Three reasons higher ed can win at content marketing

I spent some time on the campus of a local university yesterday talking about marketing and communications. A good hunk of my career has been spent on campus or in higher education organizations. There’s a lot of great things about working in higher ed – the energy of a college campus is amazing, and working with young people starting out in their careers is always a joy. What can be annoying is the slow pace of some higher ed professionals compared with those in the higher sector. But one area higher ed is winning is content marketing- here are three reasons why:

An alumni or university magazine is, essentially, a content marketing piece. That content needs to live beyond the 36 pages/3 times a year the magazine appears. Come back to that content to feed social media updates, development materials and recruitment pieces. Here’s how this could play out: Let’s say you write a great feature about a graduate who has gone on to be a successful actress in Hollywood. A year after the feature appears the actress gets another leading role in a TV show. If you’ve got a savvy social media strategy with an “always on” mindset, this news needs to be shared through all social media channels, but link back to the original story for context and background. An abbreviated version of the story can add some credibility to recruitment materials, and I think the fact that your fine arts program turned out a successful actress is darned sight more compelling than the usual “letter from the dean” asking for money.

The second way higher ed can win is to leverage students on campus to help produce the content. Journalism/PR students would love the chance to get a work sample, so why not assign some feature content to them? Student blogs are also a great opportunity to engage students and develop authentic content from enthusiastic undergrads.

Finally, I think universities and other higher education organizations can leverage the content already being produced by professors around campus to build a robust, compelling content calendar. I’m not suggesting colleges post the 200 page dissertation Dr. Smith did on the mating habits of the fruit fly, but if there are some fun bits of information that can be shared based on the paper. It means your marketing people or editors have to be plugged in to the academics around campus, but they already are, aren’t they?

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