Category Archives: admissions

Pinterest: Evolution Means You’re Not In Control

We in the marketing business are shameless users, snatching  the latest social media hit which always starts out as a fun, sharing platform among students, hobbyists, musicians, grandparents.

As soon as we see it grab traction, we jump on the machine  to see if we can steer it toward our purposes.

But in the beginning, we never have control of the steering wheel or the direction.

Pinterest is the latest platform exploding onto the scene.  Its mission is  to “connect everyone in the world through the ‘things’ they find interesting.”

Wikipedia also reports that for “January 2012 comScore reported the site had 11.7 million unique U.S. visitors, making it the fastest site ever to break through the 10 million unique visitor mark.”
Recently there was an interesting CUPRAP thread (CUPRAP is the world’s best organization for PR and marketing folks.)
There were many questions.  Who uses Pinterest?  What is the ROI?  Who is the  target audience?
It’s too early to ask these questions.   We’re in new territory.  Study it, play with it and experiment.
Seven years and a universe ago,  MU gained international attention for its use of podcasting. Now it’s not in the news but tens of millions of people listen to podcasts. Facebook was a college game and evolved into a $100 billion business.
Is Pinterest headed in the same direction?  My guess is yes.
Remember, we, the marketers are the intruders. Pinterest started as a site where people (mainly women) shared recipes, patterns, quilts.
It grew quickly  into much more and now we’re trying to make it work for us.
Don’t try to control it. You can’t. Social media evolves itself. Don’t ask right now what your target audience is. The target audience finds you if you do it right. Don’t ask what the ROI is. The target audience delivers it if you do it right.
How do you do it right?  You experiment.

As Mike Moran says Do It Wrong, Quickly.

We’re exploring Pinterest  at Mansfield and I’m experimenting with it personally.  UW Tacoma has a good site with variety and a sense of play, and other schools are fast joining the party.

Forget the “suit” questions right now.

Have fun and make sure your boards — interesting and substantive —  are there when your audience comes searching for  for you.

Pinterest: Have Fun, Keep It Real

I’m seeing Pinterest as a new wave viewbook.  Granted, high school students and parents haven’t caught up with it, but then, neither have colleges.

Our current viewbooks and recruiting materials are our packaged goods using  the old media philosophy of “this is who we are and we hope we can sell you on who we say we are.”

Pinterest offers a new slice of the 2.0+ philosophy.  The 2.0 language is: “This is who we are and we invite you to join in our discussions.”  The new spin is “this is who we are and we invite you to share our pictures/videos and comments.”

A student or a parent can poke through the boards to get a feel for the campus, its programs and activities.  But like all social media, it has to be real.  If you create boards that are as stiff, clunky and, mmm, didactic as printed materials sometimes are, your boards will fall flat.

There is a discussion about copyright which revolves  around people repinning photos of others, not knowing if they’re copyrighted.  Almost everything we post is ours. We own the pictures and we want you to repin them.  Just as we want you to share the photos on our website, our videos as well as our Facebook and Twitter material.

One reader commented on the last post that she’s worried about copyright if the school posts, say, the cover of a faculty book or bookstore items.  I’m not a lawyer but I can’t imagine a publisher or manufacturer getting upset about promoting their products.  As long as there is no misrepresentation or a third party making profit from their works, there shouldn’t be a problem.

The only glitch we’ve had is an artist who insists on approving photos taken of him in performance.  We’ve been waiting now for several weeks.  We haven’t heard from hm so we’ll use what we want.  Marilyn Monroe might have had approval rights, but this is a different age, one in which an audience member takes a picture and posts it on YouTube before the artist finishes his first verse.

Right now it’s important to get a Pinterest board started.  The possibilities are nearly endless.  The seasons, club activities, video testimonials,  and projects.  The secret is to keep it real and create categories that others — parents, students, alumni and constituents –are  interested in.

And it should cost next to nothing.  At Mansfield, we have a photo library of 40,000 + photos, student video testimonials, TV shows and more.  With some creative thinking about boards, they  fall together pretty easily.

It does take time to produce each board but with careful photo/video selection and tight writing, they shouldn’t have to be updated too often.

In fact, by the time your boards need to be updated, the print viewbook might well be a historical mention in Wikipedia.

A good introduction is The Ultimate Guide to Marketing Your Blog, Podcast or Videos with PinterestIt’s a free download and aside from the writers using “great” every other graph, it is written in a simple and lively way and has good, solid information.

It didn’t take long for us marketing folks to see a new venue to promote our stuff. Is it a good venue?

Actually, I think it’s excellent.

The bottom line is to be there when the audience comes looking for you.

Pinterest & College Marketing

Pinterest is the new social media explosion.
Is it the Wild West all over again?
Yes.
Do we marketing types really know how to use it?
Not really.
Do we need to jump on the wagon?
Absolutely.
Pinterest is the world’s fastest growing social media site. It started as a way to share — gardening tips, fashion, recipes, and wedding planning.  The primary demo was, and continues to be for now, women.
But it’s changing and expanding at an exponential speed that would have excited Einstein. Do a search for anything — antique swords, silent movies, Eros– and you’ll find people who share your interest.

It’s a virtual bulletin board in Alice’s Wonderland. Hours melt  before you as you follow this link, and search for this subject and find worlds within worlds, still pointing to more.

Will Pinterest last? I think so.

The news that we’re an increasingly visual society is old.  Words are work. People read less and less as time passes.  I don’t like it but I’m working to accept it.
Who imagined that YouTube, from its first amateurish, silly, and often sophomoric postings would become the most popular search engine in the world?
In my mind, Pinterest is a college marketer’s dream.
Mansfield University jumped onto Pinterest in early 2012.  A no-brainer .  We’ve created boards on Stars Who Have Performed at Mansfield,  Scenes on Campus, Regional Activities, and Student Organizations, Campus Buildings, and others.  We’ll be adding more.

We organize — visually — our topics of interest, fill in with short written content and post.

Does it work?  Don’t ask.  In the marketing world Pinterest is in its infancy.

Is it worth the time involved?  Yes.  Experiment.  Test.  Play.

In the next post:

-It costs nothing;

-Use the resources and materials you already have;

-Copyright doesn’t have to be a dilemma.

My No Budget TV Talk Show Pt 2

“Conversations” has been airing for three months.  Our first guest was VP for finance Mike Reid about a new community relations committee and some of its goals.

I did this to show that  the university is very involved in the community and the region.   We interspersed information about Mike’s farm, his family who created a business selling maple syrup and apiary products.

Admissions Director  Brian Barden was another guest.  I wanted people to see how complex his operation is, how the admissions process works year- around, and some of the challenges he faces to bring in not only a diverse mix of students, but the challenges of filling certain programs.

I followed up on one request and interviewed Mansfield University President Maravene Loeschke and local optometrist and trustee Bob Strohecker about a new  college/community committee whose first project is to raise money for a movie theatre.

We took the equipment into the field and interviewed officials on a new business park and what it would mean to the community.

I have a roster of potential guests that could fill the next year.   I  do a show every two weeks so neither I nor my producer will be inundated.  The show airs four times morning and evening each weekend.

In the show itself, I take two breaks which we use  to air MU commercials.  Possibly, in time, I’ll seek commercials from area businesses, charge a nominal amount and turn the money over to our Foundation for scholarships.    (I’m thinking out loud here.)

After several shows aired, I wrote a news release and we sent it out to local media.    People on campus and around the area have stopped me to tell me how much they like the show and what a great community service it is.  This is the kind of word-of-mouth publicity you can’t buy.

Like everything else that all of us do, the producer and I have fit it into a crowded schedule.  But the payoff on a local and regional level is worth it.

We pull the audio, lay down a music bed and turn some of the shows into podcasts.  I also have an intern breaking the shows into four-five segments to upload on Youtube.  (I actually had requests to do this from people not on the local cable. I’m sure alumni will be interested, too).

Some of you have also expressed interest in seeing them so I’ll provide a link in a future post when some are up.

I emphasize again that this show is no budget.  No special effects.  No set design.  We use a few still shots when appropriate.  It’s exactly what the show title says it is, conversations.

As we do more shows, I’ll keep you posted on our progress and what I learn.

If you have thoughts or ideas, please share them.

Radio and TV Ad Buys –Drive a Bargain

If you do ad buying for radio and TV, you know it’s a buyer’s market.
You know the first quarter is the slowest one for broadcast media. This year it’s even slower. The auto industry, which media counts on, has tanked. Other major retailers are struggling.
Advertising has been reduced to a weak crawl and the broadcast  is hurting almost as badly as print.
This means two things:
1. If you have the money, now’s the time to advertise.
2. Don’t pay standard rates.
I usually get some very good deals in the first quarter — like 50% off, two ads for one, etc.
This week a radio station came out with a deal:  buy $500 worth of ads and get an extra $750 in free spots.
Another sales rep who I’ve been dealing with for years was pushing a new, great bargain. I held off. Before we were finished, the bargain $1500 deal dropped to $1,000 with a lot of free bonus spots thrown in.
He admitted that this quarter was especially “challenging” with the drop in auto ads and some other businesses who were not advertising.
“We have a lot of inventory,” he said. “We can be very flexible and it’s a great time to take advantage.” Broadcast media need to fill airtime. It’s how they exist. Dead air is just not allowed.

If all this sounds cold,  sorry, it’s business. Supply and demand.  I’ve paid top dollar when their inventory was nearly full (Christmas, political campaigns).  Now it’s reversed, and you, the buyer have a lot of leverage.

Use it.
Sales reps  put on good faces, as they should. But while all of them tell me their respective stations are doing well, their statements were belied by Clear Channel’s recent announcement of more than 1,800 layoffs — sales reps, general managers, programmers and personalities.

It looks like this trend will continue into the second and maybe even the third quarters.

Do your university a favor and don’t accept any deal at face value.  Work a little bit and get a better deal. Sales reps are under the gun to sell and management is getting very creative.

My ad budget was reduced this year, as yours probably was.  But with the advantage you have, you can get some great buys and keep your institution ahead of the competition.

I have a couple deal-maker arguments I’ve developed.  If you want more info, let me know and I’ll do a more detailed post.

Message by Bubble

Once in awhile something new comes along that just feels right.  It feels exciting.  It is bubbling with potential.

I was reading Ad Age Digital where I go for new and unique ideas from today’s leading advertising and marketing experts.  I opened the article “What Brands Can Learn from a Weiner,” which I found mildly interesting.

I scrolled down to the comments and discovered a person who left a video message.  I clicked the link but instead of going to YouTube or the person’s site, the guy appeared in a bubble.  I also found that no matter where you scroll on the page, the bubble moves to stay in view.  I know that’s nothing new, but the idea of a bubble video comment is just too cool.

I wanted more so I clicked on the article’s author, David Armano.  It took me to his blog, Logic + Emotion and after a little poking around, I found he was intrigued by the bubble, too, and had a link to the service’s site, Bubble Comment.

The first thing that came to mind is testimonials from students on our Mansfield University home page.  On our Admissions page.  Department pages.  Alumni testimonials or messages.

The free version allows messages up to 30 seconds. . . .Well, you can check out the services and limitations.

Let me know if you can think of other applications.

Web, PR, Admissions = Great Discussion

Okay, I’ve been wrestling with something for months and Matthew Herzberger’s recent post really pulled things together for me.  Well, actually it was the comments that brought things into focus. 

What I’d like is for you to go to his post, read it and the comments.  Then come back here.

(Time passes. . . .)

Okay, you’re back? 

Matt’s post was a well-done rant of a passionate, frustrated Web guy who needs to reach out and share his thoughts (and despondency) with others of us who have felt the same need to find a high cliff.

Several people agreed with him. 

Then Karyn entered. 

Whoah!  New spin on this discussion!

It was an extraordinary conversation, the kind we should be having more often. 

We have stats freaks.  We have Matt who likes stories and anecdotal evidence (same here, but I’m wading into the world of stats at the strong request of my boss). 

But most importantly, we have actual discussion among professionals from different fields of expertise.  

There are three groups today that should be merging and working as one team: The Web team, public relations, and admissions. 

As PR director, I work closely with admissions to motivate students to inquire about our university.  After they inquire, it’s up to admissions to lead them through the next steps.

We try to reach students through traditional advertising and, increasingly, marketing on the Web. 

So I need to understand how the admissions process works.  The admissions director has taken me through a full recruiting cycle.  I’ve gone out on the road with them to college fairs and high schools to experience the break-neck pace, the rushing crowds, smart students and students who should pursue careers as shepherds.

I need to understand Web folks, how they think, talk, and operate and the pressures they face daily.   They also need to understand my role in PR, marketing, and being responsible for the institution’s image.  We need not only to interact, but to actually work together. 

While each of us has several departmental goals, our common goal is to make a variety of publics aware of the university in a truthful, positive manner.

At Mansfield, the Web folks, admissions and PR have been talking more frequently with the development of a content management system.  I’m sure we’ll continue working together after it goes live. 

And I think discussions like the one on Matt’s post should continue. 

In his comment, Kyle  said : “We are the pioneers and the explorers.”  Okay, that means the rules are still being formed.  We’re still defining the terrain.  And, hopefully, we’re coming together as a team, learning each other’s language and experimenting our way toward a common community.

The beauty of the Matt post/discussion is that the various points  of view are presented in a civil, respectful way by thoughtful, passionate professionals.

It made me think.

And that’s what higher education is all about.

What are your thoughts?