Behind the scenes of an award-winning video

Each year the Council for Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) recognizes institutions around the world with the Circle of Excellence Awards for exceptional work in advancement services, alumni relations, communications, marketing and fundraising. This year, Lenoir-Rhyne took home a gold level award for the 2022 Bears Give Back Giving Day video.

Mikeala Skelton

“One thing CASE looks for in these awards is work that is unique and groundbreaking because media professionals look to these examples for inspiration,” said Mikeala Skelton, digital media producer for the marketing and communications team, who conceived and produced the video for the 2022 Bears Give Back fundraising campaign.

Skelton added, “This is very exciting for me as a professional and as a video producer, but it is exciting for Lenoir-Rhyne because professionals from other institutions will see our video on the CASE website and get inspired by it too.”

Tatum Pottenger, director of annual giving, requested the video as part of the campaign for the annual giving day, with a goal to make a strong impression on social media while celebrating past and present Bear pride.

“Right from the start, Mikeala understood our vision for this video,” Pottenger shared. “Since our founding, LR alumni and friends have come together each year with their support for the university, helping to create the ‘LR magic’ that makes this place so special. The video perfectly captured that sense of nostalgia and community that is so unique to LR and inspired Bear Nation to show up with a wave of support once again.”


The video opens with a voiceover from Madeleine Dassow ’75, chair of the board of trustees, speaking at the January 2022 groundbreaking ceremony for the Moretz Stadium renovation.

“I have to tell you, there is a magic about Lenoir-Rhyne,” Dassow says. “There was a magic about it when I came to school here, and the magic is still here — I feel it every time I come on this campus.”

Skelton combined this speech with the musical accompaniment, “BOXES” by Wes Harris and found her own magic.

“It just fit. I thought it was exactly what we needed,” said Skelton. “People love to evoke the sense of nostalgia, so I wanted to do that while appealing to a modern audience.”

Fortunately, Skelton already had nostalgic video on file. Bob Duckworth ’69 had found some reels filmed during his student days, digitized them and sent the digital files to Skelton in case she ever needed the footage.

“It was really just good luck that we had that material already,” Skelton said. “I wish we could come across more footage like that from any era, really.”

Skelton combined the footage with digitized photos and footage of current LR students — including a sequence in which she staged a student receiving her acceptance packet — and added the sound effect of a camera shutter.

Student opening acceptance packet

“I actually filmed the acceptance letter sequence in my own home,” shared Skelton. “I needed a room that wasn’t a dorm room, but I also needed a space where I knew and liked the light, where the background wouldn’t be too wild. The film paired really well with the audio, and it turned out to be one of my favorite segments of the video.”

From the moment she put Dassow’s voiceover with the musical accompaniment, Skelton felt she had something special on her hands. To date, 2022 was the university’s most successful fundraising year, and Bears Give Back set records, raising more than $695,000 from 849 donors in a single day. Beyond the numbers, Skelton received positive word-of-mouth feedback from her colleagues in advancement and development services and alumni affairs.

“It’s rewarding when the client loves your idea and when your idea resonates with the public,” Skelton said. “I think the best path to that resonance – whether you’re in higher education or corporate business – is to let the creatives be creative. That gets the absolute best results.”

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