Although our blogs clearly show that we are biased in favor of data, we also know how critical stories are to marketing, recruiting, retention, and alumni relations. Yet most institutions aren’t very deliberate about capturing and sharing fresh stories. As you prepare for summer training for recruiters and orientation leaders, here are some strategies we have seen work for collecting compelling anecdotes:
- Run a contest. Saint Bonaventure recently asked incoming students to submit a short video about why they chose SBU. Not only was it a way to keep new students engaged, but now they have posted the top contenders on YouTube. You could do the same thing with current students, with faculty, with alumni, etc.
- Stay in touch with current students (e.g. your student workers) to find out what interesting projects they or their friends are working on. Also, feature students heavily on the web (e.g., through rotating videos featuring tour guides; through student blogs; etc.). Essentially, this approach allows students to tell their own stories. And families especially like meeting the students they have read about on the web when they come to visit campus.
- Assign recruiters as liaisons to academic departments. Although most admissions offices still organize their recruiters by geographic territories that should not preclude you from also assigning academic program responsibilities. These liaisons would be expected to meet regularly with faculty in their assigned departments to just get them to talk about exciting student projects; external recognition the department has received; etc.
- Get on your public relations’ mailing list. Many schools have marketing and PR departments that are in the business of gathering stories for press releases, the alumni magazine, and other venues, but those stories aren’t routinely shared with admissions.
- Have regular meetings with key administrators likely to have good stories. Suggestions would include the internship coordinator; the director of career services; the director of the honors program; the vice president for student affairs; and others with extensive contact with students.
- Create vehicles to share stories between recruiters (and others). Make sure that as great stories emerge staff members are trained to share those stories with others who could use them. One vehicle to consider would be an internal Wiki site which would allow multiple users to update it and would be searchable.
How is your institution sharing its student stories?
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About the author: Vice President Kathy Kurz's special area of expertise is in developing strategic financial aid and retention programs, designed to enhance enrollment and net tuition revenue results. A former Associate Vice President at the University of Rochester and Director of Financial Aid at Earlham College, she pays special attention to ensuring that the solutions recommended are practical, detailed, and implementable.
Kathy contributes regularly to University Business, authored a chapter entitled The Changing Role of Financial Aid and Enrollment Management in New Directions for Student Services, a Jossey-Bass publication, and speaks at national conferences and seminars such as NACUBO, Academic Impressions, and CIC.
Connect with Kathy on LinkedIn.