College Coverage (The Etownian) II

“Team committed to innovating marketing, communications strategies”

By Ragina Lashley


“The moment of truth. Elizabethtown College.” All of Etown’s prospective students buzzed about theirs when it was received in the mail. Everyone who earned acceptance into the College discovered that single white envelope protruding from their mailbox. As they opened the trademark blue envelope and devoured the white lettering in the center, it was the moment that some just knew that Elizabethtown was where they’d spend the next four years.

For the Office of Marketing & Communications (OMC), that moment originated from a commitment to quality and innovation, which Integrated Marketing Manager Donna Talarico said aimed to “make the students feel special…let them know what we’re all about.”

So far in 2013, OMC has earned 10 awards from the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) for the branding and project work they submitted (See News-Page 1). Their office is the center of all the College’s communications and where in-house publications such as the Bird Guide, the Elizabethtown Magazine, the viewbook, materials for prospective students, directories, and all social media and website design and management originate.

Committed to innovating the College’s communications, OMC is careful to ensure that all changes to their designs are efficient and purposeful. Most recently, the College’s website received an overhaul. Digital design manager Danilo Yabut bid adieu to the past header and footer and added new elements such as the “Wild Card Navigation,” a system to highlight events and departments on campus. Another change was made to the calendar system which proved to be an arduous process of figuring out a way to “[get] everyone to used the system.” Yabut said that his mantra in regard to the analytics aspect of his job is that “if something isn’t performing, get rid of it.”

As for the social media aspect of communications, Donna Talarico has single-handedly changed the face of Etown College by connecting with students, alumni, faculty, staff and prospectives via the web. Talarico keeps a “finger on the pulse,”ensuring that information is kept up-to-date and available for all to access through Facebook, Twitter, etc.
Talarico’s work has appeared in a variety of projects, including the view-book for Etown’s recruitment package.


The view-book’s development took approximately three months and included Yabut’s coordination of the photo shoots, Sheaffer’s visual designs and Talarico’s profiles. Talarico makes certain that her words possess clever and playful tones but still allow her to “portray [Etown] as serious, yet a fun place.” The branding video, which won a Silver CASE award for “Video Features” and a Bronze Telly Award, was a “great pride point,” Talarico said, because she “got to write the script and learn a different type of writing … [and] be a lot more concise.” Talarico’s aim to connect with the audience can be described as “being real and authentic…. We can’t always take ourselves too seriously.”
Cassie Meade, a junior graphic design intern at OMC, speaks of Sheaffer as “an extremely talented designer, and it is a privilege to be able to work with and learn from her.”
Sheaffer devotes careful consideration to the layout of a document, specifically adhering to a formula but still using the theme of “redefined” to maintain a positive image of the College. “We don’t do things just to do them,” said Sheaffer. “We have [the client’s] goals and objectives, so we figure out a solution, and that’s when we brainstorm … Every new job is a new project.”
When designing the College magazine, Sheaffer aims for something fresh and entertaining while still educating the magazine’s subscribers. Recent changes to the magazine have included varnishing, a tactile design element that creates a velvet-smooth cover and makes it difficult to put down. “By changing the paper, the way it folds, you can change the way a piece [feels],” Sheaffer stated.
Yabut’s favorite project so far has been “Battle of the Blues”, an Etown and Messiah College alumni challenge that raises donations for their respective alma maters. Yabut considered it “very successful.”
Concerning OMC’s recent success with the CASE awards, Yabut called them “amusing,” as he says the team is Type A in nature. “We won most, except for one … We reveled in the moment, but think, ‘How can I make that piece better?’”
“I think we screamed,” said Sheaffer. “Having that feeling of accomplishment was really great.”
Talarico said that receiving the awards was “such an achievement; with each additional one, we knew we did good work … [It was] a validation by our peers.”
The team doesn’t think of their job as theirs alone; they recognize the value of the interns that work with them, and also that of each other. Sheaffer stated her opinion on the importance of internship at the office: “We have our contributing writers for the magazine, the photography for the view-book, and our project managers. It’s important to give students the opportunity to understand criticism … a real-world learning experience, preparing them for graduation, [as it’s] valuable to take away and put on their resumés.”
Yabut said of his time at the OMC: “[I’m] satisfied with the group dynamic, but we wish for more time … but we’re going to do the best job we possibly can do. The work ethic here is great … the team, the willingness is great. Other places are cutthroat.”
Having only been together for approximately two years, the OMC’s work reflects their ultimate goal: to unify and portray the College as a pioneering environment of growth and success for all who come in contact with it.

Originally published for The Etownian here