Guest post: Taglines, part 2 (from Andrea Michnik)

Today’s guest post is the second of two from Andrea Genevieve Michnik, director of marketing and enrollment with the Semester in Washington Journalism Program at George Washington University in Washington, D.C. (Here’s her first post.) Follow her on Twitter at @AndreaGenevieve or @SIWjournalism, and look for her at the upcoming EduWeb and EduComm conferences this summer.

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The project to create a new tagline for the Semester in Washington Journalism program finished last week and it’s time to share strategy, procedure and outcome.

Comments from the first post on effective higher education taglines showed skepticism as to what taglines are trying to achieve and questioned if they are necessary. For the Semester in Washington, a tagline was needed to promote the brand and differentiate it from George Washington University. This special program is a different case than most higher education institutions, because as a relatively new program, it looks to gain both credibility and increase general brand awareness. Certain keywords were sought to connect the experience of the program to prospective students in new 2009-2010 promotional materials.

As predicted, a small simple survey of current and alumni students showed the program tagline from 2008 was lengthy, ineffective and generic. In fact, only one student could remember a few of the keywords from the phrase shown below.

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*2008 tagline (click to enlarge)

In order to find what words would best fit in a new tagline, alumni students were asked via email what 3 keywords they felt best described their experience. (Only alumni were surveyed.)

Gathering the list of 14 out of 44 possible responses, the top words were given to the SIWJ program Director and then made final decisions as to what keyword would be used to create the possible taglines. In addition to the student opinions, it was also important to keep in mind the following elements:

  • The GWU official tagline “The GW Experience”
  • Washington DC location
  • Semester time frame (as opposed to a 4-year institution)
  • Internship element

Using the top keywords of Experience, Discover, Real-World, Explore, the following is a list of six tagline choices generated from survey results:

1. Explore The Real World

2. Experience Your Destiny

3. Spend a Semester, Discover Your Dream

4. You Just Have To Experience It

5. Discover Yourself in DC

6. Experience Opportunity in Washington DC

A small focus group tested these options using an electronic poll from polldaddy. The poll was sent via email to current and alumni students and the @siwjournalism twitter account also posted the poll for followers to contribute their opinions. (Twitter followers of @siwjournalism include journalism professors from across the USA, prospective students, current students, alumni and other journalism/communication departments within higher education institutions.)

The poll was posted on Twitter twice within a 2-week period, resulting in a total of thirty-nine respondents voting. Based on the electronic poll, option 4, Discover Yourself in DC, was chosen as the most popular tagline for the Semester in Washington Journalism Program.

After careful consideration by the Marketing Department and the Program Director for SIWJ, tagline number 4 was chosen as the official new tagline for 2009-2010 publicity and promotion. Discover Yourself in DC will be used on the new program website launching in fall 2009 and its new Facebook Pages site currently under construction. New print and digital marketing materials will also incorporate this phrase, the first of which are strategic Facebook advertisements running the course of June and July.

In three months, another focus group and online survey will help measure consistency of the message and determine if the tagline is resonating well with both prospective and alumni students. I hope to report results at that time invite readers to take a look at our new digital profiles once they launch this fall.

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Author: andrewcareaga

Higher ed PR and marketing guy. Communications director for Missouri University of Science and Technology (Missouri S&T) in Rolla, Missouri, USA. Slow runner, mediocre guitarist, lover of music and puns, and an avid St. Louis Cardinals fan. I blog and Tweet about #highered, #music, #gocards and #random stuff.

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