Since Stuart Summers, 30, was in Kindergarten, he knew what he wanted to do. “I got that in my head. I always wanted to be a television reporter. I would mimic them,” he says.
And so, after completing college – with a two-year break that encompassed a Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints mission to Mongolia – Summers’ landed his dream job: he anchored the morning show, The Today Show, at KPVI-TV News 6 for three years. “One of my very best friends from Idaho Falls was my co-anchor,” he says. “We did cooking segments, pet segments … I loved that job. But I’ll be honest, waking up at 3 a.m. every day, it was pretty tough.”
Summers says equally hard was going home at noon, when all of his contemporaries were still at work. “You’re kind of like, what do I do now? And then, going to bed at 7 p.m. – it just kind of wore on me.”
He looked around for a position where he could use his skills in journalism and broadcasting – and found his place at Idaho State University, first as director of marketing and recruitment, and since January as associate vice president for marketing and communications.
For a second time, he says, “it’s been kind of a dream come true.”
His previous work experience has segued perfectly with work at ISU, where Summers oversees and coordinates all of the internal and external communication efforts.
“I spend a large portion of my workday developing strategies with campus constituents, collaborating with senior administrators, reviewing analytics, and developing marketing initiatives. My areas of expertise include social media, graphic design, writing, event organizing, and strategic planning. I currently oversee the design of all University marketing materials, and I work closely to incorporate ISU’s brand attributes across a number of platforms, including printed publications and digital media.”
In 2015, Summers and his team came up with a marketing idea that skyrocketed and for which he was nationally recognized. Partnering with a number of campus programs, he devised a six-month contest for students to win Ultimate Bengal status – basically everything one would need to be a student at ISU for one year, from tuition to meals to housing and more. Social media was heavily involved and the contest was a roaring success. The Ultimate Bengal Challenge garnered “a 200 percent increase in social media engagement,” Summers says.
“We had 180,000 entries for a prize estimated at around $15,000,” he says. “We kind of set a new standard of what a university could accomplish through social media.” Other universities clamored to find out how they did it. “I even had a university in Italy call me,” Summers says, “wanting to replicate it.”
Summers, who comes from a large family with six siblings, says everyone in his family does remarkable things, “something my parents instilled in all of us. For me,” he says, “my parents have been the biggest influence in my life. ‘If it’s worth doing, you better put your heart into it and do it right.’ That’s helped me to get to where I am in life and I think my parents played a big role for who I am, for me meeting my goals and reaching for greater heights.”
Summers enjoys hiking, playing tennis, mountain biking and loves to be “in the know … I love reading the paper every day. I’m kind of a news junkie.” He loves to travel, can speak Mongolian fluently and has been back several times to see his friends in Mongolia. Music preference? “I like the music you would hear at the mall. That’s how I keep stress at bay.
Most memorable airplane trip: “My most memorable airplane ride was a chartered flight over the Grand Tetons. It was amazing to see them up close from the sky. Growing up in southeast Idaho, I had become familiar with seeing the grandeur of the Tetons numerous times, but seeing them from a different perspective gave me a new appreciation.”