Q&A: Find out how Southwestern University is trying to increase brand recognition

Tim Cobb began serving as vice president for integrated communications at Southwestern University in July. He is an award-winning marketing strategist who most recently served as a senior marketing strategist and creative director at DHX Advertising in Portland, Oregon.

Cobb has held a variety of leadership positions at marketing agencies from Manhattan to Portland. He also previously served as president of the Portland Advertising Federation and the Oregon Marketing Association.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Oregon State University and a master’s degree in management from Purdue University.

GEO-2017-05-19-01Why did you take this job?

I’m specialized in branding in the marketing agency world. Some of my past clients included Florida State and Willamette universities. I loved the energy and people I worked with for those schools. But there’s also just these layers of bureaucracy and roadblocks that keep them from doing any sort of meaningful change. You don’t have those here. Everyone supports our vision, and there’s consensus and enthusiasm for change at Southwestern.

So what are you looking to change?

Quite a lot. Southwestern has always been well-respected in the academic community. But there’s been virtually no outreach. We’re finding we have low awareness for this wonderful institution throughout the state. It would be a shame if there’s a student who would have been perfect for Southwestern sitting in Abilene just because we didn’t introduce ourselves to them. So this year we reached out to kids on their terms, moving to a completely digital strategy. It paid dividends for us.

Have there been any major reorganizations in the communications department?

We’ve reorganized to function like an agency that serves different clients instead of dedicating staff to different marketing aspects. Staff members now act more like account supervisors assigned to each one of these ‘clients,’ like prospective students, current students, alumni and the local community.

How are you trying to enhance communication with the community at large?

There’s room for a tighter relationship with Georgetown. The city is part of the college experience and a
consideration for students before coming to Southwestern. I want the people of Georgetown to take pride in the university. But you can’t be proud of something unless you understand what makes it unique.

Are there any new initiatives with social media?

Our Facebook shares now average 1,500 engagements per post. Our retweets are up 138 percent over last year. This office will soon be doing much more video content. We just finished a drone video overlooking the campus. The other big initiative is [revamping] our website, which was originally produced in its current version in 2008.

How do you plan on changing internal communications?

Some students working on their capstone projects came to us because they wanted to improve internal communication at Southwestern. The research returned professionally done and thoroughly analyzed. They created six dynamite conclusions for new directions the marketing department should take—which included a new app for getting university alerts. These initiatives will be in the works soon after completing the website.

How has your expertise in branding for agencies played a role in your new position?

It’s what is required right now because the university has never been positioned correctly. Part of the appeal for deciding to take the job was that they’d even consider hiring me. In academia, you don’t hire outside of academia—which is really to their detriment. I don’t think someone that came from a background in academic marketing could do what was necessary here.

Spotlight on Southwestern

  • The Princeton Review ranked Southwestern University No. 11 in the nation on its “Best Schools for Making an Impact” list in 2017.

  • Forbes named Southwestern as the No. 1 undergraduate liberal arts college in Texas in its 2016 “Grateful Grad Colleges” list.

  • Kiplinger ranked Southwestern University No. 72 in its 2016 ratings for “Best College Value.”

  • Washington Monthly ranked Southwestern No. 67 among Texas liberal arts colleges based on their contribution to the public good.


Take a look at how coronavirus impacted Williamson County this week. (Chance Flowers/Community Impact Newspaper)
Take a look at how coronavirus impacted Williamson County this week

The county reported 596 total cases on May 29.

The Williamson County small-business grant program has issued more than $18.5 million as of May 29. (Ali Linan/Community Impact)
Williamson County small-business grant program issues more than $18.5 million

The program has aided more than 1,600 local businesses.

Williamson County and Cities Health District reported eight new cases of coronavirus May 29, bringing the county total to 596. (Screenshot courtesy Williamson County)
1 death and 8 new confirmed cases of coronavirus reported May 29 in Williamson County

Williamson County and Cities Health District reported the total number of cases at 596.

(Courtesy Fotolia)
New school schedules and a road opening: Latest news from Central Texas

Read the latest news from Community Impact Newspaper's coverage of the Central Texas area.

Williamson County reports additional coronavirus-related death May 28. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Williamson County reports additional coronavirus-related death May 28

“Our hearts are with the family who lost their loved one due to this deadly disease," Williamson County Judge Bill Gravell said.

Southwestern University has released a campus plan for the fall 2020 semester. (Ali Linan/Community Impact Newspaper)
Southwestern University releases campus plan for fall 2020 semester

The semester will begin Aug. 24 for in-person classes.

Outdoor venues in all Texas counties will be permitted to operate at up to 25% capacity starting May 31. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Spectators to be welcomed back to Texas outdoor sporting events May 31 at 25% of venue capacity

Venue owners must operate under guidelines that facilitate appropriate social distancing.

Georgetown business owners reflect on the impact of coronavirus. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Georgetown business owners reflect on the impact of coronavirus

“Being on top of the world and [just] crashing down was just heartbreaking," one business owner said.

Each eligible child will receive $285 in benefits. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
Some Texas students eligible for one-time federal benefit to aid with food purchases

Texas received approval from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to provide more than $1 billion in pandemic food benefits.

Williamson County judges are continuing to hold court even as the coronavirus pandemic forces the courts to enter digital spaces. (Chance Flowers/Community Impact Newspaper)
Justice continues in Williamson County even as courtrooms go virtual

Williamson County judges are continuing to hold court even as the coronavirus pandemic forces the courts to enter digital spaces.

Williamson County confirmed coronavirus cases have reached 588. (Screenshot courtesy Williamson County)
4 new coronavirus cases confirmed in Williamson County, which has reported more than 9,800 tests

Currently, 15 patients are hospitalized, and seven are in intensive care, per the report.