Recruiting the MySpace generation

Heather Hollingsworth of the Associated Press recently wrote about how schools like the University of Missouri-Columbia, North Dakota State University and Calvin College are using blogs and online journals to help them recruit prospective students. The story succinctly addresses why so many college administrators fear the power of the blog.

“Providing students a less edited view of campus life creates challenges for school officials worried that typos or inappropriate material might harm the school’s image.”

It’s all about the loss of control. And we marketers love to be in control, don’t we.

The story also quotes Michael Stoner, a consultant who works with colleges and universities to improve their electronic communications. Stoner says the risk is worth it. “Enrollment managers and admissions people have had to get used to the fact that they are going to give up some of the control and give it to 17- and 18-year-olds.”


L.A. Times suspends Pulitzer winner’s blog

The Los Angeles Times has suspended the blog of Pulitzer Prize-winning Michael Hiltzik “after discovering that the author used an alias to post material at Web sites operated by the Times and others, which is a breach of the Times’ ethical policies.” Hiltzik’s blog, Golden State, now carries this brief notice from the editors:

The Times has suspended Michael Hiltzik’s Golden State blog on Hiltzik admitted Thursday that he posted items on the paper’s website, and on other websites, under names other than his own. That is a violation of The Times ethics guidelines, which requires editors and reporters to identify themselves when dealing with the public. The policy applies to both the print and online editions of the newspaper. The Times is investigating the postings.

Via eWeek.

HigherEdBlogCon: April 3-7

HigherEdBlogCon 2006, a weeklong online conference, got under way today with two virtual presentations about podcasting in the classroom:

This virtual conference is geared mainly toward the academics interesting in Web 2.0 apps in the classroom. But a couple of sessions look promising for higher ed PR/marketing folks. The Tuesday, April 4, case study on how integrating blogs and Blackboard can improve a PR course (not yet posted), might be worth tuning in for.

Four out of five marketing execs agree…

…that TV advertising just ain’t what is used to be.

In fact, it ain’t even what it used to be two years ago.

From the Associated Press (via CBS):

Nearly four in five marketers surveyed believe that television advertising is less effective than it was just two years ago, according to a study released Wednesday.

That’s bad news for a nervous TV industry, which is worried about what the growth in digital video recorder usage and video on demand will mean for the economic underpinnings of the business.

TV executives are still pushing their medium as the most effective way to reach eyeballs. “[B]ut national advertisers aren’t buying it and are seeking alternatives to enhance their budgets and move them beyond the customary 30-second spot,” said Josh Bernoff, vice president of Forrester research, which conducted the survey.

Almost 70 percent of advertisers say they believe that DVRs and video on demand will reduce or destroy the effectiveness of traditional 30-second commercials, the survey found. …

Close to 60 percent of the advertisers say they will spend less on conventional TV advertising when DVRs spread to 30 million homes, the survey said. Forrester estimates DVRs are now in about 10 million homes and will be in 30 million within three years.

Advertisers are looking at other approaches, such as product placement, program sponsorship, interactive ads within programs and online video ads.

Battleground U

A recent USA Today article discusses the changing nature of the nation’s major universities as they continue to morph into businesslike entities. The article, “Are campuses becoming battlegrounds?” by Jim Hopkins, says the new academic environment pits “traditionally powerful professors against a new generation of business-savvy presidents hired to control costs, boost research and make classes more relevant in a global economy.”

Last month’s resignation of Harvard President Larry Summers after a faculty mutiny is adding fuel to the simmering tensions, and could slow long-sought reforms in higher education across the USA.”

Pressure on presidents is rising: Tuition, room and board jumped 67% in the past decade. Competition for donations and federal funding is brutal. Trustees want schools to help economies grow.

“It’s the toughest job I’ve ever seen,” says James Hardymon, head of the University of Kentucky’s board of trustees and former CEO of conglomerate Textron.

The article cites Kentucky as a case study of these changes. There, President Lee Todd “was given a mandate to boost the school’s standing,” USA Today notes. “Goals in the next 14 years include adding 625 faculty and more than doubling research spending, to $768 million a year. Lawmakers and trustees expect Todd to use his business experience to reach these goals.”

Todd knows university life demands a different approach. In business, he says, communication was “vitally” important, but could be focused on three constituents: investors, customers and employees. In academia, he juggles donors, faculty, staff, students, parents, alumni, athletics fans, community leaders and lawmakers.

As one academic quoted in the story noted, the balance of power has shifted from a faculty-centric entity to a business enterprise.

Blogging and PR

PR blogger Robert French points out that the Florida PR association is hosting a blog week next month to promote the value of blogging to PR practitioners. Brilliant idea — and one that French himself has been involved in on a more global scale through Global PR Blog Week.

Alas, such events are rare indeed. So are PR organizations that use blogs as a means of connecting their members. As French points out, the FPRA is one of the few statewide public relations organizations with a blog. My own professional organization, the Council for the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE), is still groping with this whole blogging thing, and precious few folks in academic PR or marketing are communicating through the blogosphere.

I’d love to see more PR practitioners blogging. What’s holding us back?

A journalist’s ‘white-knuckle ride’ into the blogosphere

As more newspapers shift into the world of blogging, the journalists and editors trained to do journalism the old way are having to unlearn what they know and take a new approach to gathering and sharing the news. Jeff Jarvis of BuzzMachine points to one such old-school journalist having to learn new tricks: Georgina Henry, editor of the UK Guardian‘s new blog, Comment Is Free. (Jarvis is also one of several regular contributors to the blog.)

Henry says her first week on the blog beat was “like riding a bucking bronco when you’ve never been on a horse before.” After so many years of doing news the traditional way, it’s tough to throw our brains in reverse. (I feel her pain. I’m doing traditional PR half the time and blog PR as well, and those PR/journalism lines continue to blur, too.)

Henry elaborates:

Many of the conventions ingrained by 16 years as an editor on the print version of the Guardian have been turned on their head. Instead of rejecting all but a tiny number of pieces from those offered every day from writers outside and inside the building – the excuse frequently being lack of space – we’ve invited several hundred people to blog as and when they want on any subject they choose and at any length. Instead of tight copy-editing – back and forth to writers, asking them to elaborate arguments, change introductions, and cut copy to fit – we’re checking mainly just for libel. Some would say that not being forced to make choices and unlimited space sounds like easier editing. So why has it felt like such a white-knuckle ride?

It’s due in part to “[t]he randomness, that sense of never quite knowing who’s going to post when and what,” she writes. That randomness “is both the joy of the new site and slightly scary. It’s the lack of control you feel you have at times – and control, I realise, is the one of the hardest things for editors to cede.”

Is it control that she is ceding, or is it the illusion of control? I believe it is the latter, but whichever it is, Ms. Henry, I hope you enjoy the ride.