MRM Partners Slam-Dunks St. John's University Account

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St. John's University, a Queens, NY, institution whose Red Storm team is highly regarded in intercollegiate basketball, has named MRM Partners New York as its relationship marketing agency of record.

As part of an attempt to raise its profile nationally, the university requested proposals from 10 undisclosed agencies and narrowed the finalists to three. Incumbent agency Della Femina Jeary, New York, did not pitch again.

"One of the things we're looking to do is integrate the marketing across the university," said Brenda Majeski, executive director of marketing and communications at St. John's.

"We have a large institution with six colleges and five campuses," Majeski said. "It involves a lot of synthesis of data and general communication."

Billings have yet to be determined.

"They need to have a more marketing-focused database, like most organizations," said Tracey Owens, executive vice president and general manager at MRM's New York office.

Established in 1870, St. John's offers undergraduate, graduate, doctoral and professional programs and degrees. It has 18,600 students on campuses throughout New York City, on Long Island and in Rome.

Disciplines offered by St. John's colleges include education, liberal arts and sciences, business, law, and health and pharmacy.

The St. John's win adds to MRM's New York roster of clients, which include Hallmark Cards, General Motors Corp.'s Buick division, Sprint Corp., Sirius Satellite Radio and the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.

Billings last year at MRM Partners Worldwide, parent of the New York office, exceeded $1.1 billion. The New York office accounts for almost 70 percent of the agencywide billings.

One of the first tasks for MRM is to develop an integrated strategic marketing plan for St. John's.

"The cornerstones of most institutions tend to be direct mail, especially when you're dealing with the student chain," Majeski said. "The Web is another area. Those will be the two areas that will be the cornerstones of our marketing, and the integration of those two in a multimedia manner."

Owens expects MRM to deliver the integrated plan by year's end.

"I think they're trying to get an understanding of where the brand really is and ... then where to go," Owens said. "It's just like any other business. They're trying to appeal to more undergrads than they [currently] are."

The Internet is expected to gain more importance in new marketing efforts to reach the target audience.

"From what we've seen, college marketing is very much the same across the board," Owens said. "All the universities mostly do it the same way. [St. John's wants] to set themselves apart and really become a marketing-driven organization as it relates to admissions, alumni and contributions."

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