Social media looks like a winning weapon against stereotypes

Twenty-seven female engineers at Tesla are among those who have picked up on the #ILookLikeAnEngiineer hashtag

Twenty-seven female engineers at Tesla are among those who have picked up on the #ILookLikeAnEngiineer hashtag

First there was #ILookLikeAnEngineer — a hashtag launched nearly two weeks ago in response to a call to action by San Francisco-area engineer Isis Anchalee. Anchalee took to Medium to talk about how her appearance in a recruitment ad for her employer generated responses along the line of, “You don’t look like an engineer” — because she’s not male and not white. Continue reading

Friday Five: The state of #highered marketing

{30ce7300-01ea-4921-ad65-925927d08273}_CMO_LandingPage_header_v2_(2)On Thursday I received an email from The Chronicle of Higher Education inviting me to download a report about the state of marketing in higher education. An early version of the report — titled “Higher Ed Marketing Comes of Age: Data and Insights from College Marketing Leaders” — was shared last November during the American Marketing Association‘s Symposium on Higher Education. I was anxious to delve into the findings then, as Jason Simon of SimpsonScarborough, which partnered with the Chronicle to conduct the research, gave participants of a salon for chief marketing officers (CMOs) a sneak preview. Many of us in the room had taken part in the survey as well.

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Facebook: The next big place for brand videos?

FacebookLikeAccording to a recent study by Socialbakers, video posts on Facebook now have the greatest reach of all types of posts. (And photos, once considered the best way to reach audiences on that social media platform, are eating video’s dust.)

So if you’re already annoyed by the number of videos cropping up in your Facebook timeline, brace yourselves. More video is coming. And marketers, obedient lemmings that we are, will quickly run to Facebook as the platform for sharing video.

What does this mean for YouTube?

Despite Facebook’s recent claim that it is the platform where the majority of videos are shared, this post makes a good argument in favor of YouTube reigning supreme in the online video world for some time to come. YouTube is the No. 2 search engine (after Google), its videos can be shared across many social platforms and it gives video uploaders a cut of ad revenue — all proof that YouTube is not dead yet.

Still, it will be interesting to see how the rise of video on Facebook will challenge YouTube and other more established platforms.

How is your organization using Facebook for video?

Facebook “like” image via PRDaily

A refreshing take on the work we do

Steve Virtue (@SteveVirtue) — who once upon a time worked in our world of higher education marketing — recently pointed me to a nicely done article about the PR business in higher ed. It’s a brief op-ed by Léo Charbonneau, the deputy editor of University Affairs, titled Spare a thought for university communications offices.

It’s a refreshing look at the work we do in higher ed marketing and PR, and I’m glad that Mr. Charbonneau took the time to spare some words about us. He points out how the PR problems we face can be “silly or just irksome” — and shares some examples of both. He points out that the job is becoming more complex, thanks to social media and myriad stakeholders, and how it can be a frustrating job due to “competing interests and the diffuse structure of [a university’s] governance.” But his conclusion — that all in all, higher ed PR is a pretty good gig — rings true to me.

Charbonneau’s thoughts focus mainly on the public relations side of our business — probably because, as a journalist, he’s dealing with our institutions’ media relations officers more than marketing managers or graphic designers. Still, I suspect that some of his key points hit home with other disciplines that find themselves as part of the higher ed marketing/communications enterprise amalgam — photographers, writers and editors, graphic designers, user interface designers, videographers, and so on.

His conclusion certainly hits home with me.

In my experience, there have been some very good, and some very bad, university communications departments. At one university that shall remain nameless, the constantly revolving staff was legendary and their default attitude towards the media was always suspicious. At others, there are familiar names who have been there for many years unfailingly doing their best to attend to the media’s requests.

Earlier this week, I began my 25th year in this business, all at the same university. And while some days on the job make me crazier than others, I still love this gig and hope I will for years to come.

2015: the new ’90s?


Salt-N-Pepa are pushin' Geico. They're pushin' Geico real good.

Salt-N-Pepa are pushin’ Geico. They’re pushin’ Geico real good.

Welcome to the Internet of 2015. Which, according to this recent post from The Verge, looks a lot like the Internet of the 1990s.

Writes Verge’s Nilay Patel (@reckless):

2015 will be defined by the Revenge of ’90s Internet: media and tech giants flirting with each other, dominant players throwing their weight around, and portals, portals everywhere.

Google is the new Microsoft, Patel writes. Facebook is the new AOL (“pitching itself to media companies as their savior, just as AOL once did”). Buzzfeed is the new Yahoo, and Apple is the new Sony (which was “a hardware juggernaut in the ’90s,” as Apple has become).

It’s an interesting read, even if Patel did overlook some of my favorite 1990s Internet services with his “_____ is the new ______” analysis. (What’s the new Netscape, for example? What about Prodigy, AIM or Usenet?) It’s also a cautionary tale, as Patel notes that the ’90s were “a decade of excess and mistakes and excessive mistakes” which led to the dot-com crash of the early 2000s, “the memories of which continue to shape the industry today.”

Let’s hope we learn from the mistakes and excesses of the ’90s — not only in the tech world but also in marketing.

Remember all those AOL CDs that landed in our mailboxes? Each week, it seemed, the number of free hours offered kept climbing in a sort of hyperinflation that rendered the service as worthless to consumers, except as miniature Frisbees and drink coasters.


What can we in the higher ed marketing realm learn from the ’90s?

Unfortunately, in some ways, our marketing practices haven’t changed much since the days of Salt-N-Pepa, who are now shilling for Geico in a TV ad practically everyone on the planet has seen by now. So we have no “retro” to fall back upon.

In many ways, we continue to operate like the AOL of the 1990s. So if 2015 truly is the new 1990s, we’re ready.