How does an academic institution refine its communications?

How does an academic institution refine its communications?

For St. Petersburg College, the school’s purpose has been clear: prepare students for quality jobs. It’s the best value in town when it comes to fulfilling that mission.

But many around Pinellas County didn’t know all that SPC had to offer. In fact, some people even thought SPC was still a junior college. In reality, the school had grown to offer a variety of four-year degrees in addition to its associate degrees.

While the college has a top-notch marketing and communications staff, their efforts were primarily focused on enrollment in SPC’s degree programs. The marketing and communications messages were so wide-ranging that SPC’s value proposition was sometimes being lost in the mix.

How to rectify this situation, which had no simple answer? SPC hired B2 to audit its marketing and communications efforts, and to create an effective and strategic communications plan.   

B2’s Solution 

In 2022, B2 and its PR network partner Image Suite PR developed a plan that was designed to better focus St. Petersburg College’s communications and messaging.

First, we completed a thorough review of SPC’s materials and its competitors’ materials. Then, we interviewed more than 25 people in the community to get their thoughts about SPC, from elected officials to corporate executives to community leaders. And we “mystery shopped” SPC’s competitors, seeing how they responded to interest from potential students.

The result: A comprehensive communications plan that defined key messages, offered recommendations for communications focus areas, defined strengths and opportunities, and even included some ideas for a new tagline for the school.


SPC has made significant strides in its marketing and communications efforts since the plan was completed. B2 has focused much of its ongoing work on raising visibility for the school’s workforce development program, which has built a record of successfully matching graduates with jobs at corporate partners around the area.

B2’s partner Image Suite PR played a key role in helping SPC execute such marketing initiatives as online advertising, social media, and bus shelter billboards. A 30-day social media ad campaign was particularly effective, bringing in close to 350 leads. B2’s media relations work has worked hand in hand with the marketing push, with stories and columns being run in such outlets as the Tampa Bay Business Journal and the St. Pete Catalyst.

SPC’s workforce development program also got a tremendous boost from a Bank of America grant, which helped the college hire three dedicated people for the effort. And a Bank of America “leader on loan,” Melissa Gonzalez, has played a key leadership role for the program.

The workforce development program helped SPC match over 400 graduates with quality jobs in seven months, while the program grew its list of corporate partners to 600. And SPC is working on sharing these best practices with other area colleges, showing how academic institutions can work more closely with companies to fill job openings.