ACCU 2016 Recap: 5 Things Catholic Institutions Look For In Marketing Agencies

Posted on March 02, 2016

Last month, I had the pleasure of attending the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities’ annual meeting in Washington, D.C.—an event that, as you may already know, brings together presidents of Catholic institutions, renowned scholars,  and more to celebrate the charisms of Catholic higher education. It was truly an inspiring weekend, and while there, I had the privilege of chatting with more than 20 presidents about the challenges their institutions face today.

If you happen to represent a Catholic institution and are looking for help refreshing your brand, you may be interested in one question in particular that came up during my conversations. CCA has enjoyed a number of partnerships with Catholic institutions, so I had to ask:

As a leader of a Catholic institution of higher education, what do you look for in a marketing communications firm when you need help building your brand and creating a unique identity? Or based on your experience, what’s your advice to others?

Here are five responses, which hopefully, you’ll find helpful as you seek the right partner for you.

1. “Expertise with Catholic higher education. The speed and competitive advantage you can gain working with marketing communications experts, who know Catholic education and our competition, is invaluable when it comes to getting results.”

2. “Dedication to higher education. A firm that derives most of its revenue from consumer products and services often proves to be expensive and may not focus much on institutions. So, seek a firm whose primary line of work serves the needs of higher education institutions and understands the realities of budgets normally associated with independent colleges and universities.”

3. “Resource and strategy. We hired a firm that integrated research and strategy. They quickly delivered valuable primary research, and then strategically worked to deliver a brand and communications approach to our challenges. It was also a plus that they had years of experience on campuses doing research and strategic development work with faculty and staff.”

4. “Digital savvy. We felt that it was important to work with a firm that was digitally led and digitally driven. With enrollment and alumni communications at the center of our institution’s challenges, reaching young alums and prospective students became a digitally driven game.”

5. “Experience with graduate audiences. We needed a plan to grow our adult student and graduate education programs, and we needed immediate success;  graduate education is critical to our future. That’s why hiring a firm with specific expertise in that area was a must for us.”

These are just a few of the insights I gleaned from my weekend in D.C. If you’re interested in sharing notes or hearing more about the meeting, in case you missed it, I’d be happy to connect with you. Feel free to contact me anytime at, or take a look around CCA’s website to get an idea of our work in this special vertical. (Thanks for the great opportunity, ACCU!)

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