The Digital Landscape for Student Recruitment in 2009

In March I’ll be chairing this event:

The Digital Landscape for Student Recruitment in 2009

Thursday 26th March 2009
9.30am-1.00pm (lunch included)
The Athenaeum, 116 Piccadilly, London W1

Interested? Then ponder these things in your heart: “Are you responsible for directing your institution’s student recruitment strategy? Are you looking to make the most of web 2.0 to boost your admissions?”

Have you answered yes? The next step is obvious: “join us in London for this FREE half-day seminar.”

Here’s what will happen if you do:

“Delegates will learn from HEIs and experts on the following topics:

* effective mobile campaigns;
* beyond the banner—examples on how to fully engage with potential students on UGC sites;
* tips on successful SEO;
* the latest 2009 research from The Student Room’s users (including the users’ insights on what sort of online campaigns work!); and
* a Q&A panel including representatives from HEIs, Blyk and The Student Room.”

No doubt you’re sold on it by now and will immediately want to ‘book online here‘.

I look forward to seeing you there.

It sounds great and I would probably have gone even if I wasn’t chairing it. I got quite excited about The Athenaeum as a venue – thinking it was the club in Pall Mall, and that I’d be rubbing shoulders with the shades of Ormskirk statue-man D’Israeli and other luminaries, as well as those of clubland heroes from the works of Sapper, Dornford Yates and John Buchan (assuming that fictional characters can have shades.) However this Athenaeum is a hotel in Piccadilly – which looks perfectly acceptable. (Update – it is in fact in the club – early information was misleading. I’m sure participants will get full instructions but do please niote it ISN’T in the hotel.)

A colleague Twittered that he looked forward to ‘seeing me in action’ – and I’m trying to think how action-packed my chairing can possibly be. Thinking back to my clubland fantasy, John Buchan’s Richard Hannay was certainly a man of action. Perhaps I should model my performance on his improvised political speech in The 39 Steps, depicted here (7’13” onwards).

I’ll buy a tweed suit with a hint of digital about it forthwith.

Black Sun Rising

Glancing at the webcam this morning, I saw what appeared to be a black sun rising over the Business School building (home of Criminology, Law and Management programmes.) Or perhaps a black hole has formed, somewhere over Aughton.

We have been briefed to expect a challenging year, but being sucked acrooss the event horizon into singularity would in my view be a bit much.

Fortunately the black dot is an optical illusion and cosmic catastrophe did not occur today, at least not yet. The Business School remains intact and looks very splendid:

More pics here.

Pop endorsement

Iggy Pop is the latest is celebrity advertiser, fronting a multi-media campaign for online insurer Swiftcover…

“We feel this new and unique approach reflects our positioning as a young and innovative company” says their marketing director, and seeing ‘the world’s forgotten boy’ larking around on my telly certainly got my attention. Clearly the choice is deliberately unexpected, incongruous and designed to generate PR.

Higher education has used somewhat tamer characters in its advertising, such as Patrick Stewart (Huddersfield) and John Simm (Blackpool & the Fylde). As a Chancellor and an alumnus respectively, these folks had a direct connection with the ‘product’ being promoted. It’s hard to imagine Iggy (famous for antics such as rolling around in broken glass onstage, and credited with inventing the stage dive) sorting out his finances on the internet, and the ad doesn’t depend on us believing that he is an actual customer. He’s there as a signifier of the ‘life’ we can ‘get’ if we save time by using handy online insurance: a life that could be as thrill-packed and wilfully-expressed as that of the shirtless old man bouncing around our TV screens. (Of course, the actual Pop life may not be that of the ‘Real Wild Child’ of his lyrics; he plays golf, and has a piece in an academic journal in his CV – but none of that matters, he embodies his own legend.)

Which leads me to think – are there cultural figures, not actually connected with Universities, who could embody their values

Seven Deadly New Year’s Resolutions

I have always been a fan of the Seven Deadly Sins, ever since I stayed up to watch the original Bedazzled movie, back when Christmas telly was good. So I thought it would good to devise marketing-related New Year’s Resolutions, based on the handy readymade structure of the ‘capital vices’. The idea isn’t to commit all the sins (in some spectacular orgy of Sadean libertinage); rather, it’s to figure out how to avoid them, and stay on the narrow way of goodness combined with the shining path of marketing success 😉

So what have we got to contend with? Lust, gluttony, greed, sloth, wrath, envy and pride comprise the traditional menu, with corresponding virtues: chastity, temperance etc. So let’s sort ’em out.

Lust
Tricky one this – what kind of marketing lust might we fall prey to? Dante defined it as ‘excessive love of others’ so let’s avoid promiscuously courting random people – and instead try and fill our databases, Facebook friend lists etc with genuine potential customers, with whom we can have meaningful relationships.

Gluttony
doesn’t just refer to food, though personally I do intent to follow Thomas Aquinas’ example and avoid eating ‘too much’, ‘too daintily’ or conversely ‘wildly’. Gluttony is also about waste – so our diligent value-for-money procurement, environmentally-friendly production methods and highly-targeted (or non-lustful) marketing will put us on the right side of this one.

Greed

is slightly different – a sin of excess involving the accumulation of wealth. Isn’t this what marketing people are interested in? Maybe, though in the public sector we aren’t creating profits for shareholders. We do intend to raise £1.3m in philanthropic income over the next three years. That will of course be charity – the virtue corresponding to the vice of greed – so we’ll definitely be on the side of the angels.

Sloth
can’t be good, and I’ll be fitting in some regular blood-pumping, endorphin-liberating, cholestertol-lowering exercise by walking around the campus, into town and maybe even through the woods, inspired by the Urban Walks scheme. Within the department, as well as maintaining a white-hot rate of busy-ness, we’ll be going above and beyond by working on an exciting action research project, of which more in a later post.

Wrath
can be manifested as impatience, and in a sense we’re paid to be impatient as we’re all trying to improve things; to move with speed from where we are now to where we want to be. However the Devil’s in the detail, and we need to get things right as well as forging ahead. So I’m resolving to avoid overhastiness…

Envy
played by Barry Humphries in the 1967 version of Bedazzled, is another kind of insatiable desire, wanting what others have. ‘Envious marketing’ could manifest itself as lookalike advertising, trying to resemble another institution or organisation. I’d like us to carry on being distinctive and ploughing our own furough.

Finally Pride – a difficult one as we’re often beating ourselves up for being too shy and retiring as an institution. And, yes, I’d like us to win more awards and recognition. Perhaps marketing departments are a kind of professional boasters, absorbing hubris like a medieval Sin Eater? I don’t think this is the case – as any marketing claims we make have to be based on substance. So another resolution is to focus on credibility and keep it real…