By Kara Sherrer
Nate Luce, MBA’14, says he got his first real taste of serious marketing work when he enrolled at Owen. He joined the Owen Bloggers club and helped start the #owenlife social media hashtag, which is still in use today. He also coordinated the contest to rename the Thursday night happy hour to “Closing Bell.” “I fell more in love with the idea of being a marketer as I went through school,” he says. This love of marketing is what drew Luce to return to his alma mater as director of news and communications a few years later. “I wanted to continue to marry my interest in PR and business, and the job kind of fell from the sky,” he says. “It was amazing. It was exactly what I wanted to do with my career at the time.”
In his role, Luce worked to promote faculty research and other school news through public relations outreach. He also spearheaded the push to launch organic content on Owen’s website, writing news articles and recording podcasts and then promoting them via social media, emails and more. These content marketing efforts significantly increased website traffic and social-media engagement across multiple platforms.
After about 18 months on the job, a new opportunity presented itself when the role of senior director of marketing and communications opened up. While he’s less involved in the day-to-day PR and content work now, he says he’s enjoying the bigger marketing initiatives and the chance to think more strategically about all the programs. “When you have a portfolio of programs, you run the risk of everything being disparate,” Luce says. “What I did on the content side was try to build a cohesive message around what all these programs mean for Owen as a school. I’m trying to do that now from where I sit by bringing more people in our community together to help articulate what that story is through all our marketing efforts.”
With application season in full swing, Luce says he’s focused on increasing the prospective student pool and improving the overall prestige of the Owen School. His goal is to identify key audiences for each degree program and articulate each program’s unique value proposition. “I’m trying to figure out where the opportunities are so everyone knows how amazing Vanderbilt is and that they should consider going to school here,” he says. “We’ve got an incredible marketing team that executes at a high level. It’s a privilege to work with them, and I’m excited to see where we go through this recruiting cycle and beyond.” Luce also enjoys getting to connect with current students as a staff member, since he remembers what it was like to be in their shoes. “As a former customer, I remember what my expectations were, and that’s been very helpful for me,” he says. “It’s fun to watch students grow and succeed from the other side and connect with them in a different way.”