UMass Amherst sets agency roster to boost enrollment

The University of Massachusetts at Amherst has enlisted a roster of firms to boost its profile among prospective students.

AMHERST, MA: The University of Massachusetts at Amherst has enlisted a roster of firms to boost its profile among prospective students.

The Amherst branch is the flagship campus of the UMass system with 25,000 students.

Element Productions won the first of two contracts that was put up for bid. The account is worth $450,000 and runs through May 2014. It is a new assignment.

“The goal is to raise the profile of the university on a national level and local level, and to showcase the core attributes of the university,” said Eran Lobel, CEO of the firm.

Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications will provide PR support as a subcontractor, while Element works on content creation and paid efforts such as TV advertisements.

The university wants to create a campaign that will lead to increased enrollment by making it students' first choice as they pick schools, according to agency search documents.

Element and Rasky Baerlein will conduct promotional activities for the campus' upcoming 150th anniversary. A key event will be “Stand for UMass” day in Boston, scheduled for Friday.

The RFP for the account was issued after a year of research about the university branch's brand. The results showed the importance of emphasizing the good the university has done for the state, such as its economic impact of $1.4 billion annually, according to John Kennedy, vice chancellor for university relations.

“It was clear to us that we needed to start telling our story and all the valuable things [happening] on our campus or we would suffer,” he said.

Marketing firm Gravity Switch won a second account to specifically promote UMass Amherst's Stockbridge School of Agriculture. The $50,000 contract will run through June 2014.

The scope of the account spans PR, Web development, and meeting support, according to the RFP.

The school is facing an enrollment struggle of sorts, said Gravity co-founder Jason Mark, who added that “a lot of what we're doing is understanding how they are positioning themselves now and how they are going to reposition themselves.”

University officials did not return requests for comment.

Last fall, the University of Massachusetts system hired O'Neill and Associates to provide PR services for its president's office.

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