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The video production team in University of Maryland University College’s Marketing Department won prestigious Telly Awards for two of its television commercials featuring UMUC graduates.

In addition, the Academy of Interactive and Visual Arts (AIVA) awarded the team a gold International Communicator Award of Excellence for its video “What motivates a Cybersecurity Student?” and recognized its two Telly-winning commercials with Communicator Awards of Distinction.

UMUC President Javier Miyares congratulated the video production team, not only for this recognition of its quality work but also for what the video and commercials have done in promoting the university.

“The excellence of our video and television commercials is paying off with increased enrollments,” Miyares said. “We are working smarter with our marketing budget, and these awards prove that we are getting wonderful results.”

Both commercials won a bronze Telly Award, which is considered one of the highest achievements in local, regional and cable TV commercials.

The 2016 Telly Award—the 37th annual—attracted nearly 12,000 entries from all 50 states and many countries, submitted by a wide array of organizations from large international firms to local production companies and ad agencies. The award’s significance has grown with the explosion of videos on cable television and online.

Telly Award winners were:

A commercial featuring UMUC alumni Mike Knutson Pauline Steinhorn - Producer Stephen Menick - Director Jerry Moxley - Director of Photography/Editor

And a commercial featuring UMUC grads Colby Braun and Marianne Rowan-Braun Pauline Steinhorn – Producer/Director Jerry Moxley - Director of Photography/Editor

UMUC’s online video, “What Motivates a Cybersecurity Student?” that won the gold Award of Excellence at the 22nd Annual Communicator Awards was produced by Anthony Brenneman, edited by Reina Martin.

AIVA, which judges and oversees the Communicator Awards, has more than 600 members representing leading professionals in the visual arts.

The flurry of awards come after UMUC revamped its process for producing television commercials, said Pauline Steinhorn, director of Video Production, Marketing.

In the past, she said, commercials were produced by ad agencies that used actors to portray UMUC students. Steinhorn brought the production in house and decided to use actual UMUC students and alumni to tell their stories.

“I am inspired every year at commencement by the journeys our graduates take; what they do to overcome the odds,” she said. “They’re juggling families with small children and full-time jobs while they strive to get an education.

“I knew if other people could get to know them, even in a 30-second commercial, they would be inspired, too,” she said. “The hope is that by being inspired by these stories, others would take the challenge themselves and go back to school.”

She said it seems to be working because enrollment is up and more people are making inquiries about UMUC since the in-house produced commercials began airing. Focus group data show that people remember the commercials and that the commercials improved the university’s name recognition.

“Our video team's work is not only top quality but also top performing,” said Cathy Leaning, the university’s assistant vice president for brand marketing communications. “Prospective students relate to these stories and are inspired to achieve their dreams, too. Since the launch of the campaign in 2014, awareness, enrollment consideration and likelihood to recommend indicators have all increased significantly.”

The full-time five-member team, including Steinhorn, accomplishes the same work that an independent production company does with twice the staff, she said. The team produces about four ads a year as well as videos for the UMUC website, the Cyber Gala, the Presidential Awards and more.

“Producing award-winning videos takes collaboration, teamwork and talent,” says Steinhorn. “We have an excellent in-house team that does it all—produce, direct, write, shoot and edit.”

For Steinhorn, success is all about the story.

When she met Marianne Rowen-Braun and her son Colby Braun at one of UMUC’s 2015 stateside commencement ceremonies, she knew their story would be compelling. Here was a mother in Baltimore who challenged her son in Los Angeles to join her in taking an online UMUC Emergency Management graduate program. They talked about how they could work together even while separated by 3,000 miles.

“I am the same age as this woman,” Steinhorn said. “I have a son the same age. And when I met the two of them, I thought, ‘Wow. What a great relationship they have. I would love to do this with my son.’”