Our ‘Innovation and Data in Postgraduate Student Recruitment and Marketing’ event took place on Tuesday 16th May 2017 in Sheffield Town Hall. The event featured a number of sessions from leading professionals in the Higher Education marketing sector, as well as opportunities for discussion with colleagues, interactive sessions and a panel discussion.
This event was for those accountable for delivering marketing and recruitment communication strategy, right through to those who are working operationally to attract prospective postgraduate students in an ever-changing marketplace.
Please note that this event has taken place. To view a conference report, click here. Or, if you’d like to be the first to find out about the next FindAUniversity Marketing Conference, or have a particular topic you’d like to see being discussed, please contact our dedicated Events team by email: [email protected].
|09:45||Registration opens & refreshments|
“Building engaging HE brands”
Simon Pride, Director of Marketing and Communications at Harper Adams University, & Mike Bond, Strategic Director and Founder of Bond and Coyne.
“Building confidence and inspiring UG to PG progression”
Chris Brady, Postgraduate Marketing Manager at Leeds Beckett University.
“The Power of Data - using data to drive student recruitment and retention”
Jonah Duffin, Director of External Relations at Birkbeck, University of London & Ed Layt, Education Marketing Specialist at SMRS.
|12:30||Lunch & networking|
“Prospectuses as part of a digital-first approach to PG engagement”
Dr. Emily Rozier, Postgraduate Recruitment Officer at the University of Birmingham and HEERA Executive Committee member.
“How to maximise research impact through content and the media”
Amy Pullan, Media Relations Officer at the University of Sheffield.
PG student panel: “What do students really think about your marketing campaigns”
Hosted by: Rachel Killian, Education Lead Client Partner at Penna PLC.
The FindAUniversity Marketing Conference was sponsored by HEERA
The Higher Education External Relations Association is the professional body of staff working across the areas of press & public relations, marketing, alumni relations and fundraising in the higher education sector. Find out more here.
This event was organised by FindAUniversity with sponsorship from HEERA. It featured case studies and presentations from leading higher education marketing professionals, together with opportunities for networking and discussion.
Simon Pride, Director of Communications (Harper Adams University) and Mike Bond, Strategic Director and Founder (Bond and Coyne)
Pride and Bond used case studies to highlight the challenges faced by smaller and more specialised institutions seeking to overcome geographical and competitor challenges, whilst recruiting students with very specific aims and aspirations – an effective microcosm for the issues involved in postgraduate recruitment more generally.
Pride and Bond suggested that content creation be viewed as a manifesto: a means of talking to an audience, rather than simply broadcasting an organisation’s vision. This, in turn, might mean moving away from a dominant ‘USP’ to multiple ‘SPs’, as appropriate to what an audience’s actual interests.
Chris Brady, Postgraduate marketing Manager (Leeds Beckett University)
Brady presented a compelling case study, based on a decision to improve immediate progression to postgraduate study, following the announcement of Masters loans in 2014.
This involved crafting a message around the availability of new financial support, but, in an echo of Pride and Bond’s session, it also meant understanding the needs of a prospective postgraduate audience.
As part of his presentation, Brady welcomed the opportunity the conference afforded for an extended discussion of postgraduate-specific challenges. His session followed through on this by demonstrating the value of effective communication in a recruitment landscape that is being fundamentally changed by new student finance.
Jonah Duffin, Director of External Relations (Birkbeck, University of London) and Ed Layt, Education Marketing Specialist (SMRS)
The need to understand and address prospective postgraduate audiences was absolutely central to this third session.
Duffin and Layt began by considering the rapidly expanding data sets available to HE marketers, and once more a case study was used to examine specific processes and present actionable insights.
By using relatively simple information from student applications, Duffin and Layt were able to identify useful personas for future applicants. This then made it possible to fine-tune future recruitment activity: using audience data to better understand that audience, with impressive results.
Emily Rozier, Postgraduate Recruitment Officer (The University of Birmingham)
With a background as an academic medievalist, Rozier was pleased to hear that most of the conference still used physical prospectuses. Nonetheless, her presentation outlined options for a future in which institutions transitioned away from print.
Once more, a case study was used to explore the creation of a digital-first prospectus strategy. This had various general objectives: from improving the overall applicant journey to increasing website traffic and optimising the potential for student data collection.
But Rozier also identified opportunities to meet the specific needs of prospective postgraduates. These included a desire for highly detailed, complex and bespoke information, including specific course content throughout wide-ranging PGT portfolios and details of supervisor expertise for rapidly changing PGR opportunities.
Amy Pullan, Media Relations Officer (The University of Sheffield)
Pullan’s case study followed the steps taken to highlight the presence of university academics at a high-profile science summit. This tapped into many of the topics discussed in previous sessions: developing content for engagement and showcasing the value of individual students and researchers to an institution.
Again, the implicit focus was on creating a strategy that sought to meet the aspirations of postgraduate students and highlight the ways an institution might support and partner with those aspirations.
Chair: Rachel Killian, Education Lead Client Partner (Penna PLC)
The final item on the programme looked at the other side of the marketing and recruitment process. Students from the UK, EU and further afield explaining the factors behind their choices of course and institution as well as their aims, objectives and concerns.
The reasons given for selecting further study were surprisingly varied. Some were financial (including the availability of alumni discounts and student loans). Others were highly pragmatic, with international panellists in particular viewing UK postgraduate qualifications as an almost obligatory step on their intended career paths.
To hear about our next FindAUniversity Marketing Conference, or suggest a topic for discussion, please email: [email protected]