Conference Notes on Changing Times

The College and University Public Relations Association of PA (CUPRAP) conference this year drew 159 PR/marketing/Web folks from four states. Here are some observations that may be a snapshot of higher ed marketing in general.


-For years, CUPRAP was composed primarily of middle aged white males. The last few years it’s almost evenly males and females.

– This year the majority were in their 20s and 30s. Only a handful were in their 50s and 60s.

-Ninety-eight percent were white.

-No one besides me is podcasting.

-No one, including me, twitters.

-A couple folks are producing and posting videos.

-The PR people in decision-making positions are still trying to figure out how to convince the administration that a mention in The New York Times is losing relevance and importance.

-Nearly everyone is familiar with Web 2.0. Most have not done much with it because they’re still tied up with producing print publications, writing traditional media news releases and stomping out the usual little fires.

-I was the only attendee with a digital audio recorder. I recorded three presenters.

-I was the only one there with a camcorder. I recorded an awards ceremony.

-I took my still camera but never pulled it from my hardware bag.



PR people are struggling to keep up with the huge changes in communications. They are still pressured produce home town releases, Dean’s Lists, check passing pictures, etc.

-Publications people are feeling more secure than they did a few years ago.

-Web folks are tired and excited.

-PR and Web people are working more closely with each other. Web folks welcome the more user friendly Content Management Systems which enable them to turn content responsibilities over to departments, freeing them up to experiment and explore. And this is a very good thing.

-PR folks need to move more quickly into the Web 2.0 phase because time and change are moving faster.

-Administrations, trustees and others need to be educated on the importance of the new media. Newspapers are still important, but in a different way. Our brand is reinforced not by a mention in The Chronicle but by our Google rankings, Facebook, Del.ic.ious, blogs, videos, etc.

-Not all conversations are produced by us, but by an increasingly active world around us. A growing audience of students, parents, alumni and others are contributing to the definition of who we are.

Note: If I’m off on any of this, let me know.


7 responses to “Conference Notes on Changing Times

  1. Looks like an accurate snapshot. While the lack of innovation in higher ed marketing may seem depressing, I see it as an opportunity for those that embrace the Web to really shine.

  2. Dennis,
    You mentioned that your the only one podcasting. I guess my reaction is why podcast when you can youtube (I just wrote a new definition for that word)? I guess there are things like video podcasts, but with the DRM free movement iTunes is losing it’s dominance and with video embeds you can embed a video from youtube or a number of other services on pages throughout the web.

    We were podcasting last year until I looked at the statistics of who was following and they were nonexistent. How is your podcasting following? Do you have a good many of subscribers, do you track that? I guess if you have a strong following than it’s definitely just worth continuing. Just curious.

  3. tsand, I completely agree with you. It actually takes energy and commitment because a lot of experimental stuff is done on our own time. But I’m not complaining. The innovators seem to be a happy bunch.
    Kyle, You have a good point, as usual. When our new CMS is live, we’ll be doing more “youtubing” (and if that word takes off, I give you full credit). We do have a good sized podcast audience of probably around 4,000 people around the world. Again, when we have better tracking in the next couple months, I’ll have more accurate stats. Podcasting doesn’t have the glow it did a couple years ago, but I still think it’s a viable medium if one has the time and inclination to invest. Thanks for your thoughts. You’ve inspired another blog post down the road.
    Oh, I finally got the logo posted!

  4. Pingback: Loads of links: March 13, 2008 | higher ed marketing

  5. 4,000 followers on a podcast. Wow! Yeah you definitely can’t kill that off. One thing you might explore is expanding it into a video podcast, do you do this already? With a video podcast you could syndicate it to youtube and other sites to expand your audience. Just continue what your doing but sharing it with other audiences.

    How do I get to this podcast? What is it called on iTunes?

  6. Yes, I plan on a video podcast this semester. In fact, I’m working on a few ideas. I also checked out your most recent video. Very cool.
    Oh, the podcast address is just
    I think on iTunes it’s the Mansfield University Podcast.
    Listen to a few shows and let me know what you think. There’s quite a large variety of shows. I’d love your opinion.

  7. Kyle, I forgot to mention that we have tried some different things with videos ranging from really basic to more professional. They’re on YouTube under Mansfield University.

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