May 11, 2021

Malcolm Holmes: Heart of the Matter

One national search, two busy years, 10 auditioning firms, 6,000 consulted constituents.

UMW Director of Marketing Malcolm Holmes has been leading the arduous effort to launch a new Mary Washington brand. Following nearly two years of research and consultations, rollout is just around the corner.

UMW Director of Marketing Malcolm Holmes has been leading the effort to launch a new Mary Washington brand. After nearly two years of research, in collaboration with the Atlanta-based firm Mindpower, rollout is just around the corner.

Malcolm Holmes’ world is awash in data. As UMW’s director of marketing, he’s wrapped up in recruitment, advertising, web and social media content, photo and video shoots. And for many months, something else – new branding.

Honing in on the essence of UMW has been quite the process. Of the 10 firms that vied for the job, Holmes said, Atlanta-based Mindpower best aligned with Mary Washington’s mission and culture. A flurry of forums and focus groups, surveys and meetings, churned out a new brand – “Matter” – which President Paino shared with the Board of Visitors in February. More than a tagline, Holmes said, it’s an “accountability measure,” a “claim of distinction,” a “promise.”

“A guiding light for the stories and images we use to promote the university, and most importantly, in how we treat and speak to each other, our students and those we encounter each day. As members of the UMW community, we’re all representatives of the brand.”

When he came to Mary Washington in 2013, Holmes brought a bachelor’s degree in mass communication from VCU, a master’s in public relations from Norfolk State University and a wealth of experience. Director of marketing communications and public affairs, and special assistant to the president, at J. Sargeant Reynolds Community College, he’d earned a spot on the Reynolds Executive Cabinet.

You Matter. stickerSuccess, Holmes said, hinges on teamwork: “We cannot meet our marketing goals without collaboration across departments.” Nor if a pandemic puts the brakes on your project.

When the branding campaign resumed this winter, “the world looked a lot different,” he said, providing an “opportunity” to re-test and re-visit, make sure the effort was on the right track.

“A lot is happening behind the scenes right now,” said Holmes, who plans a brand rollout with new visuals, Web pages and admissions materials, plus a targeted advertising campaign. “We are extremely excited to begin this process!”


Q: What does “Matter” mean to you?
A: This project took me on a spiritual journey. So much has happened over the last year. It’s comforting to know that I’m part of an organization that’s making a difference. Just as the University as a whole matters, our individual contributions matter. We all matter! 

Q: Anythingfun” involved in the rollout?
A: A big celebration on Ball Circle the first week of fall classes with T-shirts and other surprises (if COVID protocols allow).

Sample advertisement guided by UMW's new brand, "Matter."

Sample advertisement guided by UMW’s new brand, “Matter.”

Q: What’s most rewarding about your job?
A: The collaboration. You cannot work in a silo and be successful in this business. I’m blessed to be surrounded by a mission-focused team that understands it takes all of us to make marketing magic.

Q: Most challenging?
A: Keeping up with innovations in digital marketing that seem to appear overnight.

Q: What’s the best thing on your desk?
A: A picture of my three kids – all young adults. They’re my motivation, my inspiration and my “on-call” focus group for anything related to social media!

Q: What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
A: Visiting Virginia wineries. There are more than 300 across the state.

Q: What would people be surprised to learn about you?
A: I started attending Mary Washington when I was in high school. I came every summer as part of the Upward Bound program. Dr. Venitta McCall was the program director at the time. I credit her with setting me on the trajectory to be where I am in my career today.

Q: What’s your motto?
A: To whom much is given, much is required.

UMW Digital Puzzles and Coloring Pages

Need to relax for a minute or two? The Office of University Relations and Communications has just the thing for you – online jigsaw puzzles – featuring gorgeous springtime images from the beautiful UMW campus – and printable coloring pages! Visit Check back as we add more fun things to do.


Schultz, Marvashti Present at State Conference

Maria Schultz and Lisa Marvashti

Maria Schultz and Lisa Marvashti

The Office of University Relations’ Assistant Director of Design Services Maria Schultz and Assistant Director of Media and Public Relations Lisa Chinn Marvashti presented at the College Communicators Association’s annual conference in Richmond on Friday, Feb. 2. Their presentation – Take Stock … and Ditch It, How to Achieve Authenticity in Campus Photos – covered the process of creating a complete branded marketing campaign that featured real UMW students in polished, yet genuine, photography accompanied by text that told each individual’s Mary Washington story.

UMW University Relations Staff Wins Circle of Excellence Awards

The Council for Advancement and Support of Education, or CASE, has just announced its annual Circle of Excellence awards, and the University of Mary Washington won in two categories.

The University Relations office won a Gold Award for their series of 2015 UMW Branded Photos. The judges included the following comments along with the award notification: “A solid series of images to promote the brand of UMW. The images were executed in a clean and consistent style utilizing ambient light and a degree of strobe so not to be overly lit. The composition images made for nice areas to drop type in and worked well in a variety of crops. You could tell the subjects enjoyed themselves through the shoot, which only enhanced this branding effort.”

The University Relations office also won a bronze medal for Promotional Publications (Digital) for their Presidential Leadership Statement.

Congratulations to the staff!


Grymala Presents Four Times in Five Days

Curtiss Grymala at WordCamp Detroit 2012Curtiss Grymala, the University Webmaster, attended and presented at two conferences in the past week. He started by heading out to Detroit, MI for WordCamp Detroit on Saturday, Oct. 6, where he presented a 45-minute session explaining the WordPress Multi-Network concept used on the UMW website.

After that, he traveled to Milwaukee, WI, where he attended the national HighEdWeb conference. At HighEdWeb 2012, he presented the same WordPress Multi-Network talk on Monday, Oct. 8; he helped lead a 45-minute panel discussion on using WordPress as a Web content management system with colleagues from Maryville University and Allegheny University on Tuesday, Oct. 9; and he led a three-and-a-half hour workshop teaching attendees how to develop their own WordPress plugins on Wednesday, Oct. 10.

Over the past 12 months, Grymala has attended a total of 13 different conferences (two of which were online, or virtual, conferences). He presented at 11 of those events, and led a total of 15 separate presentations, workshops and organized discussions.