How Michigan State reinvented the president’s report

The annual document meant to inform alumni and donors what the university has done in the past year has become a multimedia PR campaign that’s drawing huge amounts of attention.

Heather Swain, vice president for communications and brand strategy at Michigan State University, knew going into the plan for the new president’s report that she was doing something very different from the norm.

“I could take this money and put in advertising,” she says. “I’d get a certain number of eyeballs on it, and I’d get them in a certain kind of way. Here, I’m investing the money in getting the content. Then, I’m using free tools through social media to get people to interact with it in a really personal kind of way.”

The “Spartans Will 360” president’s report isn’t just a printed report, a website, videos, and some social media support. It’s a two-month event in which content teams are spanning the globe to tell real stories of MSU researchers through articles, blog posts, and videos.

The approach, though a huge undertaking, is paying off. This year’s report website has earned more visits in one month than the previous one got in an entire year.

Completely fresh

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