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Hat-trick: UWI Tops ACU Awards Again

by Karel Mc Intosh

Communicators are often the people who work behind the scenes, ensuring that their brand shines. But in July 2008, the Marketing and Communications Office of The University of the West Indies (UWI) was placed in the spotlight when it received first-place trophies in the Association of Commonwealth Universities (ACU) PR, Marketing and Communications 2008 Awards. Mrs Dawn-Marie De Four-Gill, University & Campus Director – Marketing & Communications, was on hand at the ACU’s 2nd Annual Conference in Durban, South Africa to receive the awards.

The UWI placed first in the bulletin and newspaper category with “The Pelican” magazine, and first in the website category for the electronic magazine “STAN Online”.

“We always look forward to entering the awards as it’s a chance not only to promote UWI’s work, but also to have our public relations and marketing activities assessed and recognised by an international panel of experts,” says De Four-Gill. “This is the third, consecutive ACU award for the UWI Marketing and Communications Department, as we were recognised for publication excellence in 2006 for the print version of ‘STAN’ and our ‘Experience UWI’ Undergraduate Prospectus.”

According to the ACU, the submissions for the 2008 awards were of such high quality that the process of choosing a winner in each category was particularly challenging. In some categories, two awards were granted. The bulletins and newsletter category–which UWI won for “The Pelican”–was the largest campaign category in the awards competition, with the most entries. The entries were judged based on innovation, creative thinking, understanding of readers’ interests, and the extent of the publications’ appeal to their target audience. The visual strength of “The Pelican” was highly commended by the judges. Complementing the editorial, and serving to draw the reader deeper into the story, the photography used in the magazine was dubbed as “creative” and “powerful”.

Distributed locally and internationally, and produced by an editorial team spanning UWI’s three, main campuses, “The Pelican” is the University’s flagship magazine, and aims to differentiate itself from UWI’s other existing campus newsletters. Featuring articles from a cross-section of UWI faculty, students and alumni, “The Pelican” provides the Caribbean, and those interested in Caribbean issues, with an insight into the University and the region.

UWI’s “STAN” magazine, which previously received an ACU award for publication excellence in 2006 for its print version, won the 2008 website category for its online version “STAN Online” based on its relevant editorial context, accessibility, clean and informed navigation, consistency in design, and application of the University’s identity throughout the website. “STAN” shares news and views about the research, community service and teaching programmes of the St Augustine, Trinidad Campus.  It is also easily accessible for all persons, including the visually impaired.

For this publication, UWI chose a contemporary design that used local images from regional photographers and artists, which complemented the editorial. A mixture of creative interviews, well-written feature articles and an up-to-date event calendar and photo gallery combine to create an interactive website that successfully promotes the campus and the UWI brand.

“STAN Online” is edited by former UWI Communications Manager, Mrs. Anna Walcott-Hardy, and was designed by graphic artist Ms. Kezia Payne who worked alongside UWI webmasters, Mr. Daren Dhoray and Mr. Kerry Bullock of Campus IT Services (CITS). “The Pelican” magazine, which is edited by Mrs. De Four Gill alongside Production Editor Mrs. Rhonda Jaipaul-O’Garro, has a multi-campus editorial team that includes Mrs. Elizabeth Buchanan-Hind, Ms. Janet Caroo, Ms. Cecile Clayton, Mrs. Celia Davidson-Francis, Ms. Carroll Edwards, Mrs. Marcia Erskine and Mr. Chelston Lovell. 

 The ACU launched its bi-annual PR, Marketing & Communications Awards in 2006 to share, encourage and reward good practice among higher education institutions. The winners are also promoted as exemplars of best practice in public relations and marketing for the higher education sector internationally. ACU membership comprises nearly 500 universities from the Commonwealth countries of Africa and Asia, Australasia and the South Pacific, Canada, the Caribbean, the United Kingdom, Cyprus and Malta.

All 2008 winners received bursaries to attend the ACU’s second, international conference, which was held in Durban, South Africa in July 2008, and had their entries displayed at the conference.

With the spotlight placed on UWI’s marketing and communications productions, one thing remains clear. Not only does The UWI provide quality education, its professionals – many of whom are graduates of the institution– continue to be examples of best practice in their respective industries.