2018 National Communicator

2018 National Communicator

Christine Payton
Communications and Marketing Director
South Louisiana Community College
Lafayette, LA

“Hit the ground running” may be an understatement when referring to Christine Payton’s arrival at South Louisiana Community College in 2012. After the college and multiple technical colleges in the region merged, Payton’s first task as a new hire was to unite the distinct identities of the institutions into one cohesive brand. Her second priority was to build a marketing and public relations department from the ground up. She did both and much more.

As communications and marketing director, Payton’s sharp branding, media relations and marketing skills have elevated her institution’s profile from a little known “trade school” to a dominant force in the region’s higher education landscape. Within five years, she has turned an office of one into a comprehensive marketing and communication team of four. With 18 years of higher education experience and proven leadership, Payton and her team are increasing student enrollment and producing measurable results.

Quintin Taylor, chief external affairs officer for the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, shares this about Payton, “As of one 13 colleges that make-up the Louisiana Community and Technical College System, SLCC’s overall communications and marketing efforts are among the best in our state and region. The success is due in large part to Christine Payton.”

Among Payton's many achievements:

  • She’s twice led a comprehensive rebranding of the college, helping to further the footprint of the continually growing campus. Additionally, she chaired the college’s website redesign committee, gaining feedback from key departments to develop the structure and content for the new site. The project was completed on time and within budget.
  • With Payton’s oversight, the college has seen a sharp increase in earned and paid media. In the most recent academic year, media mentions grew to over 1,000. She’s also built a strong social media following and secured two trademarks to support South Louisiana’s brand.
  • Payton has enhanced relationships with media, local government, business leaders and economic partners. Her efforts have increased awareness and financial support for the college and resulted in a major donation to complete a new health and sciences building.
  • Payton serves on the college’s Strategic Planning Steering Committee and plays a critical role in the college’s strategic enrollment management initiatives. Through her efforts, SLCC is experiencing unprecedented enrollment growth, bucking the national trend.
  • To bolster employee morale after the 2012 merger and state funding cutbacks, Payton successfully created and implemented an internal “It Starts With Me” brand campaign and weekly “Thank You Thursday,” showcasing employee contributions and enhancing internal relationships.

A highly respected member of NCMPR and her peers, Payton volunteers in numerous capacities with NCMPR, including serving as the Louisiana representative on the District 2 Executive Council and as a frequent guest blogger. Outside of NCMPR, she is this year’s president of the Public Relations Association of Louisiana (Acadiana Chapter) and a founding member of the Acadiana Press Club. Payton has published articles in numerous periodicals and is a regular attendee and presenter at professional conferences.

Lana Fontenot, associate vice chancellor for institutional advancement at South Louisiana Community College, says it best when describing Payton’s contributions: “Christine is a wonderful educator and ambassador for the field of public relations and communications and clearly demonstrates her passion to advance the profession. I can think of no one more deserving of this award.”

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