The New York University Silver School of Social Work

Background

The New York University Silver School of Social Work has been at the forefront of clinical education and social change for more than 50 years. The roll out of a new Strategic Plan, underscoring the Dean’s vision to more closely integrate research and clinical work, expand globally and increase student and faculty diversity, required new messaging and brand positioning. This came at a time when other leading schools had staked out brand identities in clear and aspirational language, and as competition for students, faculty and research funding all were increasing.

Our Work

Working with the Dean of the School and the head of marketing and communications, we began our engagement by conducting a competitive analysis of more than a dozen graduate schools of social work, assessing student demographics, placements, and key messaging. We then carried out focus groups and individual interviews among 70 faculty, students, alumni, donors, and employers of Silver graduates seeking insight into the distinctiveness of Silver programs, core strengths and challenges, the value of a Silver degree, and the impact of graduates on the individuals and communities they serve.

Impact

A key challenge to Silver’s repositioning was to elevate the growing role and impact of research at a school historically known for its exemplary clinical work. The new messaging highlighted Silver as an innovator, moving the field forward. Building on a legacy of commitment to social and economic justice, messaging focused onservice to diverse, global communities and the intersection of research and clinical, where research informs practice and practice informs research. Silver intended to apply the messaging across multiple platforms for use by the admissions and placement departments, donors, faculty recruiters, and others. The new messaging was integrated into a broad strategic communications plan MTC created for the School.