York U receives top awards for excellence in marketing and communications

This is Biophysics
This is Biophysics

Work by York University’s communicators has been recognized for excellence by the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) in its 2017 Accolades Awards and 2016 Circle of Excellence competitions.

The University’s Open Your Mind brand campaign, news writing and a community relations campaign by the Faculty of Science garnered awards in the 2017 Accolades Awards that were announced in early January. These awards complement three Circle of Excellence Awards that were announced last summer for the first iteration of the Open Your Mind brand campaign, the “Yes to York” advocacy campaign and feature photography that appeared in the spring 2015 issue of York U magazine.

York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri met with staf
York President & Vice-Chancellor Mamdouh Shoukri met with staff from Communications & Public Affairs to congratulate the team on the CASE Awards

“York University has world-class communicators and external awards such as these are a testament to their expertise,” said York University’s Chief Marketing & Communications Officer Susan Webb. “I’m very proud of the contributions that staff continue to make to support the priorities of the University and enhance its brand and reputation.”

CASE is a professional association serving 3,670 educational institutions in 82 countries and the advancement professionals who work on their behalf in alumni relations, communications, development, marketing and allied areas. The CASE Circle of Excellence Awards considers work from the international membership while the CASE Accolades Awards are divisional. More than 100 categories of work are considered by expert judging panels comprised of sector peers.

Gold and Silver Medals: Brand Identity/ Marketing Communications

Image from the Open Your Mind instagram page
Image from the Open Your Mind instagram page

York University’s Open Your Mind brand campaign was conceived and produced by Communications & Public Affairs and their agency of record doug&partners. The campaign received two Gold Medals in the divisional 2017 Accolades Awards competition for Best Practices in Communications and Marketing (Platinum category), and Institutional Marketing and Identity/Branding. It won a Silver Medal in the international 2016 Circle of Excellence competition for the Advertising category.

The campaign, first launched in the fall of 2015, was expanded in 2016 and positions York as a progressive and modern university making it refreshingly different from typical university ads. With a focus on showcasing unexpected research strengths, program applications or potential careers, quantitative research reveals the campaign is compelling and meaningful in terms of enhancing reputation and the likelihood to consider applying to York University.

Results are key criteria for winning any CASE award and the Open Your Mind campaign yielded a significant impact on audiences being encouraged to find out more about the University and contributed to thousands of student applications to study at York.

Gold Medal: Advocacy campaign

The “Yes to York” advocacy campaign by Communications & Public Affairs received a Gold Medal in the Circle of Excellence competition.

The “Yes to York” microsite

The campaign was specifically designed to create awareness, understanding and support for York University’s “Yes to York” proposal to the Government of Ontario for a third campus in Markham, Ontario. York University’s proposal and the accompanying community awareness and advocacy campaign were built in partnership with a number of internal groups as well as municipal and business leaders, community agencies and leaders and area residents. It included a microsite, yestoyork.ca, a variety of social media efforts, media relations activities, internal articles and videos.

Silver Medal: Photography

Prior to its evolution to become The York University Magazine, York U Magazine produced by Communications & Public Affairs wrote and photographed a feature length story titled Sporting Life. It profiled York University athletes talking about what varsity sports means to them.

york U magazine
A feature spread showing the award-winning photography that appeared in York U spring 2015 issue. The photos show York varsity athletes in their athletic gear

The photo feature story was the cover for the spring issue of the magazine and conveyed the joy, dedication and strength of York athletes in advance of the Pan American/Parapan American Games that included a new stadium at York University. It was awarded a Silver Medal in the international Circle of Excellence competition.

Bronze Medal: Newswriting/media relations

Newswriting by Communications & Public Affairs garnered a Bronze Medal from CASE in its Accolades Awards competition. The story and media pitch focused on a unique certificate program in Educational Studies at York University that offers postsecondary education to students living in the Dadaab refugee camps in Kenya. The media release demonstrated York University’s commitment to social justice and engagement with the community – whether next door or a world away – which is one of the University’s top five strategic priorities. It emphasized how this project, pioneered through research and achieved through practice with many partners, serves as a model for projects being developed by other universities worldwide.

Students in a Dadaab refugee camp work on their York University course work

The story received broad coverage in the Toronto Star and The Globe and Mail due to a comprehensive plan that circumvented the restrictions associated with working with a refugee camp in another continent. In addition to a news release, video clips and still images taken by staff working in the camps, Skype interviews with students offered firsthand information about the experience in the camp and the program.

Bronze Medal: Community awareness campaign

The CASE Accolades Competition judges awarded a Bronze Medal to the Faculty of Science for its community awareness event, Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe. A large, high-profile, free public event held by the Faculty of Science at York University in December 2015, the event marked the launch of the York Science Forum.

The Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs event poster
The Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs event poster

“Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs” featured a talk by bestselling author and renowned particle physicist Lisa Randall (professor at Harvard University), who talked about the intriguing possibility that a comet, knocked out of its orbit by a disc of dark matter, might have caused the extinction of the dinosaurs. Her presentation was followed by a panel discussion also featuring York University physicists Sean Tulin and Wendy Taylor, moderated by Ray Jayawardhana, dean of Science at York University. The goal of the event was to engage with the broader community and to enhance the reputation and brand of York University’s Faculty of Science. The event was very successful and sold out early, with more than 500 audience members attending.

Communications & Public Affairs has collected dozens of awards from CASE in both the divisional and international competitions. Over the past decade, CASE has recognized York University for excellence in marketing, publications, media relations, social media, website, advocacy and other projects.