On likes, retweets and filters: Meet the students behind the Stan Richards School’s digital brand, Texas AdGrad

The Stan Richards School of Advertising and Public Relations boasts world-renowned programs that foster students’ analytical and creative sides.  By combining academic theory with real world experience, students graduate with the skills they need to thrive in a world fueled by storytelling.

While some students wait until jobs and internships roll around to practice the delicate art of storytelling, others are diving right in with the help of Dr. Gary Wilcox.

For the last 7 years, Dr. Wilcox has served as the faculty lead for Texas AdGrad, the team behind the Stan Richards School’s digital identity.  He’s seen the group grow from a cluster of graduate and undergraduate students, to a team of 11 working like an in-house agency.

Over the past year and a half, Texas AdGrad revamped their strategy to celebrate the fascinating stories and success of the students, faculty and alumni of the school.

This year’s team lead, public relations senior Hugo Rojo, oversaw the introduction of the storytelling initiative, starting with the launch of AdGradLife.com, a new Tumblr site designed to be the content hub and driver of stories coming out of the newly-named Stan Richards School.

“Our School site still tells the official story of what happens with our faculty and research,” added Rojo.  “AdGradLife showcases what students are doing outside of the classroom, which industry leaders student organizations bring to campus, and think pieces about current trends in advertising and public relations.”

These students are not blindly writing stories. The Texas AdGrad team has a dedicated analytics division that feeds editorial with metrics on which stories perform best.

“The key to any successful social effort is producing content that people want to see,” said Chris Quintero, advertising and Texas Media senior. “This is the idea behind Netflix creating their own original series, which has driven their subscriber base up since the introduction of House of Cards.” 

“We analyze the performance of each media type across each separate platform, whether it’s a video, an alumni spotlight story or a photo,” added Quintero, who runs the team’s analytics. “We use that data to optimize where we run our content, what to make more of, and what we might need to rethink.”

Effective community management also plays an integral role in the stories the team shares with audiences that include prospective students, faculty, alumni and industry professionals.

The family of digital properties the team manages includes Texas AdGrad on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, Google+, a YouTube channel, and Weibo. The last is a recent addition to reach audiences in China since they don’t have access to networks like Twitter and Facebook.

Texas AdGrad looks ahead with initiatives that develop their audiences. Social media campaigns like their November mustache contest and their Mad Men and Super Bowl live-tweeting have helped the team connect with their followers in new ways.

“Our audiences have chosen to like and follow us because we’ve promised to deliver insightful stories and content,” added Rojo. “This year, we made a genuine commitment to delivering on that promise.”

The Texas AdGrad team relies on Spredfast, a social media management software run by a local company of the same name, to manage communities across their channels. This is yet another example of the Stan Richards School bringing cutting-edge industry technology to the classroom. 

With the sun setting on the 2014-15 Texas AdGrad cohort, take a moment to view their profiles and learn more about their time as part of the team and students at the Stan Richards School of Advertising and Public Relations.

   Chris Quintero   Amanda Wagner   

Amber Wang   Hugo Rojo   Jessie Neuendorff   Sydney Smith

Emily Danks   Jamie Darling   

Staff Writer