At Firespring, we often say, “Our mission is to help you accomplish yours,” which is more than just a tagline—it’s our passion, really. We’re here to be a part of something bigger than ourselves and to help brands, both for-profits and nonprofits, further their cause, achieve their goals and make the world a better place. And, man, when that happens, we celebrate right along with them.

This was the case with Southeast Community College (SCC) and the Choose You recruiting campaign we recently developed for them. While we were humbled to receive a Prism award for our work on this campaign last March from our local American Marketing Association (AMA), it’s the success that SCC experienced in their recruiting efforts that really got us popping the bubbly and clinking our glasses.

Here’s a quick behind-the-scenes of our work on SCC’s Choose You campaign.

The need:

SCC wanted a recruitment campaign that embodied the diversity of its student body and academic programs, but that also broke through the stigma of community colleges and their “limitations.” So, we created an integrated campaign that encouraged prospective students to take the first step toward an education that could turn their passion into a career.

“This was an exciting opportunity to help our community view SCC in an entirely different light. Our team was blown away when we were shown what the college had to offer. It had many of us scratching our heads wondering why we thought taking the community college path was a bad idea,” according to our own Ashley Kumpula, account manager for this campaign.

The challenge:

Because many believe that community colleges don’t provide the best path to a successful future, Southeast Community College faced recruitment issues. They also dealt with the perception that its three campuses are outdated in terms of facilities, programs and opportunities.

Top this all off with the emergence of COVID-19, and recruiting new students became a tough uphill battle. No one knew how schools would operate during a pandemic, let alone how safe and effective classes would be held for hands-on trade programs. With so much uncertainty at play, prospects were putting their education plans on hold.

The solution:

We produced an integrated campaign with one primary objective—to help grow the number of student applications beyond what SCC received the year prior. The second objective was to educate their target audience about how SCC is on par with larger schools, yet it offers the benefits of lower tuition and faster paths to well-paying careers. In addition, all campaign messaging instilled confidence that SCC was taking necessary safety precautions in light of the pandemic.

This integrated campaign would tie to a polished, conversion-optimized landing page to accept new applications.

The strategy and plan:

Our Firespring creative team worked with actual SCC students, shooting and producing a campaign hero video with motion graphics and integrating the custom assets to bring the landing page to life. Along with signature print pieces (including postcards and a welcome kit for regional guidance counselors), the campaign’s message and aspirational vibe resonated with prospective students. The campaign’s backbone consisted of high-energy digital assets that targeted high school students and adult learners in the counties that SCC serves.

“It was such a privilege to spend time with faculty, staff and students who are passionate about what they do—and to know they all exist in our own backyard is amazing,” Ashley said.


The results:

From October 1, 2018 to March 1, 2019, the school received 4,528 applications for its 2019 spring semester. One year later, 365 campaign leads submitted applications to SCC. In total, SCC received 4,712 completed applications for its spring 2020 semester, 7.7% of which came from the integrated campaign.


From those applicants, 40 students enrolled in at least one course for the 2020 spring semester for a total of 398 hours (which at the $108/hour came to a total of $42,984 for the college).

SCC’s Administrative Director of Public Information & Marketing, Stu Osterthun, was pleased with the results. “It is a pleasure working with the skilled professionals at Firespring. Their creativity and innovative thinking has really made our campaigns successful. They have truly become an extension of our marketing/recruiting staff.”

According to Ashley, “The future of the college is exciting, and we feel we captured the essence of the exciting new programs, technology and facilities that would make anyone want to be involved with SCC in one way or another.”

What can we do for your brand, business or nonprofit? If we can help you accomplish your mission too, get in touch with us.


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