Marketing shows progress after town halls

Chrissy Miller, News Editor

After the Town Hall marketing meetings, the Thorburn group, working in conjunction with a group of Eastern’s administration and faculty, has taken people’s feedback and is planning on moving forward with marketing initiatives.

Eastern hired the Thorburn group to help with its marketing efforts. A series of town halls last week presented the firm’s ideas to the public.

Josh Norman, the associate vice president for enrollment management, said

Eastern President David Glassman noticed from looking at other universities’ budgets, as well as professional recommendations, that 1 to 2 percent of their budgets went towards marketing.

“1 percent to 2 percent of our budget would be well over a million dollars. So, you’re talking about a significant expenditure, and I don’t believe we have yet spent half of that,” Norman said. “There is a significant portion of that allocated to the creative execution.”

Norman said this includes things such as radio, YouTube and television commercials.

“One of the incentives about us partnering with the Thorburn group is using a media planner,” Norman said. “Because they’re buying all this media at once, they’re negotiating a lower price than we could ever get ourselves.”

The amount of community involvement in the Town Hall meetings was a very uplifting experience, he said.

“More than anything, it just really makes me excited to be in my position,” Norman said. “There’s something to be said about doing what I’m doing on a campus where people really, genuinely care about the future of the university.”

Norman said the people who attended the meetings seemed enthusiastic about getting behind the initiative.

“Those two days, just being there at the town halls and just talking to students and talking to staff, it just really made me feel like, ‘why the heck didn’t we do this 10 years ago?’” Norman said. “We’re just in a very unique situation, and I love that everybody is pulling together and they’re behind this.”

Norman said he was able to put up a video of the presentation as well as the PowerPoint Tuesday for viewing by faculty, staff and students at He said people can still leave feedback about the marketing initiative on that page.

“We initially had authentication on the entire page, but we wanted the community’s feedback,” Norman said. “So, we removed the authentication so community members had the opportunity to have input on that presentation that President Glassman and Eric made and on the brand foundation and creative execution.”

Norman said they do not yet have a date for when they will stop accepting feedback on the website because the group wants to hear from as many community members as possible.

Seeing what parts of the brand foundation received positive affirmation allows the group to make those parts more visible and tone down or remove pieces that the community does not feel fit, Norman said.

Eric Sickler, the vice president of client services for the Thorburn group, said in his experience, when a series of meetings is done, the attendance trails off after the first or second meeting. However, he said, such was not the case with Eastern.

“We had good, strong showings at all four of the sessions,” Sickler said. “Lots of nodding of heads and smiles in the room suggested to me what we were sharing with them was really resonating well with the audience.”

Sickler said the feedback will help with fine-tuning the initiative.

The stories people shared gave the Thorburn group a depth of context, which Sickler said has been helpful.

“That feedback has helped make sure we capture the kinds of images that will fuel the creative process,” Sickler said. “We’ll start with the local Charleston community in terms of making sure the community sees that Eastern is alive, understands accurately what Eastern is all about, and really, the idea behind that is to build ambassadors locally because we know that great marketing always starts at home.”

Chrissy Miller can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].