By Rebecca Kappel, Strategy Director
Making it work in a changing communications landscape.
I am a marketer, but I am also an end-user. My professional inbox is flooded daily with B2B communications. My personal inbox is overloaded with B2C communications, and for the last year or so, it’s been inundated by higher ed marketing.
As a parent of a 2020 high school senior, I have witnessed the shift from pre-covid communications, eager to build a relationship with me as a parent and my daughter as a potential student, to pandemic messaging assuring families that the institutions that have operated for so long in the same manner are actively addressing my concerns for safety, continuity and the quality experience I want for my child.
The best communications in my inbox have a few things in common:
Subject lines and headlines are crafted to clearly and quickly communicate what’s in store for me in the content below. If you are communicating critical information, such as deadlines and process changes, be direct. Keep in mind the sea of emails that the audience is wading through, and make requests actionable.
Plans and strategies have been laid out, but the potential for shift is acknowledged and understanding requested as they navigate future changes. This allows for information transfer earlier in the process and management of student and family expectations. Sharing details about the decision-making process fosters understanding and empathy.
In-person events such as orientations and campus visits were replaced with dynamic virtual meetings and tours. Migrating something experiential to something virtual is no small task. By connecting with admissions counselors virtually early on, potential students can still build personal relationships. Layering on perspectives from current students maintains the feel of “inside information” that is the best part of the student led campus tour. (ie, which dining hall has the best pizza, the quiet place in the library to study, etc etc)
Opportunities were offered to crowdsource information. Relying more on social media channels and closed groups to crowdsource information from other parents keeps procedural calls and inquiries down, especially in housing, supplements institutional messages and creates community.
Voice and visuals are consistent cross-channel. Strong and recognizable visuals and a consistent tone make it all come together. Having a relatable and consistent “personality” is critical to students and families feeling like they know you.
The 2020-21 academic year promises to be an evolving and continuous communications challenge. While communications and marketing professionals are not on the front lines, what we bring to the table can ease tensions and calm fears. A well-informed constituency becomes a loyal base and will advocate for your brand.