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Terry Flannery, AU's vice president of communications, explains the wonk concept at a public meeting in February 2014. 

Students react to WONK campaign at open forum

The University Marketing Advisory Council revealed the results of the stakeholder survey to the AU community at the KNOW/WONK Campaign Open Forum on Feb. 28 in MGC 4 and 5.

The event was held to have a dialogue about the WONK campaign and discuss the results of the survey, said Terry Flannery, vice president of AU Communications. The survey was sent out to the AU community in 2013 to gauge perception of the WONK campaign and AU as a whole.

“I really want to make sure everyone listens,” Flannery said. “This is an opportunity for our team to hear you, and for you to hear from our team.”

Flannery said that the WONK campaign has made progress, and that people now associate the word “wonk” with AU and focused on recommiting to a brand strategy.

Elizabeth Scarborough, CEO of SimpsonScarborough, the PR firm that helped develop WONK, said her professional recommendation is to stick with the WONK campaign and work with students.

Many students and alumni at the event asked questions and shared their opinions of the campaign. Reaction was diverse as many voiced their support for the marketing, but said they did not identify with the word “wonk.”

For the first half hour of the event, Flannery explained the University’s goals for the WONK brand strategy. Branding AU is part of the University’s strategic plan to win recognition and distinction as a university, Flannery said.

According to Flannery, the elements used to evaluate any AU campaign including WONK are:
-the percentage of freshmen that picked AU as their first choice
-the amount of people who accept an offer of admission
-awareness of AU as a university nationwide
-perception of academic quality
-alumni engagement

The 2013 survey reached out to 35,859 alumni using their alumni emails in which 3,516 responded, Flannery said. Surveys were also sent to the entire undergraduate population, which is 6,732, through student emails and 2,440 responded.

Funding for the WONK campaign will be reevaluated in April 2015 for the next budget cycle, according to Flannery.

Going forward, Flannery said she wants to continue the conversation about the WONK campaign and invited students to email and to talk to her about getting involved with a branding team or becoming one of the students representatives on the University Marketing Advisory Council next year.

Flannery would not provide the powerpoint used at the town hall to The Eagle, saying that the slides contained proprietary marketing information.

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