November 2008

New River faced a variety of challenges in its attempt to carve a niche among southeastern West Virginia’s  institutions of higher education.

Image Associates, LLC worked with New River as its marketing and public relations firm to brand the college for the emerging infrastructure in southern West Virginia. Through thorough study and evaluation of the college’s operations, Image Associates identified the single largest impediment to the success of the college as the absence of a clear identity for the institution. This should not be surprising given the fact that New River Community and Technical College was created, in part, with pieces from existing institutions.

Image Associates created an identity for New River Community and Technical College through a coordinated advertising and public relations plan. We postulated that advertising would help raise consumer awareness through a targeted media buy aimed at increasing enrollment for the coming semester. Advertisements were placed in statewide newspapers and billboards were designed and displayed in the college’s target areas. The public relations activity served not only to support the advertising campaign but also to provide a consistent awareness level throughout the college’s nine-county area of responsibility.

As a result, fall enrollment figures at New River’s four campus locations increased 33 percent over last year’s enrollment. The figures reflect enrollment at all four campus locations. The most significant increase in enrollment occurred at New River’s Beckley campus; high school graduates represented a large portion of the increase.

“Seeing an enrollment increase among recent high school graduates is directly attributable to our increased visibility,” says Dr. Ted Spring, president of New River. Image Associates’ campaign thrust New River Community and Technical College directly into the public’s eye, ultimately creating an increased awareness throughout southern West Virginia. The result: 2007 enrollment increased 33 percent and New River prospered. Administrators believe the continued campaigns of Image Associates will sustain and even increase the upward trend of enrollment in the coming years.