April Fools!


April Fools! Gotcha, didn’t we?! No – Sam D. Eagle is NOT the new face of UMW, no matter how nimble he is! (But…it does make for an intriguing viewbook cover, doesn’t it?) In University Relations we often get questions about how we come up with our ads and branded photos, which are showing up in more and more places. And we realize that it seems to some of you that we just threw them together with no thought behind them.

Not true!

It all starts with our organized photo shoots, which we usually have twice a year. Maria Schultz, our assistant director of design services, coordinates these shoots. And they are a process, as she explains below.

Step 1. Recruit!

This year, we created a webpage through which students interested in serving as models could submit an application. We pushed out the casting call via social media and a few old-fashioned print flyers. With one posting on social media we had more than 60 applicants! (And no – Sam D. Eagle did not apply. Darn!)

Branded Shoot Process

Step 2. Sort!

Then begins the tough work of winnowing. Who’s got great minds and interesting stories? What students are involved in campus activities and service work? Who’s going to be comfortable in front of a camera? Whose class schedules fit with the shooting timeline? Do we have enough diversity? These are all the factors we keep in mind when reviewing applications.


Step 3. Meet!

After narrowing the pool to 11 students, members of the University Relations staff met during a working lunch to get to know the potential models, and make final selections. Present at the meeting were:

Photographer Norm Shafer
University Marketing director Malcolm Holmes
Associate Vice President for University Relations Anna Billingsley
Branding Coordinator AJ Newell,
Assistant Director of Design Services Maria Schultz
Graphic Designer Amy Alexander
Production Manager Kathy Johnson
Media and Public Relations Director Marty Morrison
Videographer Jason Varga

Step 4. Decide

One of the most time-consuming steps is to think about the type of picture we want to compose with each model. Some of the questions we ask ourselves are:

How do we best portray each students’ interests?
Does this represent the UMW brand and culture?
Where will we take the photos? On campus or off campus?
Which headlines would work best with which images?
Can we properly light the space?
Does the photo tell an accurate and authentic story? Does it represent UMW well?
What should the models wear?
What kind of props will we need?

This part of the process takes several weeks, we consult with students, we explore campus and look for new perspectives, we check in with the experts at Educational Marketing Group, our branding company, and we think, and we re-think.

Believe you me, this planning process is no yes-brainer. It requires the work of many great minds. But hey – it’s how we think!

Let us know what you think. And please stop by and see us in Suite 300 of Eagle Village.


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