Established in 1836, Emory University is known globally as a leader in higher education and one of the nation’s top research universities. One of their most recent ventures: assisting in the research of COVID-19 and search for its vaccine. It goes without saying, we were thrilled to have the opportunity to speak with Rasheda Adbullah Hairston, coordinator for Emory’s Advancement and Alumni Engagement (AAE), Marketing and Digital Strategy (MDS) and Content & Creative Strategy (CCS) teams, and share her journey with MediaValet.
MDS & CCS recognized they needed a solution to address the growing number of assets requests they received from partners across the AAE division. Despite experiencing significant team growth, it was still near impossible to keep up with the demands of their 40 schools, academic units, and health care partners. Emory needed to establish a process that could scale, without compromising on security.
So, how does the leading university’s AAE marketing and creative teams keep up with the demand for assets today? Find out in Rasheda’s interview below.
Can you tell me a little bit about Emory University?
“Emory University is a private higher education institution in Atlanta, GA, with some of the world's most renowned faculty and academic programs. Many of our researchers are instrumental in finding solutions to some of today's most pressing issues, including helping to find the COVID-19 vaccine.
When the pandemic first happened, Emory University researchers were on the front line for the trials of the vaccine and worked closely with the CDC."
Can you tell us more about yourself, your background and what you do at Emory?
“Yes, I’m a Project Coordinator on the Marketing and Digital Strategy team and support the CCS team in the Advancement and Alumni Engagement division. This division works with schools and units across the university to help raise money for everything from scholarships to endowments to programs that enable students to attend Emory (such as exchange students).
My team collaborates with our CCS team to strategize for and create materials such as proposals and reports, website content, digital stories, social media content and more for our partners across the division who are on the front lines of engaging alumni, soliciting, stewarding and cultivating donors. We’ve had $100,000 to $100 million proposals that the CCS team has been instrumental in writing and designing, so that the frontline fundraisers can ensure donors will give money to the university. Our donors play an important role in our ability to support our students, schools and programs across the university, so what we do really is important.”
Can you tell me how your team operated and communicated before using MediaValet?
“Before implementing MediaValet, we would filter asset requests from 40 areas across the enterprise. Requests could be anything from reports and proposals to brochures and statistic sheets – things that really help our frontline fundraisers give credibility to their asks for the donors. We stored everything on a shared server that only our team had access to, and if a request was made, we would have to go on the server to find it. While the server was organized by schools and units, the folders within each of those sections weren’t very organized, so it was challenging to search for any given asset.”
What initiated your search for a digital asset management solution (DAM)?
“Filtering all of our partners’ asset requests was becoming unmanageable. Our team, alone, has grown so much in the last few years to try to accommodate all the requests. We needed a better, more definitive process for accessing assets – and we needed them to all be in one place, where clients could easily access and download them. Equally as important was to be able to control what they could do, so which assets they could access and what they could do besides downloading, so that's when we started to search for a DAM.”
What made you select MediaValet over alternative vendor options?
“It was our leadership that initially saw the need to make our assets more readily available for our partners and spearheaded the initiative. They looked at several DAMs, but ultimately chose MediaValet because it was the most robust and user-friendly option.”
Can you describe how you're using MediaValet today?
“We now use MediaValet as a repository for the assets that our partners use on a regular basis. Any time there's a new project, our designers upload the completed files to MediaValet, where the client can quickly find it. We have a thought-out category structure and clear naming convention that we encourage clients to follow, so that it's easier to search uniformly within the DAM.
We have about 90 active users, which primarily include our own team, as well as what we call ‘super users,’ which are individuals that represent the various schools and units and act as the DAM point of contact for their teams. Super users have relatively open access, where they can manage and upload assets, and create Branded Portals and lightboxes. If they have any questions, they reach out to me as the main administrator (and anything that I can’t answer I pass on to my Customer Success Manager at MediaValet). Everyone else has guest or member permissions, as well as category restrictions that are dependent on their school unit.”
Can you share the advantages you’ve seen from implementing ‘power users’?
“One of the advantages of having a super user for each school or unit is that there’s a dedicated representative more readily accessible to upload, change, delete or manage any asset specific for that unit. If a school or unit chooses not to assign a super user, we’re still able to manage assets for them, but it’s on our timing and schedule. For example, our HR department didn’t assign a super user, as they use the DAM so rarely.
Another advantage is communicating new features. Our Customer Success Manager is great with letting us know when there are new features available, like the cropping feature that was introduced at the beginning of the year. We’re able to just pass that information along to our super users and they disseminate the information to their group.”
Can you tell me more about the process that each ‘super user’ went through to get onboarded with MediaValet?
“Absolutely, we did super user training with our Customer Success Manager, which was so helpful. We did it in groups of 10-12 to ensure that people were able to ask questions and feel confident with the system. We also established a MediaValet toolkit, which has Q&As and information about their role as a super user.”
You also mentioned your category structure – can you tell us a bit about your strategy for that?
“We used a lot of our category structure from our existing server, but we also needed to take our partners and how they would search into consideration. Just because the category structure seems intuitive as designers and creators doesn’t mean it will be intuitive for others, so we did make some compromises in how we would typically structure things. Ultimately, our goal was to ensure that MediaValet would be user friendly for everyone.”
Has there been a standout feature that you find particularly useful?
“Branded Portals really come in handy for us, especially when it comes to managing social media content and digital assets for our events. We have several major events throughout the year, like Homecoming and Emory Cares- An international service day dedicated to living Emory’s mission of serving humanity. For each of these different events we'll create a Branded Portal, give it some 'razzle dazzle' with a banner and add assets from each event, like videos, images, and social media posts. We even use Branded Portal sections to separate what to post on social media each week. Branded Portals have been one of the most impressive and most used features - our team praises it often.”
What’s the next step for you with digital asset management and MediaValet?
“We already love MediaValet! When we were doing the training, I was really blown away. The feedback we’ve gotten and continue to get from super users and other DAM users, about how much they love it and use it every day is amazing. MediaValet is working really well for us right now and I’m excited to just continue to grow with it and take advantage of new features as they are introduced.”
What advice can you give to others looking into DAM?
“I would say to have flexibility. When we initially implemented MediaValet, our plan was heavily focused on using a templating integration for our designers. After some time, we decided that the templating solution wasn’t going to be a fit for us, but we worked with MediaValet to pivot our use case to using the DAM as a library for our main-use assets and that has worked out amazingly well.
Now, I continually get feedback from people on our team and leadership about how much they absolutely love MediaValet. So, in the end, it was a really good choice to pivot our use case.”
One last question, just for fun - what is your dream vacation spot and why?
“I’d love to travel around to places like Dubai, Egypt, the Maldives, Santorini, and Europe on a few-month vacation - living without a care. I just want to take three months, and just find myself in the world. That’s my dream vacation.”
MediaValet is a leader in cloud-based digital asset management that helps organizations manage, organize and share their digital assets, improving productivity and increasing ROI. See MediaValet in action today.