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Top Category Takeaways: Higher Education and Public Media Underwriting

PMDMC, Corporate Support, higher education

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We will be more successful salespeople if we take the time to research the specific issues impacting our clients’ respective businesses and corresponding marketing strategies. That way we can better tailor our conversations to focus on our underwriters’ needs versus our own, and position public media’s value and the actual benefits it offers our underwriters (i.e. what public media sponsorship means to them).

But with all of the demands on our time, it can be hard to do your homework as well as you’d like before meeting with every client. A recent panel at PMDMC 2017 featured a marketing director from a higher education institution and offered a quick snapshot into some of the issues and disruptions affecting marketing within higher ed, a top category for many public stations.

Use this intel to inform your strategy for engaging your higher ed clients:

Business Issues

  • Enrollment dependence: Financially, it is not uncommon for universities’ operating income to come from tuition-based revenue. If universities continue on such a trajectory, is it a sustainable model?
  • Diversity: Education is supposed to be great equalizer, but many colleges and universities don’t do as good a job as they can to attract underrepresented communities.
  • Cost: The cost of attending college has increased steeply, so many consumers are faced not only with the decision of where to go and how they can afford it, but whether or not it makes sense to even go at all. This impacts the higher ed bottom line.
  • Technology and the traditional business model: The traditional university system must find ways to adapt to the changing economy and business environment. Universities need to continue adapting as technology is at the forefront of everything.

Marketing Focus

  • Metrics: If universities can’t measure something, it’s hard for them to rationalize
    the return. Digital and lead generation campaigns offer ways to attach real
    metrics and ROI. The true impact of radio is harder to gauge.
  • Campaign mix: Lead generation and conversion campaigns are important, but for
    many colleges and universities, so is institutional branding. Colleges and universities—especially specialty collegeswant to be heard, recognized, and
    want to leverage word of mouth to build awareness and trust with their target audiences of Millennials, their parents, those already in the workforce considering
    continuing their education, and donors/people of influence.
  • Trust is important: People—especially Millennialsknow how to tune ads
    out. Millennials do their research. They know where to go, and they turn to one
    another and their resources when making decisions.
  • Storytelling: These days, institutional branding means telling your story. But that’s
    not enough. For credibility reasons, it can more effective for someone else to be
    telling that story (i.e. consumers themselves on social and other platforms).

Media Mix

  • Digital: Colleges and universities buy a lot of digital, especially for prospective students. 
  • Social: Facebook and Instagram are increasingly core parts of the digital marketing mix.
  • Radio and TV: Colleges and universities use these mediums to target potential donors, people of influence, business partners, and to reinforce their presence to other audiences and the community

Why Public Media? 

Public radio provides:

  • Access to key audience segments, especially people of Influence including the instructors/professors who teach. These are important constituents for higher ed.
  • Brand trust: The public radio halo effect is strong.
  • Community visibility
  • Storytelling expertise

Top Takeaway

While ROI can be hard for public media to prove, helping universities and colleges build brand and community visibility among a quality audience of influentials is right in our wheelhouse.

Public media is a viable marketing buy for our higher ed clients, in part because podcasting and other digital storytelling has increased our engagement and credibility with Millennials. That’s not to say we can be a one-stop-shop for these clients necessarily, but we offer important pieces of their marketing mix that they aren’t getting elsewhere.

Download Underwriting ROI research slides >>>

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