The Rise of the Digital Dean
Tweet your comments and questions directly to author Don Crow, @DonCrow
I had the good fortune to attend an advisory committee meeting late last week. You know the one: your well placed alums (donors) reconvene on campus once or twice a year to help you (and your staff) recommend solutions for the School, College or University to tackle.
This particular one was all about communication. Or, on a more granular level: why there seems to be so little communication.
It’s an interesting problem for a Dean or Department Head. They have websites, their phone numbers and email addresses are easy to find online, most of their organizations have a Facebook page at least, some have an official Twitter account, they have email newsletters and the venerable Alumni Magazine.
And yet, to hear the committee describe it, there is a void waiting to be filled.
What does an enterprising Dean do then to break out of the communication void?
Welcome in (embrace!) the age of spreading the power from the few to the many.
Magazines, annual meetings, direct mail, email, and heaven forbid – telemarketing all interrupt your intended audience.
Twitter, Facebook, Blogs, Instagram, Linkedin, mobile apps, Tumblr and even that old “www” website may all be visited on your audience’s on terms. Further, your audience can share the information and entertainment they find there with their networks – en masse or targeted to fellow alums.
The good news in this model is you no longer have to print a smooth gazillion pieces of mail and hope that everyone reads it, you just have to figure out how to appeal to the active members of your digital tribe. They’ll do the micro distribution for you. For free. Gratis. Please and Thank You.
And you know what? It will get attention this way because it is coming from a friend, a trusted source, a gatekeeper if you will, to their individual attention stream.
Take for example, Michigan State University’s Extension team publishing a list of other Universities’ mobile applications which help the Ag industry. Purdue University Extension, the University of Missouri Extension, and UC Davis all get mentioned in the article for building apps which fill a real life information need for an end user. That user’s day-to-day work life was improved, and guess who got the credit?
A University which the user probably had no relationship with previously.
What’s going on here? Filing this need, regardless of alumni or fan affiliation, is a way to spread the influence, prestige and subject matter expertise of the publishing University.
Sound familiar? What’s changed are the platforms. Stop trying to make this digital age harder than it really is. Shorter attention spans, a variety of devices and platforms and users who are flooded with information on all fronts has created a marketing message immune system fine-tuned over the past decade.
You’ve got great information at your University. Useful, necessary and potentially game-changing – but what you need is to become a Digital Dean if you have any hope of it extending beyond the brick, glass and stucco walls of your campus.
Learn how to apply, “The Law of the Few,” and challenge your agency and internal communications and marketing staff to work towards getting into the stream of:
NOTE: If you’re not familiar with, “The Tipping Point,” by Malcolm Gladwell this probably sailed right over your mortar board hat.
Make yourself accessible on the very platforms your desired audience spends time on. It’s okay to ask for help – you’ll be amazed at how much you’ll learn from your own alumni once they see you make the leap.
Do you have to be over the top like the, “Perls of Knowledge,” Chancellor at the University of Nebraska? Or blend humor, seriousness and current events like Dean Bill Hardgrave of Auburn University’s College of Business?
Of course not! You do however, have to be yourself.
Now, just imagine the digital portrait of yourself alongside that oil on canvas one in Alumni Hall.
Author: Don Crow is Founder & CEO at Verge Pipe Media. Verge Pipe Media assists public institutions, enterprises and the non-profit sector with Imaginative Inbound Marketing strategies + campaigns. We also have a development team chock full of Marvelous Mobile Migrators, poised to help transition our clients into a mobile + social world with custom software, iOS and Android mobile apps.