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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