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Future of Communications in Higher Education — It’s all about Influence

I’ve written about this before, but wanted to share the updated presentation I made to the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE) last week in Savannah.  Had a great group of about 60 people from as far away as Australia and Bermuda.  Great discussions followed.  More to come.  CASEFutureComm

Trends that affect us all

•Accountability to our various publics

•Challenge from the competition

•The rise of a new breed of Chancellor

•Changing role of communications


•With increased competition for funding and the need to justify our contribution or value to all of our stakeholders; communications will have to lead message development and delivery

–Different messages for different groups

•Parents, students, civic leaders, business leaders, etc.

•How does giving help?

Challenges from the competition

•Public & Private institutions

–Differentiate or die

•Point(s) of differentiation

•For profit organizations

–Driven by the bottom line


•Kaplan’s “I’ve failed you campaign”

–$20 million in marketing last quarter

•University of Phoenix Stadium

–$60 million/10 year sponsorship

$250 million last quarter!!!!!

A new breed of chancellor


–Openly & consistently articulates a clear vision for the institution

•Role model

–Management by example

•An Advocate

–Champion for the institution

Champion for advancement

•Business approach to running the institution

–Internal communications challenges

–External communications challenges

•Media savvy

–They recognize the power of the press (and the changes) and want to capitalize

–They represent the values, purpose, and the integrity of the institution to key constituencies


–A different kind of support

•Financial & Human capital

The Changing Role of Communications

•As a Counselor to the Chancellor and the university

–Protect and enhance the reputation of the institution

•Facilitate two-way communication with those who are key to your success

•Help establish the Strategic direction

–Communications planning across boundaries

Ability to generate bipartisan support for the plan

•Disseminate the Chancellor’s vision and enlist advocates in its implementation

•Engage the campus community in the communications and marketing effort

•Create the “dialogue” for long-term communications

Can we Talk?

•One voice, one message

•The dialogue

–Long term discussion starting at Point A and ending at Point Z

–Planned out in the beginning.

•Today I know what I’m going to say six months from now, 12 months from now, 5 years from now

–Interactive communications – between you and me – is what differentiates good communications from great communications

The Fundamentals

•The tools


•Print & Broadcast media/publications

–The Web

–Social Media

•Facebook, Blogs, Twitter and tweets

The Power of the Web

•Appx. 70,000 people a day visit either



•More than 25.5 million a year are making the choice to visit one of our sites and seek out news & information about NC State University

–60% of those visitors are from outside NC State University (15.3 million)

•Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Foursquare, more

Social Networking

•82% increase in time spent on social networking sites over the past year.

•Sites like MySpace, Facebook and others are where prospective and current students, alumni, donors, etc. gather

•206.9 million unique visitors to Facebook in Dec. 2009


•90% of full-time U.S. college students are members

–97% at NC State

–45,000 on NC State network

•Two-thirds visit daily

•300 million active users


•twitter.com had about 5 million site visits in December 2008

•23 million in December 2009

•75 million users (17% twittered last month)

Blogs and higher education

•They’re everywhere

•Admission, alumni, students, faculty all have blogs on sites out there

•Millions of “citizen journalists”

–Blogs (189 million around the world)

Its all about influence!

•Influence is directly related to your following

–Your following is your audience

•Massive influence online translates to massive influence off-line

•The goal is to become your own media channel, your own network

–Today’s student/institution has started building his or her online network

–Where will you/they be in 5 – 10 – 20 years

Questions to ask yourself about social networking

•Are you ready to make the commitment?

–It  takes time and hard work to make it happen

•Do you really want interaction and more transparency?

–And does your boss?

•The entry costs are low – but the cost of not following through can be great.


Passion Rules!

1 of Many

1 comment

1 Bob Brock { 04.28.10 at 3:11 pm }

Sorry I missed your preso in GA, but I can tell from these notes that I agree with many of your observations. Our work leads me to the conclusion that universities must begin to question many foundational assumptions we’ve been operating on for many years.

We’ve noticed how very very good the for-profit sector is becoming in presenting differentiated quality-based brands, and it’s obviously having a big impact on consumers.

Also seems that a number of independent non-profits are way ahead of publics in doing this: we’re working with several private institutions that are being very successful in competing with the for-profits using the very techniques you describe.

Well done!

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