magazine contained Shout Out stickers (the stickers cost $9,000 total, says Michener, the only item outside of the university’s regular advertising budget needed). The Saint Paul City Council officially proclaimed February 29 Shout Out St. Kate’s Day and area businesses offered discounts.
Shirts, stickers, and messages carved into the slushy snow could be seen across campus. As part of Occupational Therapy Day at the state capital building, more than 50 students showed their “Katie” pride. Congresswoman Betty McCollum, a 1987 grad, posted a video on her Facebook page. Groups of alumnae rode the light rail from the Mall of America to downtown Minneapolis, sharing stories and photos along the way. And in New York City, a group hit the rope line outside Rockefeller Center with signs—getting the attention of “Today Show” hosts Ann Curry and Al Roker and earning a shout out on the “Today Show” blog.
Bruess says the happenings that day are “really the best kind of promotional activity I could ever dream of.”