Friday Five: Cap and gown edition

Commencement season is upon us, and in the higher ed world, it’s already off to a heated start. Earlier this week, students at Bethune-Cookman University booed and turned their backs to Education Secretary Betsy DeVos as she began her speech to the class of 2017 there. More protests are expected when President Trump steps up to the podium at Liberty University’s commencement Saturday.

While one observer described the DeVos appearance at Bethune-Cookman as a brilliant marketing tactic for the historically black institution, there are other ways to leverage graduation ceremonies for visibility purposes. Here are five ideas:

  1. Commencement speakers are marketing tools. That’s the idea behind this essay in The Atlantic. The more well-known your commencement speaker, the greater the attention to your institution on graduation day. “The commencement speaker is a brand extension, whether or not the university intends it to be.” So as you choose speakers, choose wisely. Because many of them also bring a political ideology along, and “selecting a commencement speaker has become a public statement even for supposedly apolitical campuses today.”
  2. 7 last-minute ways to market your school’s commencement on social media. Yes, there’s the now-obligatory commencement hashtag (ours is #GoMiners2017), and this article plops that tactic right at the top of the list. But don’t discount some other fairly simple approaches that can help maximize visibility for your institution and instill pride in your newly minted graduates on their big day.
  3. Marketing quick tips for commencement season. It might be too late to implement some of these ideas, but there’s always next year.
  4. Hold a contest. That’s what the University of Utah is doing this year.
  5. The commencement of the future. Finally, I want to share fellow higher ed blogger Tim Nekritz’ thoughtful post about the future of commencement. Will graduation ceremonies for the class of 2117 look at all like the class of 2017’s?

Photo via McConnell Marketing.

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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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