Communicating Excellence


Alumni Profile

Crossing Paths

Jon Lieb '91 (left) and
Chris Elser '89

On Sept. 15, 1989, Jon Lieb wrote a Mule football team preview for his first article as sports editor of The Muhlenberg Weekly. In the article, Lieb lamented the loss of Chris Elser to graduation: "...The quarterback is a rare breed in sports....In Chris Elser, the Mules had a signal caller who arguably could be listed as the best quarterback to ever walk through the red doors of Muhlenberg..." At the time, Lieb had never met Elser (Class of 1989), but certainly knew of his passing records.

Lieb never did meet Elser until their paths finally crossed 14 years later in New York City, when Lieb, who runs a public relations firm called Thirty Ink Media & Marketing, started handling PR work for Elser & Aucone. Elser & Aucone is a prominent NY-based advertising agency, in which Chris is a senior vice president, also working with his brother Stephen and father Arnold, who co-founded the firm with Bill Aucone in 1985. The Elsers and Lieb met by complete coincidence, when a mutual friend (who didn't even know the Muhlenberg connection) knew E&A was looking for an executive to handle PR work for their clients.

A star quarterback in his four years at Muhlenberg, Chris Elser '89 is second on the all-time passing list with 4549 career yards. He and Jon Lieb '91, who did not know each other at the 'Berg, recently met for the first time to collaborate on a higher-education public relations project.

During 2004, Lieb and Elser had the chance to collaborate in support of a highly worthy cause. Mercy College, a client of E&A, was about to launch its new Bronx Campus (which had just received a $1 million grant from Gov. Pataki for the new campus in a clearly underserved community). With undergraduate students averaging 29 years of age and graduate students averaging 37, the school meets the needs of not only the traditional student, but also the working adult. Moreover, 80 percent of Mercy College students will be the first in their families to receive a college education. Fifty percent come from families with incomes of less than $20,000.

With Elser directly coordinating all on site collateral and marketing/advertising support and Lieb handling the PR/media relations, Mercy College had an extremely successful launch of its new Bronx campus. "To attract non-traditional students, you need a non-traditional approach and not all clients have the courage to spend their marketing dollars that way. With over 100 different ethnicities represented in the student body and the number of first generation college students coming to Mercy, the College has an amazing story to tell. It's very rewarding to have it turn out so well, knowing so many people on both the client and agency side worked so hard," Elser said. "When a client tells you they exceeded their goals, it's energizing. Now we need to take that initial success and build upon it. It's great to have a client that understands the relationship between marketing and PR and how if they work together, they'll realize a cost efficiency and cohesion of message that is unmatched," he added.

"I have worked in public relations for the past 13 years, but the collaboration with Chris and the Elser & Aucone team has brought a perspective that I never experienced when working at other PR agencies. Too many agencies out there simply work in silos, which ultimately sacrifices what you can achieve for a client," Lieb concluded. "We were able to generate feature press coverage for Mercy's new Bronx campus in several prominent outlets such as The New York Daily News, The Financial Times, El Diario, Crain's New York Business, Hoy, The Journal News, Bronx Times Reporter, as well as a feature on NY1 News TV.

It was an event that even exceeded its billing and the date will forever hold important ramifications in the Bronx.


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