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?
Do we marketing types really know how to use it?
Not really.
Do we need to jump on the wagon?
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?


Sunday Afternoon Thoughts Part 8

Hmm.  The celebrated 100th post slipped right by me.  Just noticed I’ve done 102 posts since I started in February 2007.  We’ll toot the horns at 200.


I’ve given in. I’m beaten.  I’ve taken the sex out of Lonely Girl.  I tried an experiment and entitled my July 3rd entry Lonely Girl 15: Sex, Mystery and Web 2.0 just to see what would happen.  It’s an accurate title and I did get hits, lots of them.  Still does.  But a lot of them are coming through searches for subjects I don’t even dare mention.  Anyway, I want my readers to be those who share my interest in higher ed marketing.  I don’t care how popular I am (well, that’s a lie; I care a lot).  So I  changed the  title to Lonely Girl 15: S**, Mystery and Web 2.0.  Is that going to solve the s*x deviant problem?  If not, I may have to boot her off my blog, lonely or not.  I shudder at  the thought of how many testosterone-driven teens are disappointed when they hit my post. And if they are getting off on it, we have some major problems with American teen males.


Found:  through Bob Johnson’s blog this site which just blew me away at the Virginia Commonwealth University Brandcenter   That’s right.  It’s no longer the Adcenter.


Radio sales reps, to survive, must live in a constant state of denial.  A rep was selling me on her station. I said I was thinking twice about radio in the face of iTunes, etc.  She said it had not affected the listenership of her station a bit.  I knew she had daughters, ages  12 and 15.  “Do they have iPods?”  I asked.

“Oh, yes.  They  listen to them all the time.”

“When do they listen to your station?”

She smiled.  “When I drive them to school, I make them leave their iPods home and we listen to my station.”


I couldn’t get out of my mind Karine Joly’s post about the study showing the TV-online activity among kids.  This has huge implications for marketers.


Found this dichotomy while surfing Podcasting News.  Podcast guru Adam Curry’s company Podshow  just laid off 1/3 of its workforce.  At the same time podcasting network Wizzard Media announced it’s  working on the “first international geo-targeted audio podcast advertising campaign.” Tumultuous times.

But the biggest news?  There is a podcast dedicated to The Big Lebowski .  Dude, that’s awesome . . . .


Scoble Rocks Out:  Came across this from a facebook friend.  Robert Scoble as rock star.  Hilarioius.  


What do you do when the most popular DJ in the region goes off on a half hour rant calling you the “worst PR person in the world?”

That’s the subject of my two-part blog next week. 


Sunday Afternoon Thoughts Part 2

We had an ice storm Friday. Mansfield University was closed. Everything was closed except stores. We live in a retail society. Let’s see, after 9-11, the President told us to stay calm and go shopping. Okay, there’s some ice out there but Wal-Mart is open and selling for less.

Matt Herzberger asked in his post if he should do two blogs, separating his personal life from his professional. No. I’m like others who replied to him. I like the combination. I like hearing that in addition to working your butt off to keep up with marketing or webbing, that you’re getting a puppy or your four-year-old made you a Valentine’s Day card with your lipstick. If we’re all about conversations, let’s be humans.

Brad Ward is beta testing his and Matt’s new site and it’s a winner. When it’s live I’ll share the news.

I posted earlier about the Flip camcorder. Our usual approach is to buy things on line where we can get them cheaper. This time I went to our downtown Radio Shack because local folks have the franchise. The owner had never heard of the Flip. I showed them to him online. I ordered three and had to wait a week. I paid full price. When they came in I ordered two more. Both the husband and wife who run Radio Shack thanked me several times for keeping it local. The extra $75 I paid for the five Flips was worth a hundred times the investment for their good feelings (and you know what good feelings are worth locally or nationally).

A couple things happened here. They feel good about the university. And because I happened to introduce them to something that’s going to be hot, they have a new product they can push. Of course, I told them I would direct people to them as well.

FJ Gaylor recently wrote a post about hearing ads for colleges on NPR, wondering if this really hit our target audience. Our university has been an underwriter on two area NPR stations for 10 years—WSKG in Binghamton, NY and WVIA in Scranton, PA. Our faculty listens to them all the time and it’s a continual morale booster. Anecdotally, a high school principal came up to a counselor at a college fair and thanked us for supporting our local NPR station. He added that he recommended our university to many of his students.

One day I’ll do a separate post about NPR and the halo effect.


Director Tom’s posts are poetry. I think it comes from living what he loves.

For a year I’ve been trying to get into Facebook and just can’t get excited enough to do it on a regular basis. Anyone else have the same Facebook Resistance Syndrome?


Last week I wrote a post about staying with one subject. On Sundays I break my rules.

The dogs are ready to play ball. I have to scrape ice off the driveway, then clean the bathroom.

Random Sunday Thoughts

It’s an icy Sunday afternoon with the wind chill around 15 below but the dogs don’t care.  So we play ball until I’m frozen. Then I come in, thaw, and write. 


I’ve spent hours on the Web, reading blogs and following links and learning stuff I never intended to but am glad I did.  I have Brad Ward to thank for that. I started checking out some of his favorite links until TO (technological overload) sent me for another coffee.


I think about the state of consciousness of different generations.  I still sit in amazement that I can post a comment to the Word Press guys and my photo is searched, found and uploaded with my reply.

I still find it oddly comforting that in this international, instant communication world we address each other by our first names, even though we’ll always be strangers. (That’s an oversimplification that I’ll temper in the future).

I still look at being able to record something with a web cam the size of your palm and upload it instantly as just short of miraculous.

At the same time, to a six-year-old it’s part of the daily routine.  

I don’t know how to reconcile those points of view.  The way younger generations take all this stuff for granted is the way it should be, I suppose.  But are they losing something in the process?

I feel like I have. While whole new worlds open to us everyday, I don’t read books (printed books) as I did years ago.  I used to read two or three books a week.  Now I read 20 blogs  a day and one book a month. (Gregg Braden’s The Divine Matrix and John Dunning’s The Sign of the Book are the current ones).


Steve Jobs dismisses Amazon’s Kindle as an instant failure because Americans don’t read anymore.  I’ve talked about that in previous posts.


I’ve signed up for Tweet Scan though I’ve never used Twitter.  But as a marketing person I need to follow as many conversations as possible about Mansfield University.


 D.W. Simpson has an eye-opening study  that provides one more piece of evidence that high school students search for colleges in a completely different way today.


If I were in the movie/TV industry, the writer’s strike would have me scared sick. 


The public is not complaining.  No clamor for new episodes or new shows.  No mass angst about no new movies.  That loss of viewership that’s been going on for several years is going to continue.  The irony is the strike is about the very industry that’s eating away at traditional entertainment and the longer the strike, the more time we spend on the Web. I’ve said before that once people experience the freedom of downloadable or streaming content, they don’t back to the restrictions of traditional media.


Now, back outside with the dogs — a reality check in more ways than one — then some ginger tea while I read something I can hold in my hand.