By Madeleine Thompson
After two years as Kenyon’s social media director, Josh Fitzwater will leave his post on Feb. 14 to become director of digital strategy and accounts for Cement Marketing in Columbus. Fitzwater was Kenyon’s first social media director, and has been responsible for developing the College’s presence on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube, and for facilitating the transition from a print to a digital focus. His posts have reached prospective students, alumni and parents who want to follow Kenyon online.
Fitzwater saw Kenyon’s call for a social media director online while working as a copywriter and social media manager at Franklin University in Columbus. He applied the day before its application closed and was called to the Hill the same week. “[I] had a seven hour interview with just about everybody who was alive on campus,” Fitzwater said. “They didn’t know what to expect with a social media person — if this person was just going to manage content or if they were going to move the needle forward.” He was, of course, hoping to do the latter, especially because Kenyon was not noticeable as an online entity at the time. What really convinced him to take the job was the offer of the “keys to the castle” in terms of digital marketing. “I had a lot of creative freedom,” Fitzwater said.
During his time at Kenyon, Fitzwater has worked with several different Kenyon departments to promote their brands. One of these collaborations resulted in the blog “Acceptance Letters: Parents, College and Letting Go,” to which Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid Jennifer Delahunty is a contributor.
“I just felt like we needed to more directly address parents, because if you give them appropriate information I think they’ll understand their role in the whole process,” said Delahunty, who has worked with Fitzwater on several projects. “[Fitzwater] was part of the whole integrated marketing plan, and when we do something in print or in email he would put it out into the social networking sphere. We didn’t have a Twitter account before Josh showed up.”
The project Fitzwater calls the “feather in his cap,” however, is the layout of the Along Middle Path section of the Kenyon website. “[Along Middle Path] is a content aggregator that … gives us the ability to post stuff in real time,” Fitzwater said, calling it Kenyon’s “CNN page.”
In addition to that, Fitzwater enjoyed getting to write for the 18 promotional videos author John Green ’00 filmed at Kenyon and shot in the short span of two and a half hours. “I got to put my John Green hat on,” he said.
Unfortunately, the things Fitzwater did not get to accomplish are “like everything.” One idea that did not come to fruition was to have an interactive prospectus, or playbook, for prospective students. Fitzwater wanted to create a prospectus where, for example, visitors could “flick the weathervane on top of Peirce” and it would spin. This, in addition to having a Kenyon smartphone app, is not in the cards. “We realized that the website we were creating sort of does [what we wanted an app to do],” he said. “[The website] is really mobile friendly and has a lot of the same information.”
As for his replacement, Fitzwater hopes Kenyon is “able to keep the needle going forward and do really cool stuff. I think we’ve barely scratched the surface of what we can do digitally.”