The Higher Ed Marketer
The Higher Ed Marketer

Episode · 11 months ago

How to Leverage Student-Produced, Authentic Content


Sometimes when marketers get all gung-ho about creating work, especially content that looks “professional,” it can blur the authenticity of the message. Members of Gen Z (who have highly sensitive BS filters) can prefer content that’s imperfect.

In this episode, we spoke with Nate Jorgensen, Director of Marketing and Communications at the University of Cincinnati - College of Engineering and Applied Science, about when marketers do too much work and how to let their institutions sell themselves.

Join us as we discuss:

- Growing your institution’s footprint

- Authentic communication strategies

- How to use student-produced content that may not be all positive

- The impact of video: from Nate’s engineering video series to candid iPhone filming

To hear more interviews like this one, subscribe to Higher Ed Marketer on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or your preferred podcast platform.

Listening on a desktop & can’t see the links? Just search for Higher Ed Marketer in your favorite podcast player.

We tend to think we need a production crew to make something happen, and I've seen the most amazing and effect of marketing done literally with an iphone by a student. You are listening to the Higher Ed Marketer, a podcast geared towards marketing professionals in higher education. This show will tackle all sorts of questions related to student recruitment, don'tor relations, marketing trends, new technologies and so much more. If you are looking for conversation centered around where the industry is going, this podcast is for you. Let's get into the show. Welcome to the High Ed Marketer podcast. My name is troy singer and I'm with my cohost and fantasy football referee, Bart Taylor, and today we are talking to Nate Jorgensen, who works at the University of Cincinnati College of Engineering, and he's going to take us on his journey and give us his perspective of marketing a college that is within a larger college. Yeah, it's a really fascinated conversation. I think he does a great job of kind of explaining the benefits of that as well as some of the challenges, and I love how he kind of keeps coming back to one of my favorite topics, which is content marketing, and I think he's got a lot of really good things to say. No matter what size of institution you are, I think there's a lot of things that you can clean from what he's learning, what they are doing and how they're doing it. So just a great conversation and just a side note, nate has been a fan of the high ed marketer from almost day one. I think he found it on Linkedin and started commenting and liking some of our posts and we got to know him through that and then reached out and ask him to be on the podcast as a guest, and so it's it's just fascinating a kind of come full circle and have him on the show. You'll definitely realize that he is an ongoing learner and we are so happy that he turned from Super Fan to wonderful guest. That's right. Here's our conversation with nate. Today on the High Ed Marketer Podcast, we are speaking with Nate Jorgensen. He's the director of Marketing and communications of the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Cincinnati and I know that he is a fan and he is an evangelist for his college, but right now he's probably feeling good about the football team as well. Hello, nate, let's hear it now. It's the great time for the school. Overall it is. I got tremendously lucky to be where I am, on the right at the beginning of a huge op swing, so I get a lot of credit for stuff I had nothing to do with. The football team as one of them. It's great. Well, they're in the news a lot and, aside from the wonderful conversations were going to have about marketing, I just felt to say congratulations and I hope you get to enjoy a few more wins on the way to a national championship. Nate, we have you on today because you have you're in a wonderful situation and would like to share the story of the College of Engineering. For those of us in the Midwest, we know is and has been a wonderful attractor for engineering students, a very famous in itself, but this midsize college is up under a larger organization of University of Cincinnati. So wanted to talk to you about your experiences and your journey in regard to that, because a lot of us might think the College of engineering at Cincinnati they want to do that much marketing. The school sells itself. You know what are you? Why do you have to market it? But we all know that is not true. So again, would like for you to kind of tell us historically how the marketing went and then maybe some of the changes that you're making with you and your team as you move forward in some of the aspirations you have for the college. Yes, absolutely, thanks, Troy. Well, you know, to be completely honest, what you said is kind of true. The college does sell itself and that's something that we talked about as a team. Is that what can we do to move the needle even higher with what's going on and you know, the the...

...differentiators for the college, most most notice noticeably the co op program where students alternate time between the classroom and we're getting real world experience, is just so different compared to the average engineering education that that really does sell itself. Sometimes it's just a matter of getting that message in front of people who don't necessarily know it, and especially with more out of market audiences that aren't in Ohio or Kentucky or Indiana. And so yeah, that's that's something that we do and and one thing I can kind of say right off the bat to maybe illustrate that is that as we saw what was going to happen, hopefully with the football season, we started thinking about how can we amplify our message within that and very early on we put together some profiles, one on Alec Pierce, who's a wide receiver, and one on Ryan Royer, who is a linebacker. They're both mechanical engineering students, and so we had those ready to go when they started having big years, and Alex in particular, and Ryan, as a great walk on story in his own right, in a great student. But then those hit and then all the sudden engineering was in people's minds too. I was just talking about this with one of my teammates and not every bowl bound school can say that right now. And I'm not saying where geniuses are anything, but that is something that we thought of before the season started and thought, let's be ready with these when people come calling. That's really smart, because I think that, you know, I think that sometimes marketing is all about being at the right place at the right time, and I think being able to really plan ahead and think about that. I think was very wise. You know, you look at some of the larger schools that that I think sometimes do that. I think about Notre Dame and places like that, that they're in the national spotlight all the time with like an NBC contract and things like that. But I think for some of the smaller schools and places like colleges within bigger universities, being able to really kind of roll up your sleeves and lean into that, I think that's really smart. And tell me a little bit of how that fits into the larger, you know, aspect of the of the marketing at the College of Engineering, because I mean you've given us a small window into this year and this moment, but tell us more about how you're how you're kind of explaining the benefits of the CO OP program too. Yeah, another great question. So it has been an evolving process and and kind of going back to what you asked about with the history before, with the college selling itself, they really didn't pay a whole lot of attention to marketing for a very long time and or at least didn't put the emphasis on it that they have in recent years. And some of that can be just me bugging them until they figured out that it was something that would be helpful. But also, along with those lines, we started working with our enrollment management office in the college really for the first time that our office has in a long time, and that is as remarkable as it sounds. Maybe before and marketing and communication, there were press releases going out and there were postcards touting awards, one or other publications and and things like that. But starting, just starting that conversation with the enrollment management team, learning their world, learning what their goals are and most simply, it's just to grow the footprint and grow in numbers. But you it to do so, you have to grow your footprints. So we've really tried to see what would work when we get outside of that world that doesn't know the coop story right off the top of their head, and one area in particular that we've had some success in is Chicago, where there is some recognition for the area. Miami University, I think, has a really strong draw and Chicago historically, so they know the area a little bit and then their...

...primed a little bit to hear about our university and the CO OP program within engineering when we start that conversation. So that's been really interesting to tweak our ads all along while they're going tweak the stories that were linking, to tweak what is in the emails that are going out to those who have applied or have expressed interest. It's just such an interesting I love it, I love learning about it and I love every bit of trying to figure out what a person will be interested in that and that time and really just being authentic, like we're not going to be everything to everyone. We're not Harvard and we'RE NOT UCLA, we're Cincinnati and we're all the things that that implies that are great, and so we try to find those people that were a a match for the students that we'd be a good match for. That makes a lot of sense. I think it goes back to segmentation and getting the right mission fit. You know, sometimes it's called mission fit, it's a lot of times it's just the right fit to know that, hey, if we get this kind of student, we know that they're going to retain, retentions going to be great, they're going to matriculate, they're going to be, you know, successful graduates who are going to then give back to the school later on, and so I think that's a really wise way to look at it. Now we've talked a lot about, you know, the College of Engineering and your marketing department being under the larger umbrella of the you know, probably the Centralized Marketing Department at University of Cincinnati. What are some of the kind of maybe opportunities? We talked a little bit about that already, but maybe some of the challenges or maybe the restraints that sometimes happen because, I mean, in essence, you're yours college of engineering is much larger than a lot of the schools that are listening to this already. How do you kind of navigate that and where does that kind of start to rub a little bit? Oh, that's so true and yes, so so. First of all, with the opportunities that that presents. Our Central Marketing and communications team is awesome and they're on the cutting edge of all of those thingss that that we talked about with ads and online advertising and everything else. So we're able to hear about that from someone who is, quite frankly, just done all the work and then they say, Hey, this is what the research says, this is what our partner who we work with to get these up, says. is working across the nation and then so we as a college have the opportunity to invest the dollars that were in control of to take advantage of that. And then also along with that, they will have campaigns that are going out and then they'll sometimes just say there's a place in here for college specific content, and that produces a really cool opportunity and a really cool situation to learn how to fit into that. And so that kind of leads me into some of the limitations and and my background has always been at the institution level. I was a sports information director at some small schools. I worked in athletic departments, then I worked at right State University on the University web team before I came to the College of Engineering and Applied Science at the University of Cincinnati, and I literally was that person who says we know everything at the university. You and the college is don't know how to do it, so just listen to us and and do it our way. And while have I learned so much in the last five years, you know, and sometimes that's true, but that's not how you say it, and you have to be on the same team as the person to get them to come along with you and sometimes there are perspectives that you are missing that the people in the colleges have, and so this is just been the most value. I just love my job and I love this experience of learning all that and learning the difference between one of the main issues is that, I believe this isn't a hundred percent...

...true. At the university level you're responsible to the president and all of those in all of those areas, growing enrollment, growing impact, growing rankings. In the college, typically you're responsible to the Dean and you report to the Dean and the Dean for the most part reports to the faculty within that college. So you do have some limitations and different incentives, I would say, to do different things, and so one of the ways that we really try as a team to do our best with that is to find a way to use something in three different ways. If if a faculty member with with very good intention and reasons, as I want this story written about this paper that was published, we can do that, but then we can also mix that content into our recruiting material for students in that area. We can turn it into a tweet that's going to go out later in the semester. We might then do a video feature on that faculty member to explain their research a little bit better. So fitting all of those puzzle pieces together is kind of what I think my job is and I think I just happened to find this area that I can do this well, and I'm not sure that's the case with all jobs, but but it's something that that I enjoy a lot, especially with engineering and Applied Science. It's great. Thank you, nate. You touched on being authentic a little while ago. In from previous conversations with you and members of your team, I know that's something that you and your team are very passionate about, at communicating authentically. So if you could share how you're trying to achieve that and how it may be different than how your team previously communicated? Yes, absolutely, and our previously our web manager, she just got promoted to Assistant Director of Marketing, Sarah Mullins. This has been all of her work. Is Pretty much telling us to stop doing what we're doing, with being the forty year old people telling seventeen year olds what they should care about, to having our students tell that story and, surprise, surprise, that's what perspective. Students would rather here, and so our most successful content has been our student blog post. They're not all a hundred percent positive and that's great and we learn a lot from that and the odd authenticity of that pays off way more than being super protective. I think anyone within higher add knows that no institution is perfect, and so once you kind of accept that and and let people share their own voice, that that has just resonated so much. You know, at forty two years old, I think I'm completely out of the game of knowing at all what a perspective college student would want, and so it's really dedicating ourselves to that authenticity has just been a game changer for us. For All of those reasons. I think that's so true. You know, you're much younger than I am, nate, but I think the idea that having that understanding that okay, we you know. You know we had another guest on recently that said if I like it, it probably isn't going to work, and she is, you know, our age, and so I think that's so true and I, you know, having some kids that are in college right now, in high school students, you know, them watching tick tock and other things. I don't get it sometimes and I don't understand a lot of it, but when they see it and they get it and they understand somebody who's gets it with them, there is that authenticity and the challenge is that, I'll think, a lot of time schools try to pull it off without being authentic, and that's the worst thing you can do. With Jen Z, I mean, you know, they grew up with a BS filter that's, you know, more sensitive than any the rest of us and I think that they can get through that pretty quick and so we need to we need to acknowledge that and be thoughtful about that and I think that's a really good idea. Now, now our...

I mean when you talk about the student to student connection, are there ways that you're doing that? Are you recruiting students to help you, or they work study, or are is that more like some software you're using? Tell us a little bit about that. Yeah, we have an amazing student ambassador group among other students within our college. One of the most incredible things that I learned early on in my work there is that almost all, but as specifically a couple different groups, are absolutely enthusiastic about being students in the College of Engineering and Applied Science. We have a group of students, the ambassadors, who almost completely run are on campus visits for perspective students and they really just do it because they want to do it, and so there is one example where it's just there, there, and they're there for feedback a lot of times on the marketing team where we might say this or this, what do you think and they'll say neither and it's very helpful. So yeah, not just that particular group, but our enrollment management team really does a good job of connecting with students across majors, across departments and having those students available, and then when they connect with some of those students, they usually send them our way to say this student would be a great feature, this student would do a great blog post about their experience, and so it kind of just feeds itself and kind of goes back to the college selling itself again and kind of all the stuff that I'm saying is I really think that at times you I do just have to let a college sell itself. Me Getting in the way sometimes and trying to do more work sometimes as de detrimental to what we're trying to do and being okay, with that as hard at times, especially with with some other people that we work with, as the best thing we can do right now is nothing. You always think you have to be filling your day with doing grinding out the work, and I don't think that's the best strategy. Yeah, I know that we I know you listen to the podcast night and I know we had that Lee will hide on a few weeks ago from Biola, and they've done a really good job of not only leveraging their students but also using them a little bit as influencers. I mean looking at social profiles and being able to do that, and so I love the idea of that student to student Peer Marketing. I think that's so powerful and I think that. I think that's really exciting and I think that's probably going to continue on. But I think another big part of it, and we talked a bit about this earlier, as I'd have content marketing. To I mean I think that all students, you know, and perspective parents, are coming to the university that they're considering with a ton of questions and the content really going to help provide those answers. Tell us a bit about what you guys do with them. Yeah, excellent point, and so one of the things that we do with that are kind of specifically those student blog posts on particular questions that people tend to ask. So we've started, and were a good chunk of the way through our what is engineering videos series, and it really I learned stuff as someone who's worked in the college for five years. You know what really is biomedical engineering? How is it different than mechanical or chemical engineering? And I guess one of the things that we've done in the past is taken advantage of opportunities that came about to get the right people in place and order to do that, and one example of that is we have a videographer on our team and that so making that content is very video heavy, because there's only so much that probably people want to read and that video can just be more effective and getting the personal connection with the subject. And we had a situation a couple years ago where like it was like an...

...instructional designer video person who had left, and I kind of talked everyone into splitting that position between between academics and marketing, and that is one thing that I've learned in this role that could potentially be helpful for other listeners is sometimes we're just trying to grind out the right the thing that we want approved, and sometimes just waiting for the right opportunity to make it easy is the more effective way as well. And so yeah, beyond the content itself, setting ourselves up to have the right personnel in place and all of the right technology has done a big part of that as well. I hope that's helpful. That's that is great. That's great. Being a longtime listener, nate, you know, we usually in their episode by asking our guest if there is a final thought or a takeaway that they can offer that could be implemented immediately by a colleague or's another listener. So I asked that of you. Is there a final thought that you have that you would like to leave with us? I do so. I mentioned US having a videographer. We have a videographer, a writer, someone who does graphics, someone who does social media. They all kind of split it up a little bit. One of the things that I've noticed when I'm on some of the conference, the video conferences recently with other marketing professionals and the higher education world is I think we tend to think we need a production crew to make something happen and I've seen the most amazing and effective marketing done literally with an Iphone by a student, and sometimes that is absolutely it. And I've heard US go around and around on some of those conferences before, myself included, saying, well, how can we get a budget for that? How can we do that? And it's like literally, it's all right there, and maybe it is a little bit of taking those students who are willing to tell their story and not worrying so much about it being all perfect but more so just authentic and what the perspective student wants to see. That's great. Thank you. I think you brought at full circle and that authenticity might work a lot better than the full production that you once thought was needed to get the point across. So thank you for putting exclamation point on our episode. How can someone reach you if they would like to connect? Probably the best way is to go to CEASTUC DOT EDU and we ner the about. We have a contact page where I'm listed rather than rattling off my long email address. I'm also on twitter. I don't even I think my my handle is nate jorgans and eight, and that's just what was available at the time and I'm on Linkedin as well if you just search nate Jorkins, and so I would love to connect. Other previous guests on this podcast I have reached out to and have given me very valuable information on being successful in this world. So please, if there's anything that I said that that you want to know more about, I would be more than happy to talk nate. Thank you for being a guest but, more importantly, thank you for being a longtime listener. I was just talking to Bart a little earlier and he said even before you agreed to be a guest, he kept on seeing your comments on our episodes and he reached out and had a wonderful thirty minute conversation with you. So we appreciate your support absolutely. I think I probably just annoyed Bart to the point where he had to interview me. So No, not at all. Know, it's been a pleasure so eventy me to thank you, bar art. Any final thoughts from you? Yeah, I just wanted to point out a few things and there's a little bit of a theme that has went through this whole conversation about content and I really liked him. One of the things that that nate said is that when they produce content in the College of Engineering, that try to look at how they're going to use it three ways. A lot of times we talked about, you know, syndicating the content. So whether you're, you know, doing a blog post or or even doing a podcast like this podcast,...

...we take it, we turn it into a blog post. I'm also uploading these podcasts to youtube and so now they're a video and so there's a lot of different ways to syndicate that. So I love the idea of looking at your content, looking at what you're doing and figuring out how can you do it, you know, what can you do with it three times? I also love the idea of using students in that peer to peer marketing. I think that's so valuable, especially in today's you know, culture and climate. With Generation Z, and I think it's going to continue on with generation Alpha when they come that they're going to expect to kind of see from their peers more than what they're going to believe from the official Party line type of thing. I think that's great. And then, finally, I think this idea of asking the questions or answering the questions that we have from prospective students and parents through our content is so critical and I really appreciated that last comment that nate made about sometimes an iphone is going to be more effective. You know, I've put together an ebook before and it's a presentation that I've done called marketing on a shoestring budget, and my whole point of that, entire whatever I put out there, the Ebook or whatever, is the idea that you need to focus on content and getting out off authentic content, whether you do it with an iphone. I mean you can go to Amazon and get a few little access series with a Lavier mic for twenty bucks and a little iphone stand for a tripod and you can do some pretty effective videos. And I've seen schools that have like fifty students do very effective videos on no budget at all just because they downloaded, you know, imovie and a couple things there. So don't be scared of developing a lot of really good content, especially video content, because it's well within your ability to do that. Thank you, Bart and again thank you, nate, for being such a wonderful guest today. Yes, thank you, thank you both. The hired marketer podcast is sponsored by Taylor Solutions, a strategy, marketing and branding agency serving higher ed institutions for over twenty years and, by Think, patented a Marketing Execution Company combining print, digital engagement and direct mail for successful search and appeal campaigns. On behalf of Bart Kaylor, my cohost. I'm troy singer. Thank you very much for listening. You've been listening to the Higher Ed Marketer. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in your favorite podcast player. If you're listening with apple PODCASTS, we'd love for you to leave a quick rating of the show. Simply tap the number of stars you think the podcast deserves. Until next time,.

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