Onward: An interview with Tiffany Pierson

MINOT, N.D. – Minot State University’s Tiffany Pierson spends most of her day working on ways to make every online user’s experience on the Minot State website easier.

The Burlington native is poised to begin her third year at MSU navigating a branding and website update, a daunting yet meaningful strategic task. It’s all part of the job of a web content specialist as her daily tasks combine her bachelor’s degree in graphic design technology from the University of North Dakota with a certificate in entrepreneurial studies (from UND) and a Google Analytics certification to enhance the online user experience.

Minot State’s University Communications caught up with Pierson to learn more about the individual behind the scenes of minotstateu.edu.

You are just about to start your third year (in August) with Minot State marketing; give us an overview of what the web content specialist does.
TP: My job as the web content specialist is to help guide a user’s journey on our website. My main consideration is the user audience and how they will interact and experience our website.  I use tools like Google Analytics, Page Insights, and market research to make strategic decisions that improve functionality and design.

You came to Minot State from the private sector. What are some of the major differences in marketing there compared to higher education? What are some of the similarities?
TP: One of the biggest differences is that MSU is full of people from many different walks of life. We have so many stories worth telling. The resources available have also been a big difference. The ability to collaborate with many departments to tell our story is valuable. I was a one-person marketing department previously and now have a great team to generate ideas. They are similar in structure by implementing different forms of advertising to build brand awareness and encourage the audience to choose you over other competitors.  

There are many misconceptions about marketing. What do you feel are some of the key pieces to MSU marketing?
TP: I think the biggest key to MSU marketing is our people. We have so many stories to share about our students, faculty, staff, and alumni that speak to who we are and what one can accomplish by being a part of Minot State. Trying to capture how being a part of MSU makes someone feel and have that emotion be felt through advertising.

With that, Minot State is about to undergo some changes to its website and brand. Without giving away any spoilers, can you give us a sneak peek at what direction the new look will take?
TP: Besides having an update to the design, the new website update will become more user-friendly to our audiences. We have taken steps to improve navigation, functionality, accessibility, and add user-focused content to make it a stress-free experience for those visiting our website.

What are some areas that you are most proud of over your first two years?
TP: I am most proud of being able to inject the website with authenticity through our content and improving the user experience. I have developed tools and best practices that have helped measure our success and continue to meet the needs of our audiences.

You have a great team in the marketing department; how do you feel you fit in with the group, and how has that group dynamic helped you grow and mature in your role?
TP: I love working with the marketing team. Our team is very welcoming and supportive. We can brainstorm and share ideas easily. The ability to collaborate on so many different projects is fun. Our team encourages each other to find new ideas and continue to grow professionally. I have grown a lot by researching and finding or developing new tools to make our website stronger and user-friendly. I also have been pushed outside my comfort zone during my time at MSU whether it has been developing a new process with other departments or being in a leadership role on Staff Senate. I am now more confident in being a strong communicator and leader on campus.

You have been involved in Staff Senate, including just finishing a year as president. How has your experience on Staff Senate gone overall, and what do you feel are some highlights during your time as president?
TP: Overall, being part of the Staff Senate has been an incredible opportunity to build relationships with colleagues across the campus whom I wouldn't typically work with as the web content specialist. I am incredibly proud of the goals we have accomplished this year. I set a plan at the beginning of the year to focus on professional development, staff orientation, and staff satisfaction. We produced many professional development sessions that engaged staff and had great participation. We developed a new process for our staff satisfaction survey to help gather more information from staff. This has allowed Staff Senate to make great recommendations to administration on ways to improve the workplace. By listening to feedback we have received, we started another initiative with the staff orientation process. I am excited to see this area improve. The committee has begun working on ideas to make orientation a more efficient and welcoming process for those starting on campus.

What do you like to do outside of the work: family, hobbies, or other areas of interest?
TP: Most of my time is spent with my family. I am married to Mark and we have two beautiful daughters: Piper (4) and Marlee (1).  I enjoy being creative, whether it is designing, crafting, or decorating and planning events. I love to travel, and one of my favorite trips has been to Norway. During that trip, I traveled internationally by myself for the first time, and it was a great experience. I visited one of my best friends from college who is from Norway. I stepped out of my comfort zone and embraced being immersed in another culture. I love all types of music, and I have quite a collection of vinyl records. My mom gave me her vinyl albums from when she was a teenager, and I continually add to that collection. I am a board member of the Minot Pink Ladies. We are a nonprofit that raises money to help those battling cancer in our area. Most of our fundraising efforts revolve around playing darts since we are the Minot chapter of the national Pink Ladies Dart League. The Minot dart community is very supportive of our efforts, and we have been able to help quite a few families in our area.

What else are we missing in telling your story?
TP: My family has had a rough year, and I am extremely grateful for having a supportive workplace and coworkers. My youngest daughter was diagnosed with a rare kidney tumor at two and a half months old and had to have surgery to remove her kidney and large tumor. She was diagnosed days before I was to return to work from maternity leave. The support that I received from everyone at Minot State was incredible. My coworkers donated their time to help cover the additional time I was out during her recovery. The marketing team was very understanding with many doctor appointments and just being there for me on the hard days. My coworkers have also collected pop tabs for us to bring each time we go to Fargo for further testing and monitoring. Our family enjoys being able to give back to the Ronald McDonald House since they have helped us many times during this journey.

About Minot State University
Minot State University is a public university dedicated to excellence in education, scholarship, and community engagement achieved through rigorous academic experiences, active learning environments, commitment to public service, and a vibrant campus life.

Published: 05/23/24   

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