Marketing director position filled by Stephanie Stuart

Photo provided by Stephanie Stuart | Marketing and Public Relations

Photo provided by Stephanie Stuart | Marketing and Public Relations

Derian Silva

Staff Writer

Stephanie Stuart will be the new head of Parkland’s Marketing and Public Relations department, which is responsible for all of Parkland’s radio ads, informational posters, press releases, catalogues, website, and more.

Stuart describes her job at Parkland as a way of helping support the college’s students. 

“We are a community college serving the 505 district,” Stuart says. “We support the recruiting efforts, in terms of student enrollment. Students make a personal choice to come to Parkland, whether that’s after high school because they’re a community member or maybe they’re not a traditional student. We are an institution in the community that everybody knows, but we always want to get the word out about the great things going on at Parkland.”

Community outreach isn’t only for students; it is also for members of the community who wish to see more of what is going. Student plays, the art gallery, the planetarium, and theatre production are a few ways the community can engage with the college without attending classes.

The way marketing and public relations engages the community and students is through news stories about what’s going at Parkland.

Student outreach is important to Stuart and she makes sure that once students come to Parkland she hears them out. Her department works with the recruitment and retention office to learn more about students at Parkland.

“The goal is to help support students in getting the information they need to be successful,” Stuart says. 

“I always think there is more we can do to build relationships with students…” Stuart says. “We want to hear from students about their experiences. A lot of the posters that hang in the hallways originate from this office to help get the word out about different things that are happening around campus, we also touch on the information on the TVs and things in the portal.”

The most challenging part of Stuart’s job is being able to measure the response of students. There are a lot of logistics and great ideas that come up for students, but it can be difficult to gauge their effectiveness.

Stuart has many ideas for Parkland and a big project the department is working on right now is rebuilding the Parkland website. The new website will reflect the college’s “Go Ahead” branding campaign and provide a more current user experience than the website currently in use. The website will resemble the aviation program’s website and will be a lot more user friendly.

The new website will also be mobile friendly, which is extremely important for students who are constantly busy and more likely to access the site on their phones. Instead of having to zoom in and look for menus, it will be optimized for mobile. The department is hoping to roll it out later this year.

A local of Urbana, Ill., Stuart grew up in the community, and is a graduate of Urbana High School. She is a graduate of the University of Illinois, receiving her degree in journalism. While at the U of I, she was the editor of the Buzz, a weekly magazine affiliated with the Daily Illini.

“PR is really just brand journalism in a lot of different ways,” Stuart states.

Over time, Stuart has held different jobs in the world of public relations and marketing. After graduating, she went to Chicago before coming back to Champaign to work for Wolfram Research.

“I’ve always had public relations and marketing in my interest areas,” Stuart says. “After college, I worked in Chicago, fact checking for Chicago Magazine. Through that, I was offered a job in public relations here in Champaign at Wolfram Research. That opportunity opened a lot of doors for my career.”

During her time at Wolfram Research, Stuart worked in the technology sector, working with tech media, building relationships, creating speaking schedules, coordinating interviews and a lot more. She says it was a great experience for her, but she wished to become more involved with the community.

From Wolfram Research, Stuart transitioned to a new position as the Director of Communications & Community Relations for Champaign Unit 4 School District. During her time working there she was hands-on in planning process for the school district’s facility projects. When the superintendent started nearing retirement, it seemed to Stuart like the best time to find a new challenge.

Stuart found that challenge at Parkland and is now on her 7th week in her new role.

Stuart would like students to know that the marketing and public relations department is here to serve students.

“We’re here to celebrate your success. Our work – all of it – focuses on creating a community that supports you,” Stuart says. “We want to create positive conversations about what’s happening at Parkland that will then be cyclical and feed back into the institution. We are here as a support: to champion Parkland in the community, and students and faculty. We are your cheerleaders.”

To communicate any ideas or share a viewpoint, Stuart encourages students to email her at sstuart@parkland.edu.