Positioning a Historically Black Graduate University for Future Growth

When Charles R. Drew University of Medicine and Science (CDU) was about to embark on an exciting new path, they turned to THO. Our task was to create the communications roadmap to position the University on a national level, raising the awareness of the institution to not only more potential students, but to their own communities as well.


As a private university with a public mission, CDU was about to announce the availability of a new four-year medical degree, as well as on campus housing for students. Raising awareness of this opportunity – as well as the institution’s mission beyond its own community – was critical. The university also wanted to set the stage to unveil a new four-year medical degree program that was soon to launch. They turned to THO to help navigate the path forward.


The first step centered on upgrading, and updating the website, making it easier for people to find the information they needed.THO developed a comprehensive public relations program that included a range of activities:Crisis counsel, strategy recommendations and official campus statements on campus bomb threats and the federal criminal cases involving some of the University’s stakeholders

  • Expert commentaries and statements related to the rapidly evolving FDA/CDC COVID-19 decisions 
  • Facilitating on-site interviews at various events including Match Day, HBCU Black College Expo and CDU’s $50 Million Check at Ceremony 
  • Ongoing seasonal monthly topical areas of expertise that allowed THO to showcase CDU’s thought leadership among faculty, including in various areas of expertise from health equity to food deserts and related ‘in the news’ timely pitching efforts 
  • Counseling for community partnerships to build the visibility of CDU’s Community Forums  
  • Writing executive thought leadership pieces and press releases 
  • Providing a strategic recommendation on a Community Forum Partnership plan with area businesses to help further elevate and raise the visibility of the University
  • Results:

    Starting with the website was a prudent decision that enhanced access to all of the resources provided by the University. Adding a strong earned media effort – which promoted actions such as “Match Day” and the mobile vaccine unit – further integrated the University’s efforts not only across the nation but in its own backyard as well. In fact, this strategy provided a strong basis for setting the stage to move forward, but also resulted in placements in top national and local broadcast, digital news platforms and newspapers that have spanned U.S. News and World Report, ABC 7 Eyewitness News, Los Angeles Sentinel, Spectrum News 1, Los Angeles Business Journal and Black News Channel, among many others. All of this has resulted in consistent and ongoing coverage to elevate the CDU brand and tell its key stories and its mission-driven university key narratives to key stakeholders. Over a 16-month period, THO secured top health and local media placements including U.S. News and World Report, Yahoo News, Healthline, Verywell Family, Los Angeles Sentinel, Our Weekly and ABC7 Eyewitness News among others with an estimated 4.72 billion online views, 19 million broadcast viewers, 28 thousand social shares of online articles, 85 Pieces of Coverage, 262 million Estimated Views and 1.1 million Print Readers.Additional efforts included: Participating in CDU’s monthly COVID-19 Community Support and Research meetings. As a result, CDU staff and faculty contacted THO directly for media relations support. This fluid communication resulted in broadcast coverage for CDU’s mobile vaccine unit and “WOMYN’s Health Collaborative” Pop-Up Clinic. 

  • Driving attendance and further building out the visibility of CDU’s Community Forums hosted by Sylvia Drew, by recommending the establishment of community partnerships with area organizations that have a similar mission to representing the underserved community; and have a social presence and visible brand presence for cross-promotional opportunities for the forums.   
  • Supporting the President’s Breakfast by securing two media RSVPs, KNBC and the LA Sentinel.
  • ~hoytorg