Category Archives: marketing

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.

Marketing Vengeance, Part 2

I’m doing this series because at least half the people I’ve met in my life are either writers or want to be writers.   Everybody has a book in them and someday wants to write it.

The problem is, after the slow process of watching blood pop  through your pores to write your masterpiece, you’re faced with either the 19th century pace of trying to find an agent in the Old Boy Network of the slowly dying publishing world, or marketing the book yourself.  I chose the latter.

I’m fortunate to have friends in the media.   Anthony Cardno writes a respected arts blog,  interviewed with me and yes, sales spiked for days after it appeared.
Another writer friend, whom I had interviewed for my Conversations show, Bill Robertson, interviewed me for the show. Again, sales jumped, then sank. Robyn Bradley, author of the beautifully written and intriguing novel What Happened at Granite Creek has been incredibly generous in sharing what she’s learned promoting through social media.
But I learned again that reading about how to do things and actually doing them are two different worlds. I’ve been immersed in social media for years and I knew that you have to seek out websites and blogs of people with similar interests and through engagement become a part of that community and then quietly promote your book.
This, I found, is really time-consuming.
I was also amazed all over again at the nearly infinite world of social media sites. One Woman’s Vengeance is a western. I found — and joined — sites on everything from the American Cowboy to Tombstone to Doc Holliday and I engage. I haven’t had the courage to introduce my book yet. I still have that feeling of a new kid in town coming to a  school and not wanting to be ridiculed or banished from the circles.
I have found that reviews on Amazon and Barnes and Noble don’t do that much except boost the author’s ego if they’re good.

A couple radio interviews — one was 15 minutes by a host who loved the book and the genre — shot blanks.  But it was fun.

The reviews, from people I know and complete strangers, are almost consistently 5 stars and passionate in their love of the main character, Nora Hawks. But passion, so far, has not translated into sales.
(I will say that I have learned a lot about my own book and characters through the reviews but that’s the subject for another post).
What I find most annoying is that, after work,  I’m a writer. I just want to write.  I made the choice to self-publish because I dislike the System and I really don’t have years to waste with rejection slips.  I did that in my 20′s.
I wonder, though, how most writers succeed in this social media world. Marketing and self-promotion is tough. I’m familiar with marketing. I do it everyday at Mansfield University and I’m finding it hard, with a couple hours each night, to do it for myself.

And yet, I wouldn’t do it any other way.

I’m learning, and if you’re interested, I’ll keep sharing my successes and my stumbles.   Pretty interesting journey.

 

Marketing One Woman’s Vengeance

I’ve slowed down with my higher ed marketing posts because marketing my second novel, One Woman’s Vengeance has been so all-consuming.
I made a decision 10 years ago that I would not go with the  tiresome, good-old-boy 19th century rejection slip model of trying to find an agent who would then try to find a publisher while watching your life pass in this anachronistic,  dying game.
So I talked to writer friends,  did my own research and finally decided upon Lulu. I had published The Perfect Song (pseudonym Damon) with iUniverse in 2004 and was  happy with their process, with the exception of the cover, and that’s a whole post in itself.
Lulu offered more freedom (again, maybe another post for those interested in publishing).
I found a cover artist  and it was worth every penny of his price (another post!)
We had a couple technical glitches and I give Lulu high marks for helping work through them, though all communications had to be through chat.  Once Vengeance was published I found myself standing in the world of social media marketing, surprised that it seemed so vast and new.
Understand that when I published The Perfect Song, Facebook was barely a DNA sample and such sites as Goodreads did not exist. Amazon was the 800-pound gorilla but it wasn’t yet the ubiquitous force that it is now. Social media marketing was barely out of diapers.
And (most importantly) the  e-books industry was just inching onto  the radar with the general reading public.
I paid a designer to create a website for The Perfect Song and did all the things the experts at the time said you should do. I look at it now as a creaky structure whose owner had good intentions.  With Vengeance, I created my own site with WordPress, which I use for all four of my blogs.
I should note that as the PR director at Mansfield University I have worked hard over the years to stay, if not ahead of the curve, at least on it, as far as social media and marketing.
We were among the first  to use podcasting in recruiting and other areas of promotion.  I jumped on Animoto and other forms of social media promotion.
But now, with One Woman’s Vengeance, I was on my own, confused and naive.

I took a step forward, feeling like Frodo, moving into a strange, vast land where the shifting mists constantly keep you off balance and just a little directionless.

***

Next:  Nora Hawks watched her husband get murdered, and lived through an ultra-violent  near fatal gang rape.  Can she now survive the grueling gauntlet social media?

The local store that made our Christmas

Shop local.
I experienced the importance of this a few weeks ago. Dunham’s Department Store in Wellsboro is a family-owned  store founded in 1905.
They’re also one of my wife’s clients. She came home from a meeting with owners John and Nancy Dunham after Thanksgiving and over supper talked about the meeting.

“After the meeting, when I was looking around, I saw the most beautiful coat,” she said.  I was half listening but remembered something about “soft” and  “rust color.”
It was so beautiful, she said, and there was only one in her size. She was sure it would be gone in a few days.
A couple weeks later, I did a book signing at From My Shelf Books, another locally owned, indie business. I walked up to Dunham’s, hoping they might still have the coat and could identify it with my meager two clues.
I ran into John and Nancy in the snack shop, sat down and had a bowl of soup and coffee.
“Linda saw a coat,” I said. I don’t know anything about it except it’s soft and rust colored.”
Nancy thought it over. “Well, I think I saw her looking at a coat in the display window.” She thought some more. “Based on what she’s bought in the past — like that white jacket a couple years ago. . . I think. . . let me go look.”
She returned with a coat. I had no idea if it was it. “I think it is,” Nancy said. John nodded in agreement. “That looks like her.”
For the first time in my life I said, ‘I’ll take it” without even asking the price.
“Do you want it wrapped?” Yes.
I was pretty nervous Christmas morning. If it wasn’t the right one my wife would be very disappointed. If it was the right one, it would make her whole Christmas.
It was the right one.
Imagine this.  Go to Bon Ton or Sears, or Macy’s . Can you sit down with the owners and have a coffee? Can you say your wife saw a coat two weeks before, give a couple vague clues and have them bring it out and hand it to you gift wrapped?
Not a chance.
The Dunhams know  all their regular clientele so well that on buying trips they pick out clothes based on their customers’ tastes!
Yes, I also like the idea that I’m supporting local business and keeping money circulating in the community, contributing to it health.
But I’m also grateful to John and Nancy for making my wife’s Christmas special.  (It’s nearly impossible for a man to buy a woman clothes she actually likes.)
Dunham’s has been around for 112 years, succeeding on the premise that knowing and caring about your customers is the best kind of marketing.

Keep College President Searches Quiet

Social media has forced upon us two things:  transparency and immediacy.

This is not always good.  Especially in the area of college/university presidential searches.  I’ve mentioned in previous posts that I’ve seen a couple presidential searches over the past few years.  One  was accepted as president at a larger university.  We all knew it before he returned to campus.

Another president went through the final interview process and we knew about it as the interview took place.

This is not fair to anyone.  Trying to better one’s self is a natural flow in the career world.  If the campus knows your president is interviewing somewhere, it compromises him or her in a lot of ways.

Some would argue that at public institutions, total transparency is needed for taxpayers.

I disagree.   There are no hard figures but I have a feeling a lot of presidents do not apply for other jobs  because of this justified fear of being outed.  That’s not fair to the current institution where the fit may not be right or fair to the interviewing institution where the match might be perfect.

If it’s a public institution it’s not fair to the taxpayer — the parent — who may not be getting a president who is best for the university and its unique needs.

I don’t think this is as big a problem for provosts, deans and even development professionals.  They’re expected to search for positions at larger institution or a college presidency.

It is a problem for a sitting president searching elsewhere.  It says, for whatever reason, the president is not happy with his or her position at your university.  Morale goes down among students, faculty, staff and alumni.  Fairly or not, the president, who has been a cheerleader/fundraiser/parent/leader figure, is instantly deflated to lame duck status.

Higher education has a lot of creaky spots in its body.  This is one area that could be brought into the 21st century.  Let searches for college presidents be discrete.  Students, faculty, staff and alumni can and should be represented.

But a presidential search can be done quietly, discretely and with some class.

Public searches have no place in our instant message age.

Everyone loses.

University President: I’m Leaving Part 2

Social media was maturing six years ago when our previous president was a finalist at another college. Before he made the three-hour trip back to Mansfield after his final interview, we all knew about it.
Unfamiliar with social media, he was shocked that his private matter was very public.
When our current president, Maravene Loeschke was a finalist at a college in the south, a reporter called me at 4 p.m. to ask some questions. Her interview was being blogged in real time.
There are very few secrets anymore. And lag time has shrunk from maybe a week to a few minutes.  If you vocalize a thought, the world hears it.
That a few people at Towson and Mansfield University were able to keep President Loeschke’s candidacy a secret is admirable.  The synchronization of a   joint announcement was professional and swift.
Four local reporters asked to interview Loeschke about her time here, and then it was over.
There was a time when there were a lot of reporters. No more. The few left are  happy to use the official announcement.  Then they’re on to the next story.
A president leaves, a president is named.
Next story please.
I love Maravene Loeschke. A former actress and acting prof,  she’s  great in front of a camera, in the TV studio, excellent at improvising.  But she is a president and they come in and move on.
I and my assistant were dealing with other matters as well: an anonymous accusation that the dorms being constructed; an annual festival that is  important to the university and community; other things that are important to admissions, retention, public relations and community relations.

Within eight hours, the president story was shoved downward by other news.

Today, stories are local and universal.  Sometimes both.  There is very little in between.

But they do have one thing in common:  they flare fast, burn hot and cool quickly.

In the wired age, life goes on, just a lot faster.

***

Language peeve:  The only outlet that got Steve Jobs’ death correct was Apple, saying “Steve Jobs has died.”  Why do we persist in saying “Joe Blow dies?”  The process of dying may be long or brief, but when act is over, it’s past tense,  and so are you.  The language should reflect that.

My Blog High Ed sabbatical: life, death and a new novel

In the time that I was gone from BHE, a lot has happened.

I finally finished my second novel, One Woman’s Vengeance, which I have been working  on for about eight years.    I found, again, that writers — especially fiction writers — and technology are an unholy mix. But the publisher is very good and I’ll do another post later to detail my experiences.

Meanwhile, if you’re interested, I created a One Woman’s Vengeance blog (of course!) for it.  If you’re interested in the process of writing and publishing, check it out and subscribe or “like” the Facebook page.

I thought I knew a lot about today’s marketing,  but I’m still learning.

***

We lost our beloved German Shepherd.   Only seven years old, he developed a tumor on his heart and had two weeks to live.   I had forgotten how absolutely devastating it is to lose a dog. We grieved, then began the search for a new puppy. Anyone who has gone through this loss knows you cannot replace your dog who had its own personality and was a part of the family.
You also know you can’t live without the presence of these special beings.

***

We found a new puppy and the process of learning, joy and hope begins again.

***

We spent two weeks in Alaska. Our daughter lives in Anchorage and was the perfect hostess.   We’ve traveled a lot across the U.S., but this was one of the most memorable trips ever.

***

At work there were new marketing challenges with the chopping of budgets.  Mansfield University has the added challenge of being right in the heart  of the Marcellus Shale.  High school students are graduating and going to work for the gas companies instead of going to college.  There are no motel rooms for visitors, no houses or apartments for students, faculty or staff.  (We’ve  had VPs and staff living in residence halls).

***

While I was gone from here, life, in all its variety, and with all its surprises, joys and occasional heartbreaks, went on.

And continues to.

Thankfully.

Next post:   The world’s most famous former FBI terrorist interrogator writes his memoir, challenges the CIA, and credits his alma mater for giving him his start. 

Maybe you don’t die after all

I said in the last post that we write and exist in the moment. Things are moving  fast and there is so much other excellent content that if you stop, others move in.
You vanish.
That’s only partly true, I found.
On July 4, when every patriotic American is drinking beer, doing hot dogs and ooohing to fireworks, I received an email inviting me to do a technical review of a new book in its final draft stage.
That the woman writing to me on July 4 was impressive.  She was a dedicated professional and thoroughly unAmerican.

I went back to the invitation which read, in part: “I’ve been reading your higher ed marketing blog and believe you could be an excellent technical reviewer for our forthcoming book on WordPress Marketing. . . .”

I have a soft spot for WordPress since my three personal blogs and my professional one at Mansfield University are all on WordPress.

Then I realized I hadn’t posted anything on this site in awhile.  I went back and checked.  The last post was July 2010 of me doing a whining sign-off with a bad case of burnout!  I hadn’t posted anything in a year!

But then, this isn’t unusual.  I’ve had responses to posts that are three or more years old, as I’m sure most bloggers have.  So maybe you don’t die after hanging it up.  You just keep floating out there in some half-life state and eventually someone enters your orbit.

I accepted the invitation and over the weeks as I worked on the review, felt the urge to get back into the game.

I did some research on the publishing company and found that the lady was, indeed, not American.  She had written to me on July 4 from her office . . . in England.

***

A lot of you are bloggers.  What is the oldest post one of your readers has responded to?  One year?  Three?  Five?

I’m back. Umm, do you remember me?

Putting the blog in moratorium, then coming back held many lessons.
First, I missed the BHE community. It was, and continues to be a group of pioneers who enthusiastically explore, experiment, write and share.
The second thing I learned is that I was not missed. A few friends and colleagues  wrote on the occasion of my last blog in 2010 with helpful advice about battling burnout.
But after that . . . nothing. I didn’t take it personally. During the few years I posted I received tens of thousands of hits. But when I stopped, the audience went elsewhere. I know, in marketing, you don’t quit a project and then plan to pick it up again and regain your momentum without some struggle.
But that never bothered me. I’m in the enviable position of writing because I want to, knowing that the folks who will benefit from it will find it.
But it was a very real reminder that we’re expendable. In fact, more than ever.
Cause for panic? No. It makes me want to –more than ever– do the best I can do. To develop the best content and write in the simplest most dynamic way I can and contribute to the field.
I do this now, realizing that we are operating in the continual now. And when we’re  done, we’re dust, blowing lazily in the wind as life goes on.
In a way, everything I just said is true.
In another way, as I found out on July 4, it may be utterly false.
I’ll tell you why in the next post.