The National Council for Marketing and Public Relations recently named Christine Payton, Director of Communications and Marketing at South Louisiana Community College, the National Communicator of the Year at the organization’s national conference recently held in Las Vegas.
Payton is the only person from Louisiana to receive this award since its inception in 1982.
“Since arriving at SLCC, Christine has been a tremendous asset to the college. With her sharp branding, media relations, and marketing skills, she has elevated SLCC’s profile as a dominant force among Acadiana’s and the state’s higher education landscape,” said Dr. Natalie Harder, SLCC chancellor.
Within five years, she has turned an office of one into a comprehensive marketing and communication team of four. With 18 years of higher education experience and proven leadership, Payton and her team are helping to increase student enrollment and producing measurable results.
“As one of 13 colleges that make up the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, SLCC’s overall communications and marketing efforts are among the best in our state and region. The success is due in large part to Christine,” said Quintin Taylor, chief external affairs officer for LCTCS.
A highly respected member of NCMPR and her peers, Payton volunteers in numerous capacities with NCMPR, including serving as the Louisiana representative on the District 2 Executive Council and as a frequent guest blogger. Outside of NCMPR, she is this year’s president of the Public Relations Association of Louisiana (Acadiana Chapter) and a founding member of the Acadiana Press Club. Payton has published articles in numerous periodicals and is a regular attendee and presenter at professional conferences.
“Christine is a wonderful educator and ambassador for the field of public relations and communications and clearly demonstrates her passion to advance the profession. I can think of no one more deserving of this award,” said Lana Fontenot, SLCC’s associate vice chancellor for Institutional Advancement.
Some of her more outstanding accomplishments include:
- Payton chaired the college’s website redesign committee, gaining feedback from key departments to develop the structure and content for the new site. The project was completed on time and within budget.
- With Payton’s oversight, the college has seen a sharp increase in earned and paid media. In the most recent academic year, media mentions grew to over 1,000. She’s also built a strong social media following and secured two trademarks to support South Louisiana’s brand.
- Payton has enhanced relationships with media, local government, business leaders and economic partners. Her efforts have increased awareness and financial support for the college and resulted in a major donation to complete a new health and sciences building.
- Payton serves on the college’s Strategic Planning Steering Committee and plays a critical role in the college’s strategic enrollment management initiatives. Through her efforts, SLCC is experiencing unprecedented enrollment growth, bucking the national trend.
- To bolster employee morale after the 2012 merger and state funding cutbacks, Payton successfully created and implemented an internal “It Starts With Me” brand campaign and weekly “Thank You Thursday,” showcasing employee contributions and enhancing internal relationships.
One of the most prestigious awards presented to an NCMPR member, the Communicator of the Year Award honors a two-year college marketing professional who has demonstrated leadership and ability in college communications. The Communicator Award is presented annually in each of NCMPR's seven districts, and district recipients automatically become a nominee for the national award.
SLCC’s Office of Communications and Marketing earned two Paragon awards also presented at the national conference. The college’s mortarboard ad series for enrollment won silver and a news story focusing on Open Educational Resources won bronze. NCMPR received 1,943 entries from 243 colleges and presented gold, silver and bronze awards in 53 categories.
The National Council for Marketing & Public Relations is the only organization of its kind that exclusively represents marketing and public relations professionals at community and technical colleges. As one of the fastest-growing affiliates of the American Association of Community Colleges, NCMPR has more than 1,550 members from more than 650 colleges across the United States, Canada, and other countries.