The University of Maine (UMaine) hired Melwood in November 2015 to help create messaging and promote its innovative “Flagship Match” program. Flagship Match enables qualifying students from select states (New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Connecticut, Vermont, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Illinois, Rhode Island, and California) to attend UMaine for the cost they would pay at their home state’s flagship campus. After exceeding client expectations, Melwood was hired in July 2016 as the university’s strategic communications firm of record.
Melwood crafted a media strategy that touted the financial benefits of Flagship Match while also underscoring the outstanding educational opportunities afforded to University of Maine students. Melwood coordinated with its national and regional contacts to tell the story of one of New England’s finest institutions of higher education. Additionally, Melwood promoted professors in the university’s various academic departments, including Marine Biology and Engineering, as go-to experts for reporters throughout the country.
Melwood’s efforts resulted in more than 100 news stories with over one million online views alone. Placements include The Washington Post, The Boston Globe, The Hartford Courant, The Newark Star-Ledger, NBC Southern California, the Philadelphia Inquirer, Time Magazine, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Inside Higher Ed, National Public Radio, and a number of television, radio and online outlets from coast to coast.
The resulting coverage increased out-of-state application by more than 100 percent, and UMaine instituted a waiting list for the first time in its history. It also helped UMaine move up in the US News and World Report standings, and an economic impact report credited Flagship Match with directly increasing spending in the campus area by $5.4 million.
Lastly, the success of Flagship Match and its accompanying media blitz has given rise to multiple copycat programs at other universities across the country.