Category Archives: Marketing Communications

Recruiting & Promotion: What Colleges & Universities Should Be Doing Online

Today, I responded to a CASE listserv request about recruiting blogs being launched by colleges. I have a lot of ideas about this kind of campaign. I’m sharing here in hopes you’ll offer some feedback, too. Thanks.

Here’s what I shared on the list…

You’ve likely already thought of these, but FWIW – here goes …

Short story? Video. RSS. Re-purpose the content in other sites – off-campus. Build a team of student influentials.

Ideas? Use video … video is the most popular draw and it can serve to tell the story in a way that really “shows your school” to the potential students. Keep ’em short – under 2 minutes. Video is fun. Video is real people (peers) sharing the school’s identity. They own it (the identity) and create it / morph it every day. Not the school. Allow them to put your view of the identity into their words. (Caveat: set guidelines for your students … what can and cannot be shown.)

Students at campus and off-campus events showing it happening and also interviewing students & others. For the off-campus life stories, see the caveat above. Students interviewing students and faculty about classes / campus environment …. staff interviewing each other, various student services people on campus and more.

Again, keep the videos short. It really is important.

Examples of research? Just days old, Generations online:
http://pewresearch.org/pubs/1093/generations-online

A year old, but good:
http://www.pewinternet.org/pdfs/PIP_Teens_Social_Media_Final.pdf

Invest in Flip cams or whatever kind of inexpensive, yet good quality, video camera and “give them” to a select group of students. Seven students? Ask them for one video a week. Stagger them out. Get students that are truly bought into the school and program. Even better? Pay them.

For the videos, don’t just put them in the blogs … use TubeMogul.com to post them to 15 or more video sharing networks at once. Maximize the possibilities of organic search to help people find your blogs & videos. Upload the videos to Facebook & MySpace, too. Place links back to your blog landing page in every description of every video on every site … along with your key terms & phrases as tags. Be consistent.

Create a landing page with RSS headlines of all the blogs. Editorial can create a top link set of the best blogs.

Setup a Facebook fan page and MySpace page and any use other useful social networks … RSS the posts into those pages. Re-purpose the content so that it is seen elsewhere, too.

Set a key string of keywords/phrases that get posted in each and every article. (WordPress Tags)

Give the site a prominent front page placement on your school’s gateway … a 150x150px icon, for instance. Yes, I know how difficult that can be to gain acceptance for, but without that buy-in, do any of us really expect success? That’s where many of your potentials will first land in most instances.

Bring the key students together periodically with soda & pizza to get them thinking as a team. Create a team of ambassadors. Give them t-shirts. Build a tight community of believers.

Why more schools don’t do this, I just really don’t understand. Colleges have built in influentials … your students. Is it risky? Sure. Can you monitor and guide it along? Yes, but with a light hand.

Honestly, I don’t understand why all colleges/schools/departments within a university don’t do this in coordination with Admissions. Think of the search possibilities all of that combined constantly new content can drive toward your Web site.

I share all the above at the risk of sounding too “online slap happy.” Still, I really do believe that these tactics can help your strategy of attracting viewers. I’m not drunk on social media koolaid. I recognize the risks. But, with a good relationship with the students you choose, and giving them freedom (feeling empowered to help the school), I believe you can be successful.

On top of all that, this really is an inexpensive way to boost your recruiting program. It isn’t a panacea, but it is the way to go, IMO.

OK, that’s what I shared. There is so much more to it, but I’m truly sold on the possibilities of these types of programs. The one thing that is still missing today? Buy-in from the higher ups. One of the greatest frustrations.

One would think, in a time requiring inexpensive yet worthwhile initiatives, this would be adopted with glee. Still waiting.

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Three Links :: Excellent Posts and a Video For You

Still exploring the Revolution theme and the featured posts capability. So, this week, I’m sharing three posts from great people. You’ll enjoy them, I’m sure.

First, we find an article about social media perhaps producing social change and helping someone with a terminal illness. Then, we learn that the SEC has recognized the spread of online / web communications (particularly social media) and they’ve now updated guidelines for publicly traded companies with regard to their Web sites and (if you read it into the speech) social media. Finally, we find the most wonderful video. You’ll want to watch it. Look to your right and you’ll find it is our featured video today. Continue reading

Another PROpenMic Success :: Maria Garcia and Lindsey George at Converseon

The PROpenMic social Maria Garcianetwork for PR students, faculty and practitioners continues to prove successful.

Paull Young, of Young PR and Converseon emailed me the other day with news. He reminded me of the two people at Converseon that found their way to the firm through social media, and PROpenMic, in particular.  Continue reading

Social Network for College & University PR Students and Faculty :: PROpenMic.org

One place for all PR students and faculty to meetup and mashup ideas about emerging digital media. That’s been my dream.

Sure, we’ve been creating our blogs and podcasts. We’ve been following each others writings and media. All fun. All good. But, there really hasn’t been one place for everyone to do a meet and greet … until now.

PROpenMic.org is the place.

PROpenMic? A metaphor. Step up and speak your mind. Our goal is to be the social network for PR students and faculty worldwide. We have common interests, goals and certainly can learn from one another.

PROpenMic.org logo

The site is open to practitioners, too. So, if you’re interested, please come and join in the discussion.

We can share documents, audio, video … a music / podcast player, forums, blogs & photo albums for each member … RSS feeds, photo albums, and more. Already people are blogging and four forums have begun – PR Syllabi & Resources, PR / Marcom Pros, Faculty and Students. We can start more, too.

Connect & Collaborate

I love sharing and learning. No better way to do that than to interact with your peer groups, right? So, my hope is that we can all come together – from around the world – and connect in this community.

The site is built upon the Ning.com platform, so it has a sort of Facebook-like appeal. The difference? No ads. No apps sending you numerous emails. Just PR people. Hey, I like Facebook for connections, but to do what we wanted to do … a mashup of content in one place … we had to have our own platform, in my opinion.

Meetup, Mashup & Share

Already, in one day, we have people signing up. Blogs, forums & video sharing are already seeing a bit of activity. We want more, though. Interest has come in from Asia, Europe, North America & Australia. How about you? and your students?

I realize that starting this at the end of a semester isn’t the ideal time. But, I had an epiphany on Sunday night and just started building the site. By Monday morning it was essentially ready to go, so I shared PROpenMic.org in Twitter and through an email to about two dozen people.

Please Join

I’m seeking your support, please. Share PROpenMic.org with your students, fellow faculty, PR/Marcom colleagues and more. Sign up yourself and there is a very easy “invite” process for you to use. Thank you.

Note: PROpenMic.org will never sell or share your email address or personal information with anyone else. You choose what to share on the site. This is a nonprofit academic project, primarily for the benefit of our students. No cost. No ads.

And, just so you’ll know … This is for real, too. No April Fool’s silliness, here … unlike this one from Google. Hat tip to Brett Pohlman for that one.

FlackLife Reveals Foolish Astroturfing Campaign from Hunter College and Coach Handbags

Definition of astroturfing:

Astroturfing refers to marketing / public relations campaigns which attempt to create the impression of being spontaneous and true, genuine (and representations of *real* people and their opinions) when, in fact, they are not. In all of the standards of practice listed below, this practice is considered to be unethical.

Astroturfing is an interesting topic. I see PR practitioners that defend it as a valuable tool. Others decry it as unethical and bad practice. I’ll place myself in the latter group.

FlackLife blogger, Bob LeDrew, has the story in two posts so far. They are “Now we flacks get students to astroturf for us” and an interview with Hunter College faculty member and “PR expert Stuart Ewen on (the) ‘Heidi Cee’” astroturf blogging, social networks and YouTube video fiasco.

This example from Hunter College and Coach goes beyond simple astroturfing, though. This involves the following (Sources: here and here):

I simply cannot imagine a more definitive example of bad practice than this case. The interference by the president, the campaign tied to a donation to the college, the creation of a course solely to accomplish the deceit, the students (it seems) happily joining in, the faculty and department chair encouraging them along … it just boggles the mind. How stupid can these people be?

Read the links, watch the video. Fake vs. Fakes | Center for Media and Democracy. What do you think of all this? I’ve already seen two PR practitioners in a listserv group defend the practice. Oh, brother.

Update: Ya’ gotta read this great post by Clemson’s Dr. Mihaela Vorvoreanu. In particular, see the class blog she came across for the course. Yikes!

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New Rules of Marketing and PR :: Students Feeling A Buzz

Fall semester brings more blogging and social media exercises to my classrooms. This semester, as with all in the past, I’ve tried to do something new with the hope of catching the imagination of each student.

I have a story, but first – some background.

The PR Writing class is reading David Meerman Scott‘s book, The New Rules of Marketing and PR. Then, theyNew Rules of Marketing and PR by David Meerman Scott are writing about it in their Fall 2007 class blogs. Along the way, the students are also exploring social media releases, online release portals and more. You’ll be happy to know that they are doing a lot of other writing, too. Releases, features and more are weekly exercises. Finally, they will create an online newsroom for a nonprofit client … a real client.

I’ve never said, and never will say, that social media will replace tried and true public relations practices. It does offer a new way, sometimes a more appropriate and successful way, of serving a client’s interests and those of their stakeholders. And, developing an understanding of online release writing and delivery is certainly useful.

So, the story is that – as usual – many students are skeptics. Jackie is was one of them. But, she recently had an ah-ha! experience. Continue reading