The late spring and early summer months see campuses being emptied of students and academic staff as formal teaching ends. Meanwhile, assessment work and research periods ramp up. Though a visual survey might render this period as one of diminished activity, in reality, this is when both students and academic staff are doing important work. If savvy enough, marketing departments can harness this period of increased creativity to best pinpoint and sell their institution’s brand in tandem with summer recruitment activities to ensure student enrolments come autumn, and an increased institutional reputation in the long term.
Members of academic staff travel around the world to get stuck into research activities, deliver keynote addresses and sit on conference panels. Extra end-of-year funds could be funnelled to encourage and enable these activities, which can then be used to lift the research profile of the institution: a big draw for prospective students. Ensure teams know where their academics are researching, studying and visiting and capitalise upon this work to show what your staff (and your brand) do best. Use this knowledge centrally to create social media campaigns that go beyond the generic: these exciting career milestones for members of academic staff can boost your reach and engagement with other academics worldwide. Additionally, gather data to target advertisements to prospective students in areas where lectures are taking place: can they sit in on the panel in their home city or country? One more prospective student then gets a taste and feel for your institution.
Current students are busy writing publishable material and preparing for creative, groundbreaking degree shows. Instead of blindly signing over any surplus budget toward additional online advertising that doesn’t tell your audience anything new about the institution, explore how this money can help create engaging digital assets that really stand out. Tap into the work current students are doing to show prospective students what they will really undertake during their studies. Ask your students if you can not only promote their work but the university itself through specialised social media posts using these assets. Gather these new resources for your socials and refreshed website features, if so. Again – look at what’s happening under the hood to best understand the innate talent within the institution, and use this as your brand’s selling point.