Communications wins Accolades for promoting York

cheerleader at subway

Above: A member of York’s cheerleading squad delights in the redecorated St. George subway station with Lorna R. Marsden, York president and vice-chancellor, at May’s campaign launch

York’s Communications Division has earned five Accolade Awards from the Washington-based Council for Advancement and Support of Education in its annual regional competition. Matched against counterparts at some of the top schools in North America, York’s Media Relations unit captured a gold and a silver award, while the Publications unit garnered two bronze awards and an honourable mention.

Gold and silver were awarded for media and public relations efforts to promote last year’s subway campaign, designed to raise awareness of York during a crucial applications period, and of the need for an extension of the Spadina subway to the Keele campus. YorkU magazine received a bronze and an honourable mention and YFile, the University’s daily electronic newsletter, also received a bronze. The awards were handed out at a gala ceremony on Jan. 31 at a CASE regional conference in Baltimore, Maryland.

richard fisher

Richard Fisher, York’s chief communications officer, welcomed the awards, saying they confirm that York’s efforts over the past two years to set a high standard for communications were bearing fruit. “We’ve received many calls from schools across the country asking how we did it,” Fisher said, “so this comes as further external confirmation that we are on the right track.”

Left: Richard Fisher, York’s chief communications officer, at subway campaign launch in May

The judges awarded the subway campaign a gold medal in the category of Specific Media Relations Program for its innovative approach to generating media coverage of the subway domination campaign, launched in May, 2004 (see story in the May 4 issue of YFile).

For one month, the TTC’s St. George Station was entirely devoted to York’s reputational messaging, backed by newspaper ads. Developed by the Communications Division’s Account Direction unit and Toronto-based doug agency, it was the first-ever fully integrated advertising campaign of its type by a Canadian university. At the May 3 launch event, organized by the Media Relations unit, a throng of York students, cheerleaders and members of the administration, led by President and Vice-Chancellor Lorna R. Marsden, moved through the station, located next to the University of Toronto, and declared it the gateway to York. 

berton woodward and nancy whiteRight: Berton Woodward, director of publications, left, and Nancy White, director of media relations, at CASE awards dinner in Baltimore, Maryland

The silver award for Individual Special Public Relations Project recognized the creative strategy behind the publicity launch of the subway campaign. “Our event launching the subway ad campaign was covered by virtually all major Toronto print and broadcast media outlets,” said Nancy White, director of media relations. “The result was equivalent to taking out $100,000 in free advertising – on top of our subway ads – to showcase the York difference to our target GTA audience.”

Above: winning editions of YorkU magazine

gerry d photoYorkU magazine was honoured with a bronze award in the category of four-colour college and university magazines, chosen from among nearly 40 entries. It also received honourable mention for colour photography for an engaging picture, left, in the February 2004 edition of York alumnus and comedian Gerry Donoghue. YFile, e-mailed to 4,100 faculty and staff each day and available on the Web, won bronze in the Web Site: News category for its comprehensive coverage of University affairs.

Berton Woodward, director of publications, said he was particularly gratified that the awards “recognized the work of everyone in our unit and covered every aspect of what we do, from art direction to writing to editing, both electronic and print.” 

York is part of CASE’s District II, the largest of the organization’s divisions with 660 institutions and 4,800 individuals as members. It includes colleges and universities in Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, New Jersey, New York, Ontario, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, the US Virgin Islands and West Virginia.