University Marketing & Communications

July 7, 2015

Coordinating UW communications with monthly themes

Jack Martin

I hate buying toothpaste.

It isn’t because I don’t love a clean, fresh smile – I get rave reviews from my dentist, by the way – it’s because there are so many kinds of toothpaste from which to choose. I stand in the aisle for entirely too long, debating not just which brand to buy, but even which of the various types of Colgate or Crest are the “best,” even though they’re probably all just about the same.

Being paralyzed by choice is a common affliction among humans and at the University of Washington, we are “afflicted” by a multitude of great stories.

How do we choose which ones to tell?

To help us bring structure to our decision-making process and to increase coordination across our communications, we’re launching monthly message themes. These themes align with our brand pillars, as well as with key strategic considerations throughout the academic year.

By narrowing down the key messages we’ll pursue at any given time – for example, promoting stories about the Leading-edge Student Experience prior to the start of the academic year and the lead up to the Oct. 1 application opening – we can better evaluate which stories to pursue. And by aligning our communications, we’ll all be sharing similar stories at the same time. This will enhance the effect of our individual stories, while also providing better opportunities to amplify each others’ work.

It’s important to note that these themes aren’t designed to be rigid and uncompromising. If you have a great research story, you don’t have to wait until the next Proven Impact month to promote it (but you should remember it for the next time that theme rolls around – content can and should be reused). Similarly, News & Information, while being an outstanding source for themed content, will continue to pitch newsworthy stories of all stripes when they break.

The most visible spotlights for the themes will be on the homepage and on social media, which will use the hashtags listed with each theme. We want to know about your stories that align with upcoming themes so that we can include them in our content planning. And social content that aligns with these themes and uses the hashtags will have a greater likelihood of being shared by central accounts.

I’m happy to answer any questions ( you might have about how to best integrate these themes into your communications planning. Together, we will create a world of good – and coordinated! – communications.

See this year’s themes on