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As branding initiatives in higher education have emerged and evolved over the past two decades, the media-outreach segments of the plans often continue to miss the mark. The reason? The campus professionals who are responsible for strategic communication are often relegated to a back-seat role in the process, or are left in the dark until the branding campaign is ready to be rolled out.


A DEFINITION OF STRATEGY that centers around the idea of “more”—we will serve more students, offer more programs, and be in more places—is highly likely to fail. Dollars are finite, so doing more will actually decrease quality because tight resources are spread even more thinly.

When I applied to colleges 40 years ago, I wrote letters to six schools and received a view book from each with a friendly cover letter, an invitation to visit the campus, an application, and a pointer to an alum or two who would be glad to sit down with me and discuss my future.


ONLY A FEW YEARS AGO, all of the higher education media were published weekly, monthly, or quarterly. Many, such as University Business, Change, Education Week, and various newsletters and magazines published by higher education associations and consulting firms, still are available on a periodic basis in printed form.


FOR MANY FAMILIES GOING through the college search and selection process, there may be a big difference between the ability to pay college expenses versus the willingness to pay.


THREE QUESTIONS HAVE BEEN MAKING the rounds at the marketing conferences this year, as more and more schools are trying to get a better handle on their marketing expenditures:

1. How much does marketing cost?

2. Is marketing worth the money?

3. How can we increase the effectiveness of our marketing?