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Stephanie Swindle Thomas

Director of Social Media and Visual Assets, College of Arts and Architecture
Penn State

Writer, musician, photographer, Stephanie Swindle Thomas was hired as an alumni and communications specialist at her alma mater, Rhodes College in Memphis, Tennessee, in 2006 to “figure out this thing called Facebook” and engage with students, alumni, faculty, and staff. She attended graduate school at Penn State in Art History, where she was the social media manager for the Graduate Student Association for Visual Culture. After receiving her M.A., she worked as the Marketing and Exhibitions Coordinator for the Metal Museum, building their social media channels and leading a rebranding campaign before returning to Penn State where she has worked for the Palmer Museum of Art, Stuckeman School of Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and Graphic Design, and currently the College of Arts and Architecture. 

She manages a multi-tiered Multimedia and Communications internship program in the arts, where she teaches future arts entrepreneurs to become their own brands, publicists, and art directors. Her photographs have been featured in a solo exhibition at Penn State, a group show with her interns at the Huntingdon Arts Council, and is currently on view at the Southern Alleghenies Museum of Art in their juried biennale exhibition. Throughout her career, she has had the opportunity to work with musicians, artists, actors, and designers from Rome-Prize-winning ceramicist Roberto Lugo to cellist Yo-Yo Ma. She is currently teaching a course in Multimedia Arts PR for Penn State College of Arts and Architecture, Penn State School of Visual Arts’ Professional Photography internship course, and a Museum PR course for Penn State’s Department of Art History, where she is affiliate faculty.  

Stephanie Swindle Thomas’s Session(s):


1:25pm - 2:10pm PDT —

Hybrid Engagement and Community Building through Social Media

When performance audiences began to tune in from the comfort of their own homes during the pandemic, Penn State College of Arts and Architecture pivoted to remote content delivery and marketing for their music and theatre seasons, lecture series, art exhibitions, and admissions recruitment. While this meant expanding our virtual reach, not to mention our donor pool, it also presented a challenge - competing for airtime and viewers with other virtual events and streaming platforms. 

Using social media to promote and stream events, engage our viewers, feature our Broadway alumni, and enhance our visibility has changed the way in which we intend to continue marketing when we return to in-person performances and events. Hybrid is our new model for outreach. Through our social media platforms and virtual program offerings, we will be able to increase engagement and community building by meeting audiences where they are, rather than only engaging with those who are able to come to us in-person. This is particularly important for maintaining virtual connections established with donors and alumni over the course of the pandemic through social media.

Stephanie will discuss:

  • Alumni (group engagement, fundraising, and takeovers)
  • Donors (virtual events hosting and crowdfunding campaigns)
  • Prospective students (hashtag campaigns and student spotlights for recruitment marketing)
  • Hybrid events marketing (Theatre and Music promotional marketing and livestreams/simulcasts on Facebook and Youtube as well as virtual tours of exhibitions) using "extras" and "behind-the-scenes" content. We also created a multi-night Penn State alumni performance livestream event with our Broadway alumni, using influencer marketing techniques to increase our audience.
  • Subscription-based offerings (tiered content access via social groups and promotion)

Check out our early bird ticket prices!
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