4 Ways to Get Faculty Involved in Your Marketing Strategy
When prospective students look at a school, they consider a number of things: tuition costs, campus life, geography, academic reputation, mission, and more. And while your marketing office plays a large role in painting a compelling and authentic picture of your school’s offerings, it’s always better if you can recruit others to do it for you: alumni, students, and even faculty.
Faculty are an extremely important aspect of any school’s community and academic environment. They are the ones students will be interacting with on a weekly basis for the entire length of their time in school. That’s why it’s important to find ways to leverage their help in marketing your school. While this can be tough (faculty can be notoriously busy and not always amenable to marketing practices . . . ), here are four ways to get them involved in your marketing strategy.
Take Faculty Bio Pages Seriously
For anyone who has designed (or redesigned) a university website and needed faculty to complete bio pages, you know how easily these pages can fall off the radar. There are some things you can do to make it more likely that you’ll generate compelling, up-to-date bio pages.
Can you set up a campus-wide photo shoot once or twice a year to give faculty the opportunity to add a branded and friendly-looking headshot (as opposed to some blurry photo from twenty years ago)? Would it be possible to ask department chairs to remind faculty to update their bio pages each year? Can you provide training sessions to show faculty how to update and fill out these online pages?
It’s important to convey to faculty that prospective students do look at these pages when trying to figure out what kind of people they will be learning from during their college years. A faculty page with a warm, well-lit headshot and detailed information on courses taught, publications, and personal hobbies is drastically more compelling than one without a photo or any info except a link to an outdated CV.
And these pages don't need to be complex or overly designed. Here is an example of a faculty bio page from Trinity University in Texas. Dr. Kaufman has a friendly and welcoming headshot, a short bio about her background (and why she teaches), relevant publications, courses taught, links to her personal websites, and easy-to-find contact info. Encouraging faculty to spend a few minutes properly filling out their bio can go a long way in helping prospective students get a better sense of the people that make up the school’s learning community.
Find Professors Already Active Online
Some faculty wouldn’t dare use a social media account or host a website. But every university should have at least a few who already have a decent presence online. While you definitely want to make sure a faculty member is not problematically controversial or detrimental to the mission you are communicating about your school, it can be a great strategy to point prospective students to a faculty member’s already-established online presence.
Dr. Dave Cummings, a biology professor at Point Loma Nazarene University, is a great example of a faculty member who is active online. He has established his own website to help those struggling with depression and anxiety, and this provides a great opportunity for PLNU to share articles and videos from Dr. Cummings on the school’s social media accounts. Not only can this bring a helpful resource to anyone following PLNU on social media, but it is also an authentic way to reveal the type of professors who make up PLNU’s community: ones who are willing to share their gifts and insights to help others.
Give Them a Platform to Share
Some faculty would love the opportunity to answer questions or share their thoughts on the latest scientific or cultural issues. As a university filled with smart and curious people, starting a faculty podcast or granting a professor a feature column online can be a great way to display the quality of professors at your school. While you will want to recruit people who are a good fit for this type of thing (someone who can write for a public and non-academic audience, someone articulate who is comfortable speaking into a microphone, etc.), this can be a great way to get faculty involved in your marketing strategy.
When it comes to featuring the expertise of faculty, Fuller Theological Seminary is one of the best examples out there. Fuller Magazine is filled with articles and essays written explicitly by faculty. While many schools feature articles written by a faculty member here or there in their alumni magazine, Fuller’s ability to produce so much faculty-generated content clearly conveys that the institution is brimming with committed and smart thought-leaders in their faculty ranks.
Capture Them in Action
Many faculty are already doing compelling and interesting things like giving chapel talks, participating in panels, managing extracurricular clubs, and meeting regularly with students. One way to leverage their help with your marketing is to simply be aware of what they are already doing and capture it. Not only would this require little effort on the part of the faculty member (always a plus!), but you then also have complete control over what exactly you promote to prospective students.
Is there a literary panel that will feature some of your English professors? A faculty member willing to be recorded during one of their classes? A faculty member giving a talk related to faith and vocation? Send your office’s video producer to film scenarios like this, to show prospective students what your professors are like.
Of course, this means you need to become aware of what faculty are doing, and preparing to capture them accordingly requires some internal resources and planning. But it can be well worth it. And once faculty see that you’re promoting what other professors are already doing, they might start preemptively reaching out to inform you about additional events, talks, or opportunities for you to capture and promote to prospective students.
Your school’s faculty is one of your greatest assets. And since they’re most likely there because they love the school, too, you may find them more eager to get involved than you expected.