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JSU Builds Brand That Attracts Best and Brightest with PhotoShelter

JSU harnesses PhotoShelter’s dynamic features to strengthen its brand and attract top students.

  • 15k+ applicants per year on average
  • 154k+ assets housed in PhotoShelter
  • 444k+ collective social media followers

A Historic University with Sights Set on the Future

Jackson State University (JSU), a vibrant Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in Jackson, Mississippi, is home to over 7,000 students. JSU takes pride in fostering diversity and inclusion and amplifies its unique identity through communication and marketing campaigns to reach a broad audience of potential students.

The Challenge: Hurt Marketing Efforts

At JSU, Charles A. Smith serves as the chief photographer for the Office of University Communications. He is responsible for generating creative and journalistic imagery that attracts a diverse group of highly competitive students to the campus. When he joined the university, Charles faced a number of challenges:

An avalanche of unorganized images. Charles was assigned the pressing task of organizing and managing years of historical photos. He was using Google Drive, but without metadata, it was painstaking to locate specific images in such a massive archive.

No easy way to respond to media requests. Without an easy way to search for and locate images, Charles couldn’t easily respond to requests from university stakeholders, national publications, or local news outlets – which could mean missed opportunities for brand visibility.

Challenges attracting potential students. Charles really wants to make sure he consistently puts out content that promotes the institution, but a disorganized workflow makes it hard to keep up. “There’s a lot of competition among universities and unfortunately, a downtrend in young people wanting to get college educations. So we have to come up with a way to make it easier to get information out,” explains Charles.

“Prior to using PhotoShelter, I was just putting everything into Google Drive. That was no way to truly manage things. I couldn’t get to the metadata. PhotoShelter has a streamlined process that allows me to get case-specific, which at the end of the day is the most important thing — to be able to get our information out into the world and our images where they need to go.”

Charles A. Smith, Chief Photographer, Jackson State University

The Solution: An A+ Workflow that Reaches Students in Real-Time

PhotoShelter became Charles’ game-changing solution to attract top-notch students to JSU when college application rates are at an all-time low. Charles and his team harnessed PhotoShelter’s dynamic features to revolutionize the way they handle their visual assets. Using PhotoShelter’s customizable galleries, easy link sharing, and real-time workflow, JSU has transformed its digital asset management:

A centralized historic archive. PhotoShelter transformed JSU’s folders of disorganized images into a streamlined digital archive. With metadata tagging and advanced search options, Charles can easily find images at lightning speed. “Sometimes people will call us with an archival request and all I have to do is go in and type in the metadata and 25 images will pop up — click, click, click — and it’s out the door,” explains Charles.

A one-stop solution for sharing content. PhotoShelter is now Charles’ go-to for sharing content with internal departments and external stakeholders, including local and national media outlets. The convenience and accessibility that PhotoShelter provides ensures that JSU never misses a key moment to share their story.

Sharing the right content at the right time. PhotoShelter empowers JSU to paint a vivid picture of campus life, events, and academic excellence, all with high-quality images and operate in real-time. This visual storytelling has become instrumental in attracting students, faculty, and partners.

“We really want to create an environment that allows us to operate in almost real time. That gives you a place of competition. It puts you right on the edge… and that’s where PhotoShelter comes in — to help us get that message out.”

Charles A. Smith, Chief Photographer, Jackson State University

Using Powerful Visual Storytelling to Attract the Nation’s Next Leaders

PhotoShelter has not only alleviated JSU’s image management challenges but has also become the cornerstone of its marketing and outreach endeavors. With structured organization and efficient distribution, the university can effectively convey its mission and attract the brightest minds to its campus. In the fiercely competitive landscape of higher education, Jackson State University has positioned itself at the forefront, using PhotoShelter to communicate its values and foster the next generation of graduates committed to making a difference in the world.

“We want graduates who have the mission to give to the world and also give back to the institution for the next generation. [As a student at JSU], you’re going to learn something from every single person that you touch on this campus, and then we’re going to learn from you in the same manner.”

Charles A. Smith, Chief Photographer, Jackson State University

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