No longer content as the “best kept secret in the South,” Mississippi State University plans to make its presence known with a resounding clang—or rather a clanga.
That’s the sound of 50,000 cowbells ringing wildly in Davis Wade Stadium during football season. And university officials hope it echoes through social media as fans and alumni “ring true” with tools launched as part of a new university initiative.
“Our supporters tell us they want to know more about the cutting-edge research and life-changing programs at Mississippi State,” said Sid Salter, the university’s chief communications officer. “Our goal is to provide them with the information and tools to not only keep them informed, but also help them share stories of our success with the world.”
It started with the concept of “ringing true,” a play on words meant to bring to mind Mississippi State’s most unique spirit symbol, the cowbell, and reinforce the idea that the 137-year-old land-grant institution still exemplifies its founding principles of learning, research and service. This idea formed the foundation of a series of television commercials launched last fall and also spawned #WeRingTrue, a social media hashtag that allows people to easily find, follow and contribute to conversations about the university. Now, the phrase is the basis of a new university branding initiative.
Launched this fall, the We Ring True campaign has led to the development of new and re-imagined ways to share information. This includes campus-focused programs meant to celebrate everyday successes and cross-platform communication tools to help the Mississippi State community at large stay informed and share the stories surrounding its university.
The university website, www.msstate.edu, was among the first platforms re-launched under the branding initiative.
Following its first major overhaul in more than seven years, the website now features a more modern look that automatically adjusts to the user’s screen, whether it’s a desktop, laptop, tablet or smartphone. It also has a new structure that highlights original content including Our People, a weekly spotlight of a campus personality; the State Spotlight photograph; short videos about university research and activities; and campus news, announcements and events. The individual Web pages for each of these elements has links so visitors can easily share the content on their social media feeds.
“The first step to spreading the Mississippi State story is creating and sharing content that tells it,” Salter explained.
Found at www.social.msstate.edu, the hub quickly gives visitors the latest news and information about the university, while providing access to all of the official social networks associated with Mississippi State.
“This new hub gives visitors a 360-degree view of our people, places, activities and accomplishments,” Salter said.
In addition to posts about campus news and university research and activities, the social media hub also includes The MSU Experience, a feed that features photos and videos through which members of the campus community share their personal experiences.
“These stories prove that no matter who you are or where you come from, Mississippi State is a place where you can find more opportunities to lead, participate and excel,” Salter said.
By signing up for the free #WeRingTrue program at WeRingTrue.com, Twitter users agree to have select tweets about university pride points, campus life, news and events shared through their handles. The messages can then be easily adapted for other social media platforms.
“This feature taps into the voices of students, faculty, alumni and the entire Mississippi State community,” Salter said. “They are our ambassadors to the world, and now they have a convenient tool to promote the many great things happening here every day, especially in the realm of academics and research.”
The #WeRingTrue program capitalizes on the same technology as Virtual Cowbell, which the athletic department successfully launched last year to promote Bulldog sports and student athletes. With these complementary tools, Mississippi State becomes the first university in the nation to tell both its athletic and academic stories to Twitter users through this innovative technology.
Salter said the Bulldog community can expect additional communication tools and programs to be announced as the We Ring True campaign grows in response to how university partners wish to send and receive information.
Those wishing to participate in the We Ring True campaign can find information and access to the tools through the university’s website and social media feeds, which are also the best source for up-to-date information about what’s going on at Mississippi State.
“We’re growing in so many positive ways, not just in our enrollment but also in the quality of research, programs and activities that the university provides,” Salter said. “We’re also seeing increased engagement from faculty, staff and alumni who are playing active roles in carrying that momentum forward.
“With these tools, the Bulldog family can more easily and effectively let the world know that Mississippi State excels at developing the community and economic leaders of tomorrow and conducting world class research that will shape our future.”