Interested in marketing academic departments

July 28, 2009

In Febuary on this blog I wrote a post about what makes a good academic department website. In that post I argued that

“Academics is one of the largest and most critical components of a college website. The department websites are at the center of that but it’s one of the sections that is hardest to manage at least at my institution.”

If you are interested in the topic Cognitive Marketing (@cogmark) a brand development marketing firm from Rochester NY presented on the topic at the Council of Independent Colleges (CIC) Workshop for Department and Division Chairs: Creative Leadership with Limited Resources in Pittsburgh, PA.

The session Attracting Entry-Level Students to the Major: The Role and Responsibility of the Department Chair, covered the recruitment marketing process, the effect of the Internet on the relationship with prospective students, the identity of the academic department, and the creation of a marketing plan for the department.

Session materials including the session handout including worksheets, and the video about the Millennial Generation’s use of Web 2.0 are available on the Cognitive blog.

April 1st – Yield season has begun where is your value?

April 1, 2009

April 1st is here and at private liberal arts colleges the admissions yield season is in full swing. Accepted students have until May 1 to make a decision and the month of April will be spent “wooing” them.

What are the things we on the web side can do to help out our institution’s enrollment efforts this year? Here are a few quick thoughts:

Feature value
At a time where the economy is uncertain parents and students will be looking for what they get for their money. Highlighting good graduation rates or retention rates as well as your career services area are critical to this effort.

Academic reputation
Students often choose the school with the best reputation. Of course you can’t change this in one month but keeping your focus on student and faculty research and academic achievement can help with this aspect during April.

Remember your brand
Strive to constantly talk about those things that really make up the core of your institution. Hopefully you have done some brand work in the last few years and can now capitalize on those key messages.

Flickr and Art: perfect together

February 27, 2009

artComing from New Jersey I had to throw out some love to our former Gov. Tom Kean for this title.

I had a really rewarding moment last week on campus that I wanted to share today. We have been experimenting with flickr for the past year as a way to put more interactive photo galleries on our site. It was been met with success and we have started to use the strategy across our top level.

I was having coffee last week with the Chair of the Visual Art Department and he had seen what we did and really liked it. As he was talking I figured we would be helping the department get a flickr account and posting things to it. But he surprised me when he showed me how they were already using it to highlight the work of several classes:

It was rewarding to see someone take something that we were doing across the “top level” of the site and use it as their own on a department site. Now how do we get that to happen more often?

What makes a good academic department website?

February 20, 2009

Boy if I knew the answer to that question I wouldn’t be writing on this blog huh. I feel like it’s the million dollar question of higher ed websites. Academics is one of the largest and most critical components of a college website. The department websites are at the center of that but it’s one of the sections that is hardest to manage at least at my institution.

At Gettysburg we are actually in the process of a major redesign of our academic department pages. With the help of our consultant Todd Bennett from decimal 152 we have been working to give departments

  • more flexibility for content depending on the department
  • Design that gives departments more of a homepage feel as opposed to the bodypage of the Gettysburg site
  • Tie the content about academic programs, requirements, and polices more closely to the catalog.

During the project we have looked at a number of different institutions varying in size and scope as examples for department sites. Until this week I had not come across a college that did academic department sites well. I happened to run across the ES department at UVA –

Of course this design and template does not carry throughout every department at UVA but I thought it was a good  model for dept sites. Clean design. Easy navigation across the top that gets their key messages across. Interesting photos and 2 “drivers” for you to meet the faculty. The news even had an RSS feed with it – which was great.

What do you think makes a good academic department website? Any others out there you would suggest looking at?

Engaging departments

September 23, 2008

I have been doing some thinking lately about how to present the academic experience at my school in unique and interesting ways. How do you highlight the student academic experience as better or more “academic” than the next school and the next school? Every school has academics as a header on their main navigation, and every school touts faculty and student research.

One way to find the differences is to actually show the unique experiences your students are having in the classroom. How do you find these, talk about them, communicate them, and show them off? Ask faculty members and departments.

This might be a scary thought – I can understand why but if you attempt to create partnerships and engage your faculty and academic departments you might find that they are interested in “playing” as I like to call it. Maybe they will do a blog, be interested in helping you with a story, or try to use technology in a different way in the classroom.

Either way engaging departments and faculty can be extremely helpful and fruitful for your web efforts.