Event Theme and Goals
Homecoming & Reunion is the biggest event of the year for the Office of Alumni Relations at Rice University. The communications team begins planning the event theme and marketing strategy a year in advance. When I began at Rice in January of 2017, plans were already underway. The team had settled upon a creative approach featuring colorful illustrations of the trees and squirrels for which Rice is known. The goal was to remind Rice alumni of their essential role within a strong community—one with many branches and deep roots.
Social Media Campaign Strategy
I was tasked with creating a social media campaign strategy that suited the event theme while meeting three primary goals: strengthening the alumni connection to Rice as home, increasing event participation and growing the Rice Alumni presence on social media.
With this in mind, I developed “Flat Owly,” a concept that addressed these goals by taking a familiar design feature of past Homecoming & Reunion visual and promotional materials and bringing that element to life in 2017 through creative storytelling.
Three Phases of Flat Owly
Flat Owly was designed as an interactive (punch-out) portion of the Homecoming & Reunion 2017 brochure intended to engage alumni on social media and during homecoming programming.
Internal Phase: Collection of internally-generated photos
Goals: To demonstrate a variety of ways to use/photograph Flat Owly for alumni before they receive their own; to bank collateral to use throughout the campaign.
Board members and Development & Alumni Relations staff were provided with a card-stock Flat Owly of their own. Their task: take photos while holding or placing Flat Owly in the foreground of buildings, events, landscapes, as well as in “selfies” with fellow Owls.
External Phase: Create Buzz and Inspire Action
Goals: To engage alumni in demonstrating where they are and what they are doing in the world through the launch of the Flat Owly story on social media and by sharing alumni-generated Flat Owly photos posted with the event hashtag #RiceHC17.
Alumni were provided with a punch-out Flat Owly and introduced to the concept through our social media channels, website, print material and email.
Live Phase: Flat Owly at Homecoming & Reunion 2017
Goals: To continue engaging alumni through social media during the event.
Alumni were provided with hand-held fans featuring the Flat Owly design with which they could continue to take photos. Flat Owly was also at the center of a staged Rice Alumni social media takeover of Rice University Public Affairs’ channels during the event weekend. A Facebook profile “frame” featuring Flat Owly allowed alumni to join the fun from wherever they are.