By Jeremy Tiers, Director of Admissions Services
2 minute read
Prior to the 2018 NCAA men’s basketball tournament, you had probably never heard of Sister Jean Dolores-Schmidt unless you worked at Loyola University Chicago. That all changed in a matter of weeks when 11-seed Loyola made a magical run all the way to the Final Four.
The then 98-year-old chaplain became an instant celebrity because of her spirit, passion, and pre-game pep talks and prayers. The National Bobblehead Hall of Fame and Museum even produced a bobblehead of her that up until this past April was their best seller of all time. Fun fact, that honor is now held by Dr. Anthony Fauci.
Fast forward three years, and Sister Jean is back in the national spotlight. She’s here in Indianapolis for this year’s tournament, and when she’s not cheering on the Ramblers (who just took down #1 seed Illinois over the weekend), the 101-year-old is taking socially distanced selfies with fans of all ages.
Sister Jean is an important reminder of the people behind a college’s brand. In fact, I would argue that your people (including you) are your school’s brand. That list also includes your President, current students, faculty, other staff across campus, as well as your alumni.
Remember, people connect with, are influenced by, and take action because of other people, not taglines or facts and figures.
Your people strategy needs to be a significant piece of your communications puzzle as you connect with prospective students, parents, and families at all stages of the college search process. You need to pull back the curtain and humanize your brand.
Showcasing the different people behind your institution can help you cultivate better and deeper relationships with students who are debating taking that next big step such as applying, visiting campus, or picking your school over their other choices. It can also help students overcome different fears, including fear of the unknown.
I encourage you to think about taking the following actions:
- Who can you highlight right now in your email and social media campaigns as a way to help, for example, admitted students understand why your current students were so confident about their decision to attend your school? Or, how they broke a tie in favor of your school when they made their college decision. Or, what helped them know that they just had to apply to your school.
- Reach out to recent alums and get them to share feedback about one person on your campus who was instrumental in helping them get to graduation day and achieve some of the goals they set.
- Student panels as part of an admitted student day event are great, but you should also consider parent panels. Have the parents of a few current freshmen students talk about what gave them the confidence that your school would be a good fit for their son or daughter.
- What are some examples of your school’s mission and core values that you can share?
- What events and activities this spring can you document and then share on social media and your school’s website?
- Get rid of your viewbook and create a storybook that highlights one person per page and shares one or more parts of their unique story and journey.
A big key as you tell each person’s story is to be genuine. Worry less about being fancy and perfectly produced, and focus more on being authentic and having it create emotions. That’s what this generation wants and needs from you.
And don’t forget the importance of making your content relatable and personal. You can have different groups of students make the same core point, but, as an example, a first generation student will resonate more with the viewpoint of another first generation student.
If you’ve got a question or comment about this article, just hit reply or click here.
And if you found this article helpful, I encourage you to forward it on to someone else on your campus who you think might also benefit from reading it.