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The American Marketing Association Foundation has named Oklahoma State University’s
Department of Brand Management the 2023 Higher Education Marketing Team of the Year.

The prestigious national award recognizes exceptional creativity and ingenuity within
the higher education marketing landscape and organizations that have demonstrated
outstanding innovation in traditional and digital realms.

“Congratulations to all our winners for their exceptional work in higher education
marketing,” said AMA CEO Bennie F. Johnson. “I’m excited to honor these individuals
and organizations for their extraordinary leadership, innovation and marketing achievements.”

A small team representing Brand Management attended the 2023 AMA Symposium for the
Marketing of Higher Education this week in Chicago, where over 1,500 attendees from
higher education institutions across the country came together to learn about emerging
trends in the industry and recognize the nation’s top communications professionals
and teams.

OSU Interim Associate Vice President of Brand Management Megan Horton credited the
award to the hard work and dedication of the entire department, as well as support
from partners and OSU communications professionals and colleagues from across the
OSU System.

“Our division has transitioned from three distinct offices of communications, marketing
and enrollment management communications to one division that has built momentum year
after year,” Horton said. “And over the past 12 months, we successfully expanded the
university’s substantial branding campaign, fostered unity across our campuses through
culture-building communications around the Cowboy Code, supported historic enrollment
growth, and — thanks to our forward-thinking president, Dr. Kayse Shrum — boldly launched
an inspirational university strategic plan that has galvanized our faculty, staff,
students and alumni.

“We have a ‘one brand, one team’ mindset. It is core to our work and the collaborative
culture we’ve built together. And getting to this point in our brand journey has truly
been a team effort across our five-campus system.”

Third-party partner organizations offered their support, acknowledging the achievement
and strategic work that led the OSU team to victory.

“Over the last few years, we have seen the OSU Brand Management team plan for and
achieve change,” said Carnegie Executive Vice President Melissa Rekos. “They wisely
saw the higher education landscape morphing and transformed their team to align with
today’s demands. They honed their skills and focused on their efforts to meet their
audience’s expectations with digital-first and truly personalized brand experiences.
Additionally, they advocated for a research-first approach to brand and marketing,
which led to significant improvements in their brand platform, media strategies and

NewCity worked with OSU to relaunch its main website and is currently working on multiple
projects with the university. NewCity President David Poteet said the OSU Brand Management
team achieved success by taking a strategic, long-game approach that prioritized clear

“It was a huge undertaking to move from a single homepage connecting hundreds, perhaps
thousands, of separate federated sites and convince colleagues to voluntarily adopt
a new platform and work together on centralized, user-focused content,” Poteet said.
“And, they pulled that off better than any institution we’ve worked with.

“The website is just one outcome of all the legwork they did to make their organization
into a well-oiled strategic machine, and the dramatic improvements to the user experience
have come as a result of that larger effort. We still brag on them to this day and
hold them up as an example to our other higher ed clients.”

Building on these recent milestones, Brand Management has a vision to expand the impact
of OSU’s “We are Land-Grant” strategic plan with a focus on spreading awareness about
the land-grant mission and how OSU is making a real world impact by addressing society’s
most pressing challenges.

Kyle Wray, senior vice president for executive affairs, said the Brand Management
team’s strategic work has been instrumental in uniting the OSU brand, and he’s looking
forward to seeing OSU’s communication outreach efforts grow and how they’ll continue
to elevate the brand and advance OSU’s land-grant mission.

“The Department of Brand Management has made incredible strides over the past few
years, and this recognition is certainly well deserved. As we move toward cementing
OSU as the nation’s preeminent land-grant university, a unified voice and potent storytelling
will be key components of our shared success. It’s a great time to be a Cowboy, and
our talented marketing and communications staff are making sure everyone knows it.”

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