Using Online Calendars to Boost Recruitment

Higher education marketers often balance a number of responsibilities and objectives as they aim to continually attract more students to apply and attend their university. Despite the new technologies that can enhance their work, some marketers continue to spend precious time and resources on old school recruiting efforts, leaving them little time to experiment with new tactics. One of the easiest ways to boost your recruitment efforts is through online calendars. We don’t mean your traditional Outlook calendar that shows you a monthly view and makes you click on each day to see what events are taking place. We’re talking interactive event calendars, with a standalone page dedicated to each event, that incorporate lively event content, social sharing capabilities and deep analytics with little effort.

Your online event calendar

Event calendars are a great way to share a representative sample of the activity happening on campus. For current students wanting to know what’s happening on campus, they can simply check the online events calendar for times, dates and details. A well created event calendar will also allow them to leave comments, upload images of an event and interact on social media with fellow students, lending to the collaborative community feel that’s essential to campus life.

Prospective students will find a wealth of information at their fingertips when accessing a school’s online event calendar – they’ll be able to get a sense of on-campus activities, such as academic lectures, social and athletic life, volunteer opportunities and everything in between. Prospective students can see the events that have taken place throughout the year and pinpoint particular events that may pique their interest during their time at university. This holistic view showcases what is unique about the campus.

Why are calendars so useful for higher ed marketers?

These calendars highlight the events on campus and allow for both current and prospective students to look online and find information on upcoming events.

An efficient online calendar is filled with rich content, which can play a major role in SEO efforts. For instance, a 30-day grid view — which lists simple event information such as name, date and place — is meant to remind you when and where the event is taking place, not to sell you on the actual event itself.  An interactive calendar allows a school to showcase their brand and their investment in students by offering both overall event snapshots and individual event landing pages. This allows for more event content that visitors can click on for more information, providing the opportunity for a larger number of keywords and page views. Better visibility creates more, engaged visitors,  and thus increases the time visitors spend on your school’s website. The amount of time a visitor spends on a site plays a factor in how search engines use their ranking algorithms – so the longer students are engaging with your events and event content, the better it will be for your SEO.

When there is a considerable amount of social engagement around your events, search engines infer that your website offers valuable information because it’s popular and engaging with users online. Utilizing online calendar software that can provide immediate metric reports, specifically on the social media activity around a particular event, and having access to the real-time knowledge of this data will allow you to optimize your event marketing efforts, ultimately benefiting your SEO.

The access to data is also a benefit to marketers, since online calendar technology allows them to collect back-end analytics on their master calendar, including attendee geography, trends and social media activity. From decision-making (looking at trends to understand which types of events, times and locations work best for your school) to audience insights, collecting data on how your audience views and acts on an event listing can help you make smarter event decisions. Many calendars will integrate with your current marketing tools – like CRM and registration platforms — allowing you to get a better snapshot of your overall marketing ROI.

What about an online event calendar makes an impact on your school?

Event content – it’s the information that accompanies an event listing. This includes everything from the date and time to the event image, metadata and RSVPs. In the case of colleges and universities marketing themselves to prospective students, event content can showcase things like faculty, campus scenery and landmarks, famous alumni and student research.

Online event calendars promote university events to a wider student audience, attract additional traffic to the site and ultimately expand the reach of your recruitment marketing to anyone with online access – and that’s a win for both students and higher education marketers.

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Mykel Nahorniak is the co-founder and CEO of Localist, an event technology company. In this role, Myke defines the vision and growth of the business and Localist products. Myke serves as a mentor at 1776, a DC-based incubator, is an angel investor with K Street Capital, and is an executive coach.

PR Pitch Strategy: 4 Must-Do’s When Pitching Your Professor

Crafting a pitch that reinforces a professor’s value to a spectrum of audiences is no simple task, but in order to do so PR professionals must first put forward the effort to develop a strong client relationship. Whether they are new or an existing professor, understanding their background and industry is paramount for any PR pitch strategy to work. Gaining new opportunities for a professor is a culmination of tactful communication, organic chemistry, and an understanding of a desired outcome on both ends. The art of a pitch can only begin by first refining a PR professional’s interpersonal skill set.

Here are some important tips that need to be taken into account before pitching your client:

Establish Trust: Why Should Professors Believe in Digital PR?

It’s no secret that the foundation to any relationship is trust, so how can trust be secured? Assuring a client that they can expect increased visibility and an increased level of brand awareness for their program is step one. By providing case studies of past successes, a client can better gauge what to expect as they place their public image into the hands of those in PR. For example, a PR professional should promote their accomplishments and mention what notable publications they have succeeded in getting other clients published in. We have the responsibility of knowing what it is we are able to accomplish and should communicate those abilities to our clients. Alternatively, we must be as transparent as possible when it comes to how our team operates when guaranteeing a PR pitching strategy that a professor can believe in. Once a professor is on board with the pitching strategy, PR professionals must strive to demonstrate a consistent work ethic in order to prove that they are reliable.

Be Informed: Know Your Professor and Their Field of Expertise

Before writing a pitch, a PR professional must do their research. Engage in a discussion about what the Professor’s strengths are, making it clear that the end-goal is to showcase them in the best light possible. A vital part of our higher education digital PR pitching strategy is to leverage the expertise of professors and create quality backlinks to boost program organic rankings. But before learning how to write the perfect media pitch, you must familiarize yourself with your client’s persona, their work, and how they want to be represented as experts in the public sphere. Start with an initial interview that delves into the client’s background and ask them to open up a discussion on what they are passionate about. What research are they currently conducting? What do they feel is their biggest accomplishment to date? These types of questions are crucial to ask before moving forward with your pitch.

Targeting Publications: Know Your Professors Audience and Goals

After discussing a Professor’s needs and assessing what topics they can speak on most confidently, it then becomes the PR professional’s responsibility to pitch them to a publication. Depending on a key element of the pitch, specifically the news peg or time peg, certain outlets may find more value in a professor’s commentary than others. Can the professor provide insight on a subject that is more specific to an industry-related audience, or will their knowledge be more appealing to a broader audience? In the SEO sphere, utilizing a browser analytics extension tool such as the MOZ bar can help those in PR determine a publication’s website metrics and traffic. This would allow for the targeting of publications we know would bring more visibility to our client. We want nothing more but to make a professor as relevant as possible to those willing to listen. Being able to match these to the desires of the professor can also add to the successes and opportunities gained.

Rule of Thumb: Show Appreciation

A professor’s time is incredibly valuable and they will have spent countless hours conducting research within their respective fields. They are trusting agencies to execute good PR on their behalf and undoubtedly deserve gratitude for giving those in PR the opportunity to do their job. And let’s not forget the journalists and editors. They too are constantly juggling a multitude of projects and we must be sensitive to how we approach pitching them our professors. A simple “thank you” after scoring an opportunity can facilitate the growth of a relationship which in turn can present more opportunities for clients down the road. As PR professionals, we celebrate the success of our professor’s being published. Successful PR is not automatic, and it is important to take pride in any goal that has been achieved.

Aren Fikes is a recent graduate of Humboldt State University and budding multimedia journalist. During his time at Circa Interactive, he has grown exponentially while taking his first steps into the Digital PR and Marketing Realm. He hopes forge a career path that enhances his passions for storytelling, digital content creation and marketing in the near future.

 

 

The Do’s and Don’ts of Student Blogging

Student blogging is an excellent way to get your students involved with working behind the scenes as well as getting real life work experience in the digital marketing, journalism, and communications industry. Running a blog successfully is no easy feat, and student blogging can come with its own unique obstacles and challenges that other blogs of influencers and businesses might not experience. When you are running a student blog, you are not only responsible for creating and publishing content to boost readership; you are employing young adults who are looking to learn and have little experience working with blogs. The purpose of this article is to educate colleges, as well as the marketing directors of those colleges, on the best practices of running a student blog. Below is a helpful list of do’s and don’ts to give you some insight on different tactics or even things you may need to change in your current strategy.

The Do’s

  • Do have a discussion with your marketing team before you get started on any writing. It is entirely possible that your marketing team can even write up a few guidelines to follow.
  • Do find ways to create synergy between the students’ blogging and marketing efforts. One example of this could be to share the marketing content calendar with your students. Make sure that everyone on the blogging team is aware of important deadlines so they can work together successfully to keep processes running smoothly. Another suggestion would be to have weekly meetings where everyone on the blogging team – students and faculty – comes together to discuss the tasks that everyone is working on. Even if it is just a quick half hour meet up, it is good for everyone to be on the same page about what’s going on, so no one is left in the dark.
  • Do give your students an opportunity to provide their insights. This is something important to remember because these students may be able to help you reach future students of the school, as they were just one themselves. Also, providing them this opportunity will give them a sense of pride and authority, which will ultimately motivate them to be more productive and take pride in their work.
  • Do brainstorm different article ideas over a wide variety of topics: opinion pieces, school updates, extracurricular club activities, community news, student or faculty accomplishments, etc. You want to ensure you are not posting too much information on the same topic categories to attract the interest of different audiences within as well as outside of the school. Listen to the ideas of your students. Maybe they can come up with topics that are more out of the box while still being relevant to the school.

The Don’ts

  • Don’t allow bite-sized content similar to what you might see on Twitter or Instagram. That tactic may work for those networks, but keep in mind that a blog is something entirely different and should be treated as such. The blog content on the website should be more substantial with in-depth text and large, clear visuals. If you find that a student is struggling with this and feeling more comfortable with the social media type content, then you might want to consider giving them the opportunity to use their skills on other channels like Tumblr, Snapchat or medium.com to push your existing content.
  • Don’t allow content to be published without an editorial review, including the compliance department. This is a huge no-no. Each and every piece that gets published on the blog should have been edited thoroughly at least twice. This would provide an excellent opportunity to let a student do a preliminary edit before handing it off to the editor for a final check and review. If something gets published and has errors or incorrect information, this will reflect poorly on the school’s reputation.
  • Don’t hide the content too deeply inside the site’s URL structure. Unfortunately, many college websites become so large that sometimes it is easy for content to get buried. If you want blog content to perform successfully, it should be no more than two clicks deep, ideally one click if possible. The deeper your content is, the less important search engines will think it is, and it will become tough for your readers to find it. If you have weekly or monthly newsletters that you send out to an email subscription list, include recent blog posts to keep your readers up to date on new content.
  • Don’t use any images, graphics or videos that you do not have permission to use. It is important to learn and understand copyright laws so that you do not find yourself in any legal trouble. When in doubt, only use content that has a creative commons license with no restrictions or use your original content. Look to your students within the photography and digital design departments of your school to source out this kind of work.

Most importantly, it is key to find the healthy balance of giving your students responsibility as well as maintaining your level of authority over the blog’s entire operation. Always be willing to let them try certain tasks while monitoring their progress and checking over their performance. To be successful in maintaining your blog, you must be able to provide quick and honest feedback in a constructive fashion.

Make suggestions to your students so they can reach their full potential and always be willing to make necessary changes to the blog content when it is needed. Ultimately, the success of the blog will depend on the marketing director and editor in charge.

f91c64abc4dbaa8e6bf536759b968b9b-bpfullThis article is by guest author Chris Hornak, who has been developing digital marketing campaigns for over a decade. He is the CEO and Owner of Blog Hands a service that helps businesses and agencies develop content to tell their story. In his spare time, he loves to play video games and spend time with his friends and family.

5 Ways Your Online Event Calendar Can Positively Influence SEO

By Krystal Putman-Garcia, Vice President, Marketing, Localist

As competition for students becomes fiercer, search engine optimization has never been more important for a college/university. Better visibility and finding creates more visitors and engaged students. Thus university marketing teams are constantly looking for ways to improve their standing in search results. One key element that higher education marketers may be overlooking is their online event calendar. Just think about it – an efficient online calendar is filled with up-to-date events that are rich in content, which can play a major factor in SEO efforts.

Luckily, there are simple and efficient ways your online event calendar can help increase page views and positively influence SEO. Here’s how:

1. Grow the Number of Pages on Your Website

Having more pages on your website – in this case individual event pages – gives you the opportunity to have a larger number of keywords and page views. Instead of having a static 30-day calendar grid-view, you can make your events SEO-friendly with a dedicated page for each event, which allows users to click and view more information.

More event pages will also encourage users to engage with your online event calendar, thereby increasing the time visitors spend on your site. As you may know, the time a visitor spends on a site is one of the factors that search engines use in their ranking algorithms, so the longer visitors are engaging with your events, the better for your SEO.

However, it’s important to note that having more pages isn’t enough – these pages must also be structured correctly. Your online event calendar system should code the name of the event as <h1>. This defines the most important heading, and search engines will pick this up as a priority.

2. Gain a Large Quantity of Backlinks

The number of times people link to your site is a big “off-page” factor in SEO. When there are a ton of backlinks, search engines infer that your website offers valuable or interesting information because it’s popular and engaging with users online. Think about the large quantity of backlinks your online event calendar could gain if other people, companies or organizations share unique links for each individual event on their own websites.

Increasing backlinks is a direct result of getting people more engaged in your online event calendar, and that means your online event calendar should be chock-full of content and events.

3. Activate Social Sharing for Users

There are tons of benefits to incorporating social media into your online calendar, especially when it comes to SEO. Search engines are constantly taking social data into account when displaying search results. In fact, links that people are sharing over social media see more success in user searches.

Be sure to utilize online calendar software that can provide immediate metric reports, specifically on the social media activity around a particular event. Having access to the real-time knowledge of this data will allow you to optimize your marketing efforts, ultimately impacting your SEO.

4. Gain Attention with Unique Event Titles and Descriptions

While content should always be interesting and engaging, each event should also include custom, unique page titles and descriptions. Meta titles and descriptions that feature relevant keywords a user might type into a search box help attract robots and will display as a “sneak peek” for the page in search results.

5. Keep Your Content Fresh

It’s important to consistently update your online event calendar with new events. Ultimately good SEO is good content. You’ll need to make sure you are including as much descriptive content as possible for each event to ensure guaranteed SEO success. Frequently updated high-quality content sends a signal to search engines that your page is worth displaying in search results. Thanks to the easy-to-use nature of online calendars, new content will be easily achieved through basic day-to-day updates.

An event isn’t successful if no one knows about it until after it has happened. In order to get your events discovered, the right online calendar should be fully equipped to help with many important SEO factors. Events generated through our software at Localist are integrated with Google’s index so your events appear higher in search results. And metrics such as EventReach will help you quantify how discoverable your events are amongst the student body.

Online event calendars, especially those generated with a robust interactive software, can ensure your school – and event – will get found online. Highlight these SEO-friendly features of your online event calendar and page views will soar.

Krystal Putman-Garcia

Krystal Putman-Garcia serves as Vice President of Marketing for Localist, an event marketing technology company that offers interactive calendars that help companies publish, manage and promote events. She is responsible for Localist’s marketing and partnership efforts, to ultimately help businesses make the most out of their events.