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Storytelling Your Way Out of Factland: Advice for College and University Communications

July 31, 2018
6 months, 2 weeks ago

Toto, this isn’t Kansas anymore. And that’s a good thing. The higher education landscape has changed drastically over the years—not just in the way a university should approach recruitment strategy and digital marketing efforts, but in the way it tells its story to the market.

Traditional university communications operations placed maximum value on information accuracy and credibility over story. Events and innovations across campus were approached with a news-oriented mindset, intentionally told in a journalistic style. Communications departments would find a story, jot it down, and relay carefully crafted facts across web and paper.

However, as reputation performance and societal norms demand ever more personal communications, many institutional marketing operations have elected a story-driven content strategy to meet market expectations with better results. Included in this strategy is a greater focus on the consistent and authentic projection of mission, vision, values, and personality and elevating any and all facts to this greater story.

So, what would it look like for your institution to project a personality?

First, know your “who” and “why” before “what”

Who are you? Who can you become? What do “they” believe about you? And why do you exist? At Carnegie Dartlet, we believe the whole of your stakeholders must be engaged to answer these crucial questions.

Second, crystallize your narrative into words

Let this become your messaging playbook upon which all subsequent communications are built. Use every opportunity to tell “who” you are beyond just the facts or the “what” that you do. Any university can boast study abroad programs, a long list of majors, internships, and career centers. But no one can claim your authentic story—that is, what makes you you, whether that be your curious sense of adventure, gritty tenacity, visionary pursuit of innovation, ability to inspire leaders, or classic poise.

Know thyself. Your institution is genetically wired unlike any other institution. This unique DNA should drive all communications. Only when you and your consumers know the psychographics of your organization can you make meaningful and intelligent connections. This is the really big idea that is changing the marketing game. This is the key to change.

We can help your institution find its personality. Contact us to learn more.

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