Even PhDs have a thing or two to learn about content marketing.
As any teacher will tell you, having great ideas is one thing — but being able to communicate them to a classroom full of students is another. The same holds true with content marketing. It’s not enough just to collect statistics on why your institution outperforms its competition; you have to actually demonstrate your expertise. Here’s how branded content can help transform your marketing strategy and improve your relationship with prospective students, alumni, and donors alike.
Brand Publishing 101: The Benefits of Branded Content
If you want to attract the best and the brightest (and let’s be honest, who doesn’t?), you need to effectively communicate how your institution can help high achievers reach their full potential. Higher ed institutions can best communicate their value proposition by sharing stories of successful students and university-backed initiatives. After all, as your English teacher always told you, it’s better to show and not tell. By collecting testimonials from those involved in the programs you’re aiming to promote, you will convey a more authentic story that resonates with like-minded individuals — e.g., your target audience.
The branded content you produce should emphasize your institution’s role in student (and faculty) success, whether that’s achieved by providing networking opportunities, hosting workshops and lectures, granting funding, or even just cultivating collaborative, creative environments to spur innovative thinking. This type of branded content can establish your school as the preeminent authority within your field of study, and the potential benefits are tangible: greater visibility for your school, higher enrollment numbers, and more generous donations.
Making the Most of Your Content
There are a number of ways higher ed institutions can engage with brand publishing to help them make the most out of their content. Conducting Q&As with faculty members and alumni who are really making a difference in their fields, for instance, is a great way to increase community engagement. Articles that showcase university-sponsored research projects (or simply those that faculty members are involved with) are also a good way to boost interest in your school — as are posts about upcoming campus events.
While you’re writing, remember that it’s a good idea to weave an SEO element into your work — for example, if you are a social work school, write an article on a common query, such as “How to Tell if Your Child Has PTSD,” and interview a preeminent faculty expert on the subject to lend credence to the article. You’ll not only cast a wider net, but you’ll also pique the interest of those not currently considering a career in social work but who are interested in learning more.
Taking Notes From the Pros
There are plenty of excellent examples of higher ed institutions excelling in the content marketing arena — take Columbia Entrepreneurship, for example. Outside of the frequent features that highlight the school’s seriously impressive alumni, Columbia also uses the site to notify alumni and interested community members about upcoming panels and events.
Similarly, the USC Suzanne Dworak-Peck School of Social Work uses its brand publication to inform readers about upcoming events and provide a more in-depth understanding of pertinent issues, often summarizing technical research in a way that appeals to a broader readership. After all, when you’re promoting your college or university, you don’t just want to be reaching out to other professors — you want potential students and community members alike to understand the true value of the resources you bring to the table.
Longneck and Thunderfoot offer brand publishing services and strategies to transform your company blog into a sophisticated trade publication that drives visibility and influence in your market. Learn more about brand publishing here.