Big Ideas Communication Speaker Series

Anna Masciandaro

One of the first things I heard about at the Foundation was the Big Ideas Campaign. I knew what the 12 Big Ideas were and how they came to fruition, but I didn’t know about all the collaborative and interdepartmental work that goes into rolling out a comprehensive campaign. Luckily, the other interns and I had an opportunity to talk with Jessica Miller, the Associate Vice President of Campaign and Board Operations, and Renee Mathys, the Associate Director of Public Relations, to learn more about Big Ideas and the surrounding communication.

At the speaker session on July 15th, one of the key things the speakers brought up was how multidisciplinary the 12 Big Ideas are which requires a multidisciplinary approach to marketing them. Not only do they work with each other to roll out the campaigns, they also work with prospect development (among others) and utilize data to determine how to best market to stakeholders. It was also interesting to hear about the different ways they’re trying to reach their target audience or get the word out. In addition to using the typical outreach channels (email, newsletters, social media), the Foundation is also looking to expand into Hulu and YouTube ads where viewers would get a Big Ideas ad based on the content they’re streaming.

Creating a fundraising initiative, like Big Ideas, is more than coming up with the topics, it’s also about making sure people know about them. With 12 distinct Big Ideas, Jess and Renee emphasized the importance of making sure that while they’re easily distinguishable from each other, they also need to be cohesive in how they’re branded. Not only do they have to consider Foundation branding when creating communications materials, they also need to think about the Rutgers brand and creating a brand house instead of a house of brands.

One of the biggest challenges with advancement communications is coming up with messaging that gets the point across, sustains people’s interest, and maintains brand identity but doesn’t sound repetitive. That being said, what stood out the most to me during the session was the sheer amount of content that the communications team is able to develop with input from the campaign team. From creating the landing pages for each Big Idea to developing and timing social media posts with email and newsletter blasts, it’s truly impressive the amount of content that communications is able to create with a team of 17 people.

Attending this speaker series truly made me appreciate all the behind the scenes work that goes into advancement communications and how much teamwork and collaboration it requires. When you look at the landing pages for Rutgers Big Ideas you only see the final product. You never see all the drafts and scrapped copy or the multiple edits of the videos. With this speaker session, I have a newfound appreciation of all the hard work that goes into large fundraising initiatives, especially those as extensive as Big Ideas.


Anna Masciandaro is a Futures in Advancement Intern with the Campaign & Board Operations and Prospect Development teams

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