Big Takeaways and Even Bigger News

Traveling from Chicago to National Harbor, Lipman Hearners Alexia Koelling and Kirsten Fedderke packed bags containing more than just a booth and business cards. An exciting piece of news was tucked away in those bags: news revealing the exciting merger of Lipman Hearne with Yes&, an Alexandria-based marketing agency. The new and improved Yes& | Lipman Hearne team was thrilled to share the announcement and start discussions on the amplified effect of joining forces.

As if this news wasn’t exciting enough, EVP Alexia Koelling had the honor of presenting the Higher Education Marketer of the Year award to past client-partner Kate Ledger, assistant vice chancellor for marketing at the University of Pittsburgh.

With all the big news unpacked from our bags, it’s time to compile our top takeaways from the conference. Keep reading to see what stood out to us this year!

  1. Eager for connections and best practice examples. This year’s conference contained a distinct sense of excitement and eagerness to come back together, share ideas, and celebrate one another. Many attendees came with a plan of action. One of the most common areas of interest at our booth was around brand and brand expression. An interesting question that we have been exploring since the pandemic, which forced everyone online and disrupted many institutions’ typical brand experiences on their unique campuses, is how a brand can extend beyond the confines of the physical campus and remain authentic. This level of engagement is important regardless of how people interact with the institution. With a desire to reconnect and learn, attendees readily exchanged ideas with a heightened push to share case studies and examples to inspire one another.
  2. Visitors from other sectors. One of our favorite parts of any conference are the smaller moments of interacting with other leaders in our space. While many of these discussions took place with experts and leaders in the higher education field, there was an increase in the number of speakers and attendees coming from outside this immediate field. Experts from various platforms and consumer brands demonstrated a vested interest in higher education marketing, an important reminder that there is always much to be learned beyond our sector.
  3. It’s (still) time to double down on social. Yes& | Lipman Hearne’s growing emphasis on social media was bolstered by messages emphasizing the rapidly evolving nature and continued investment needed in this area. These channels and their content are not simply “should haves” but “must haves,” meriting strategic, dedicated, and ongoing focus. Though some argue that social media has veered away from authenticity, we feel that there is an opportunity to bring social media back to its roots as a place to share and celebrate real, lived experiences. Whether it be on today’s platforms or those 30 years down the line, the value of an authentic brand is never to be underestimated.

As we settle back into the snowy Chicago winter, we’re already looking forward to next year’s conference. And spoiler alert . . . AMA’s Higher Ed Symposium will be right here in our Windy City backyard, and we hope to see you there. Have questions or want to chat more about higher ed marketing? Send us a message at!

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