Shout Out Day Success

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St. Catherine University (Minn.) students, alumnae, faculty, staff, and friends made their presence and appreciation for their school known in a big way on February 29. 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. #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 effort was 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. “People who know us think very highly of us. We thought, let’s take that base and push it out to a wider audience, and give St. Kate’s alumni some tools to be able to do that.”

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. The institution’s current undergraduate enrollment is at 3,896 and graduate enrollment is at 1,401.

Alumni chapters and groups within companies helped spread the word, and the February university magazine contained Shout Out stickers (the $9,000 total stickers cost, says Michener, was the only item outside of the university’s regular advertising budget.) It was when that magazine mailed and an additional 5,000 stickers were distributed across campus in the weeks leading up to the day that the excitement became intensified, Michener says.

The Saint Paul City Council officially proclaimed it Shout Out St. Kate’s Day. The resolution, read by Third Ward City Council member Chris Tolbert, concluded, “The Council of the City of St. Paul gives a hearty ‘shout out’ to St. Catherine University and her faculty, students, staff, alumnae, and friends.”

Shirts, stickers, and messages carved into the slushy snow could be seen across campus on the big day. 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.

Numerous alumnae and friends posted photos, videos and “shout outs” on the University’s Facebook page throughout the day and sent numerous photos to the University that are now featured on the University’s flickr site.

And in New York City, a development officer and a few alumna decided to hit the rope line outside Rockefeller Center with the Shout Out artwork blown up into signage—getting the attention of Today Show hosts Ann Curry and Al Roker, who asked what the effort was all about. Alumnae who were watching live began calling their alma mater and captured some screenshots of their TVs. “We were kind of able to capture it that way,” says Michener, adding that the appearance was then covered on the Today Show’s blog.

On Twitter, St. Kate’s fans and friends posted throughout the day. A few highlights:

  • Rondi Persaud: "Thanks to St. Kate's, I made lifelong friends and obtained an outstanding education. Yeah! #shoutoutstkates"
  • Kelli Beard: "At St. Kate's, I learned how to think, pray, and lead as a woman. #shoutoutstkates"

The St. Kate’s Facebook page had numerous photos, videos, and shout outs posted that day, and many photos were added to the university’s Flickr account. The daily total impressions on Facebook jumped from 19,000 the day before to 232,000 on that day. “We gained a lot of followers,” Michener sums up.

Bruess says the happenings that day are “really the best kind of promotional activity I could ever dream of.”

—Melissa Ezarik is the managing editor of University Business magazine.

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