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Jackie Watson named national council’s Rising Star

Jackie Watson, the director of web strategy at the Kentucky Community & Technical College System (KCTCS), has been named the 2020 Rising Star by the National Council for Marketing & Public Relations (NCMPR). The award recognizes an up-and-coming communication professional at a two-year college who has demonstrated creativity and ability in college marketing and public relations and shown evidence of a promising future in the field.

When Watson started at KCTCS in June 2015, she was the digital content manager. Within two years, she was responsible for redesigning 16 websites across the college system and was twice promoted after that to her current position.

Watson’s early duties included a website refresh for the system office. Through research and focus groups, KCTCS realized its website readability was at a master’s degree level, but those visiting the website had barely an eighth-grade reading level. The website was disjointed and not geared toward KCTCS’s target audience, so Watson implemented changes to better assist students to get started, attend classes, graduate and move on to a better life.

In 2017, two years after Watson was hired, the 16 colleges in the KCTCS system were ready to undergo website redesigns. That’s when the director of web strategy left the system office. Watson realized that she needed to step up, and she subsequently oversaw 16 full redesigns in five weeks.

In 2019, Watson was promoted to senior manager of web strategy and digital content. In February of this year, she was promoted again and is now KCTCS’s director of web strategy. Her duties are similar to what she’s been doing all along, but now she has a full staff. She manages the web team and oversees web operations for the colleges across the system.

Watson has quickly earned a reputation for her emphasis on customer service, which is doubly important at a state system that’s so large. Her team describes her as a natural-born leader with innovative problem-solving skills.

“A week does not go by that I don’t receive an email from one of the colleges complimenting the service she and her team provide,” says Terri Giltner, KCTCS’s chief marketing officer. “She stepped in to fill a leadership vacuum and never missed a beat.”