KCC’s Public Information and Marketing team wins national awards

The covers to KCC's NCMPR-award-winning publications, from left to right, "Blaze Goes to College," the Bruin Youth schedule and the KCC folder.

The National Council for Marketing and Public Relations on Tuesday, March 31, honored Kellogg Community College’s Public Information and Marketing Department with four prestigious Paragon Awards for the department’s efforts to recruit students, connect with the community and promote the College during the 2018-19 academic year.

The national awards include three first-place Gold Paragon Awards and the coveted Best in Show Award; KCC is one of just four colleges in Michigan to win a Paragon Award and is the only college in the state to win Gold this year.

The annual NCMPR Paragon Awards recognize outstanding achievement in design and communication at community and technical colleges, and the awards competition is the only national competition of its kind that honors excellence exclusively among marketing and public relations professionals at two-year colleges.

The competition this year included 1,963 entries in 53 categories from 261 colleges across North America and was judged by nearly 90 marketing and public relations professionals from around the country. The Best in Show Award was given only to KCC.

Award recipients were announced Tuesday in a virtual awards ceremony hosted on the NCMPR’s Facebook page. The NCMPR recently canceled its annual conference, which was to be held last week in Orlando, Fla. KCC won the following awards in the following categories:

  • Book or Specialty Publication (Gold and Best in Show), for the “Blaze Goes to College” children’s book. Paragon judges called the book clever and unique, while the marketing team members from Visit Orlando, who selected the Best in Show award winner from among the 53 Gold Paragon Award winners, called the book “in a league of its own for originality and cross-generational impact. … As a child, there’s no better feeling than mom or dad reading you a picture book before bedtime, and as adults, we know these special moments help forge lasting emotional connections. ‘Blaze Goes to College’ taps into this dynamic in a gentle, unobtrusive way, introducing young readers to a friendly place just down the road, where students are learning to be everyday heroes like nurses, artists, teachers, engineers and police officers.” Read the book for free on KCC’s website at www.kellogg.edu/blaze.
  • Class Schedule (Gold), for KCC’s Bruin Youth Summer Camp schedule, which promotes youth programming. Paragon judges praised everything from the offerings promoted to the publication’s design and organization. “Great cover, graphics, font usage and paper/ink combo,” the judges said.
  • Folder (Gold), for an informational folder designed for use by multiple KCC departments. “Using a folder to actually sell the college is a great idea,” the Paragon judges said. “Inside is a useful list of contacts plus a list of answers to ‘Why KCC?’ The use of photos on the front and back covers also make this folder a keeper.”

Dr. Adrien Bennings, President of KCC, said the Paragon awards indicate that the College understands the importance of marketing and excels in its efforts to connect with its target audiences, who range from young children and high school students to adults seeking specialized career training or education for personal interests.

“At KCC, we believe in creating strong connections with our students and community partners and we believe that strategic, effective communication strategies are critical in developing those relationships,” Bennings said. “KCC is blessed to have a team of marketing professionals who exceed the status quo. They encapsulate communication beyond words to engage audiences and convey the message in creative and meaningful ways.”

Eric Greene, KCC’s Chief Communications Officer and head of the Public Information and Marketing Department, said the institution is intentional in deploying its integrated marketing communication initiatives, which are designed to complement each other while communicating the College’s value to communities across Barry, Branch and Calhoun counties.

“Whether we’re reading a book about college to a gym full of kindergarteners, designing a billboard on I-94 or helping unemployed adults improve their interview skills, KCC is daily communicating a simple message: We’re here to help you with your next steps toward higher education and toward a fulfilling future,” Greene said. “We are thrilled that the NCMPR has recognized our hard work among peer institutions from across the continent.”

KCC’s children’s book, “Blaze Goes to College,” was written by Digital Marketing Manager Simon Thalmann and illustrated by KCC student Sara Parks. After KCC published the book in 2019, personnel visited area elementary schools to perform live readings.

Thalmann said the NCMPR award is an honor that amplifies what those familiar with the College already know: KCC is a special place doing special things in the community.

“If ‘Blaze Goes to College’ receives recognition or resonates with readers, it’s because the book is a reflection of the positive things that happen every day at Kellogg Community College and at community colleges around the country,” Thalmann said. “What you see in the book is representative of real-world experiences at KCC, where educators are providing rigorous, exciting, hands-on education to enrich lives of their communities. And that’s worth celebrating.”

KCC’s PIM Department provides a variety of in-house strategy development, marketing management, graphic design services, print and document services and public relations leadership on behalf of the College. Before today’s announcement, the department had won a total of three national Paragon Awards since 2012. The department has also won numerous regional Medallion Awards from the NCMPR over the years, including four in 2012, four in 2013, six in 2014, three in 2015, eight in 2016, nine in 2017, one in 2018 and 10 in 2019.

Department employees include Eric Greene, Chief Communications Officer; Kathy Jarvie, Media Design Manager; June Lewis, Print and Document Services Process Specialist; Mike Loader, Print and Document Services Process Specialist; Cab Rininger, Media Design Manager; Kristen Stolz, Department Specialist; Simon Thalmann, Digital Marketing Manager; and Andy Fitzpatrick, Communications Specialist. The PIM Department also employs part-time student employees as an opportunity for KCC students to learn valuable, on-the-job marketing, communication and design skills.

The NCMPR represents marketing and public relations professionals at community and technical colleges across the United States and Canada. Gold, silver and bronze Paragon and Medallion honors are awarded annually in a variety of marketing and public relations categories.

For more news about Kellogg Community College, view our latest press releases online at https://daily.kellogg.edu/category/news-releases.