In Focus: Interview with Suzanne Groves, Exec. Director of Comms., PR & Marketing at Tarrant County College, US

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Suzanne Groves

As a proud graduate of The University of Texas at Austin (B.A. in English/American Studies), Suzanne Groves has worked in public relations, advertising, communications and marketing for 30 years; her experience spans agency, corporate, and non-profit organizations in several industry verticals including health care, travel and tourism, technology and now, higher education. At Tarrant County College, she oversees a team of 40 professionals spanning six disciplines: PR, Marketing, Advertising, Graphic Design, Social Media and Digital Communications. She has created and implemented the first integrated marketing strategy in the college's history to drive college applications and student retention, and am responsible for developing integrated marketing and communications programs designed to reach internal and external stakeholders of the District's six community college campuses, as well as the District overall. With just enough ADD to be dangerous, Suzanne is known for taking several disparate ideas and weaving them into a new creative or strategic concept that has not yet been tried, and for enthusiastically encouraging her colleagues to embrace risk as we explore new channels and methods for telling their stories. In 30 years, she is proud to say that she has never had the same day twice.


Suzanne Groves | Muse Awards

Interview with the 2018 Muse Creative Awards Winner - Suzanne Groves

1First, tell us about yourself, your company, job profile, etc.
As a proud graduate of The University of Texas at Austin (B.A. in English/American Studies), I have worked in public relations, advertising, communications, and marketing for 30 years; my experience spans agency, corporate and non-profit organizations in several industry verticals including health care, travel and tourism, technology and now, higher education. At Tarrant County College, I oversee a team of 40 professionals spanning six disciplines: PR, Marketing, Advertising, Graphic Design, Social Media and Digital Communications. I created and implemented the first integrated marketing strategy in the college's history to drive college applications and student retention, and am responsible for developing integrated marketing and communications programs designed to reach internal and external stakeholders of the District's six community college campuses, as well as the District overall. With just enough ADD to be dangerous, I am known for taking several disparate ideas and weaving them into a new creative or strategic concept that has not yet been tried, and for enthusiastically encouraging my colleagues to embrace risk as we explore new channels and methods for telling our stories. In 30 years, I am proud to say that I have never had the same day twice.
2Congratulations! As the winner of the 2018 Muse Creative Awards, what does winning this award mean to you and your team?
There are numerous surveys and reports that reinforce one simple truth: people will work harder for recognition and appreciation than they will for incremental salary increases! Being recognized for excellence with Muse Creative Awards underscores to me AND my team that not only is our work effective for a higher education institution but that it is exceptional in comparison to companies in myriad other sectors across the U.S. and the world. Often, people in marketing/advertising/design are called to defend their work to people who believe that, because they are consumers, they have an informed opinion as to what constitutes “excellent” and “effective” (even as we are the experts). Awards like this validate that our expertise speaks for itself in the quality work we produce.
3Where do you see the evolution of creative industry going over the next 5-10 years?
Our field has always been about “breaking through the clutter”. That was challenging 30 years ago and today, it’s gotten even crazier as every single individual is a media platform unto herself/himself (if he/she wants to be)! We are all innately egocentric and social media has only “fed the beast”. I think the creative industry will be challenged, in the next 5-10 years, to portray better and more relevant, moving stories that inspire action, and to figure out how to help individuals “see themselves” – quite literally – in the story used to sell the product, concept, service, opportunity. This may necessarily involve a mashup of evolved Virtual Reality and the old “You Are Here” type of schematic… not sure. But the creative would be customizable to the individual, by the individual, to result in an “experience”.
4What are your top three (3) favorite things about our industry?
1. Great inspiration comes from the least likely places and when it gives me goosebumps, I know we’re on to something big. I can’t imagine that accountants have those same moments.

2. Unlike other fields, where you want to annihilate the competitor, ours is an industry in which the rising tide really does lift all boats… that is, great work from one shop inspires even greater work from others.

3. We actually get paid by people who don’t understand what we do or how we do it, and we know they secretly envy the fact that we get to have fun on the job but will never have to explain ourselves because “we’re creative”. ☺
5Who has inspired you in your life and why?
I have always been inspired by Coco Chanel because she defied the norm, turned fashion on its head by using “common” materials to create “wearable fashion” and was known to be a true original… all the while, ignoring her detractors to follow her vision.
6If you could give one piece of advice to someone considering a career in creative industry, what would it be?
I advise anyone considering a career in our field to NOT study it as a trade but to approach it as an art. That means, taking a liberal arts approach to school and life, learning as much about as many things as possible. Travel, read, explore… soak up everything imaginable because it will all be there as material upon which you can draw. Secondly, do what you can to NOT specialize early in your career… acquire as much experience in various areas under the “creative” umbrella so that you can be more relevant and effective over the course of your career.
7What resources would you recommend to someone who wants to improve their skills in the advertising industry?
People-watching and eavesdropping wherever and whenever possible! Put down your phone and just watch and listen. It’s amazing what you will learn that can be put to good use in telling a great story… which is the heart and soul of groundbreaking creative.
8Tell us something you have never told anyone else.
I have thought about this question for 30 minutes now and I’m sad to say that, as an off-the-charts extrovert, I’m also an open book. And a bit of a Chatty Cathy.
9Finally, what is your key to success?
A sense of humor is, I think, the most critically important life skill one can have and especially in our business. Things are going to blow up… it’s inevitable. People are going to be jerks… it’s a fact. Ideas may be slow-flowing… we’re human! But if you can find a way to lighten things up for yourself and your team, you win. Every time. And laughter is the best way to get those creative juices flowing. Unless you count wine.


Winning Entries

Mouths of Babes Campaign | 2018

Mouths of Babes Campaign | Muse Awards
Children were the inspiration for this campaign, which focuses on the value TCC offers in education compared to expensive colleges and universities... (read more)

What's Stopping You? Campaign | 2018

What's Stopping You? Campaign | Muse Awards
TCC is positioned as a "caregiver" and "everyman" brand, seeking to reach key target audiences in their world and speak to them in their language... (read more)

Everyday Heroes Video | 2018

Everyday Heroes Video | Muse Awards
The concept for the "Everyday Heroes" video began as the team discussed what a day without community college would look like, the purpose... (read more)

Katie Murray: Professor & Dreamer | 2018

Katie Murray: Professor & Dreamer | Muse Awards
This article features a TCC professor who makes a difference in the Fort Worth community by partnering with M2G Ventures, whose mission... (read more)

REACH Magazine | 2018

REACH Magazine | Muse Awards
REACH targets a diverse audience that includes all faculty and staff, as well as alumni, community leaders and elected officials. Stories are... (read more)

What's Stopping You? Social Media Campaign | 2018

What's Stopping You? Social Media Campaign
The campaign consisted of nine posts across Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, with a total reach of 45,000. The posts received 1,000 likes... (read more)

What's Stopping You? Social Media Campaign | 2017

What's Stopping You? Social Media Campaign
Tarrant County College students were featured in the #TCCSuccess campaign. The campaign profiles a recent high school graduate studying dance... (read more)

What's Stopping You Video Campaign | 2017

What's Stopping You Video Campaign | Muse Awards
Tarrant County College students are featured in television spots as part of TCC's marketing campaign. Ads asking, "What's Stopping You?"... (read more)

What's Stopping You? Advertising Campaign | 2017

What's Stopping You? Advertising Campaign | Muse Awards
Tarrant County College students are featured in television and radio spots, bus benches, movie screens and other advertising venues as part of... (read more)

What's Stopping You? Radio Spots | 2017

What's Stopping You? Radio Spots | Muse Awards
Tarrant County College students are featured in radio spots as part of TCC's marketing campaign. Ads asking, "What's Stopping You?" target... (read more)

Tarrant County College

Tarrant County College District


Serving more than 100,000 students each year, Tarrant County College is one of the 20-largest higher education institutions in the United States. The two-year college offers an extensive range of opportunities for learners of all ages and backgrounds including traditional programs, such as Associate of Arts degrees, Community & Industry Education courses, workshops, and customized training programs. The College, established in 1965, has six campuses throughout Tarrant County including TCC Connect, which provides flexibility through its e-Learning and Weekend College offerings. TCC also assists employers in training their workforces at its TCC Opportunity Center. Since 1967, TCC has conferred nearly 120,000 degrees and certificates upon its graduates.


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