My Blog Beat – Higher Ed Marketing

So, the topic I chose for my Social Media Theory grad class is Marketing in Higher Education. It’s what I do everyday. I came from an corporate ad agency into high ed marketing a little over five years ago. I came from a place where the client or boss decided on a course of action, and as part of a creative team, we executed it. Coming to a university, I initially had a hard time with the concept of shared governance between administrators and faculty — getting consensus and buy-in on marketing initiatives was rough at first, but now I think I am the first one to ask “Have you surveyed faculty about that?”

I want to cover the topic of marketing in higher education to share information with colleagues at other universities and share ideas on what works, what doesn’t work and the challenges that Communications & Marketing offices face in today’s highly competitive market. I’ve also recently received a promotion to Executive Director in my office with project management as one of my top priorities — would love to share my experiences and get advice from others.

I’ve come to learn that marketing at a university can take many forms — the glamourous and not-so glamourous. For example, this week I had to approve a student group t-shirt design for one of our colleges (Engineering) – and let’s just say it was more mad scientist versus collegiate, but they had used the logo appropriately, so I let it go. I go from that to high level discussions on rolling out a promotion plan with Cracker Barrel on a new line of limited Centennial merchandise. In my office, I am responsible for working with both undergrad, graduate and international admissions on recruitment (graduate is especially a priority for our university with a target of increasing our student base by 10% at the end of this academic year). I also perform a lot of administrative duties with paperwork, contracts, budgets, scheduling and legalese. I also am in charge of licensing — approving uses of the university logos and working with vendors on merchandise.

My to-do list right now is 2 pages long, and I just worked an 11-hour day on Friday to wrangle all the handouts and folders together for an office-wide retreat on Monday Jan. 27 — I will be posting the cliff notes of what we discuss. Basically, it boils down to the fact that the university itself is changing/evolving, and we have to decide how our office is going to adapt. We’ve also recently had a lot of internal restructure (my promotion just one piece), and that needs to be explained and addressed. I work with a multi-talented group of people — designers, writers, photographers, programmers and strategists — I hope we can set a positive agenda for our office for 2014.

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Social Media Networks

The social media networks that I use most often are Facebook (daily), Pinterest (weekly), Twitter (monthly/sporadically; mostly look at tweets versus post my own tweets). And of course, just signed up for my first blog on WordPress and for a Flickr account. I use Facebook to share photos, view photos, interact with favorite brands and score special deals and coupons, keep up with family and friends (with 40 first cousins just on one side of my family – that can be a challenge 🙂 I use Pinterest to organize my online interests (recipes, favorite quotes, favorite geeky stuff, etc.). Pinterest is also a huge time-waster – I can kill hours on Pinterest and still feel like I’ve accomplished something, even though its only virtually. Twitter is the social media I try to use in the most professional manner – sharing articles that pertain to my career field (higher ed marketing) and following thought leaders in my industry. I also use Twitter to follow my favorite authors and comedians. For me, the most interesting thing about social media is how fast it spread and was adopted. Even though I am at the beginning of the Millennial generation (born 1982), I didn’t even have an email address until I was a senior in high school (2000), and can remember the slowness of Netscape, using an electric typewriter and doing paste-up on my high school newspaper. Now, I carry the internet in my pocket on my phone and can stay connected to hundreds of family, friends and acquaintances with the push of an icon. One area I like to research is mobile marketing and social media – how can businesses use this powerful tool to reach consumers and be part of their social experience.