Suzanne McDonald, CEO of Designated Editor, a New England-based New Media company, won the International Business Award, one of the world's top business awards, for Company of the Year, Internet/New Media. In June of 2014, McDonald won the American Business Award for "Upstart of the Year": "recognizing the individual who's had the most influence on the tech and new media industries in the U.S."
McDonald won the International Business Award for her efforts in higher education; and, specifically, for bringing New Media (social media plus blogs, web sites, etc.) into the university setting, notably at the University of Rhode Island where she is now creating the first social media certificate in the state, where three years ago, McDonald developed the state's first social media course. McDonald also created the first Social Media "SWAT Team" – aimed at teaching communication-major students how to use social media, including the incorporation of complex scientific information, as it needs to be done "in the real world." The resulting University of Rhode Island student-led campaign went viral and won one of the country's leading strategic video awards.
"Students use Facebook for friends," says McDonald, "but most have no idea how to use social media on behalf of a brand, business, or a ‘cause' in a professional setting that ultimately benefits businesses and helps them get top jobs. Up until now, universities have underplayed their roles in real-world social media readiness. The residual effects of the economic downturn have forced most businesses to forgo training time. To land an internship, even, students need to have a portfolio that showcases their new media skills."
The SWAT Team campaign – aimed at creating awareness for tick-borne diseases and titled "#Ticknado" – won the Strategic Video Award for Best Viral Video. Under McDonald's leadership, the student-created campaign was aimed at high-readership blogs and resulted in exposure reaching 2.4 million potential readers and increased traffic to the client site by 234%. The blog campaign has now become an "agency educational model" for universities nationwide.