Red Bull wants to establish and maintain an image of its company in the eyes of its potential consumers. It wants to exude an aura of confidence and risk-taking. It also wants to stay top of mind with its customers, and knows that by having a content strategy of focusing on extreme sports athletes, hopefully these same individuals will become brand ambassadors, as they are also likely to be trend setters among a younger age demographic.
Content marketing is starting to become more popular in higher ed. Annual giving and alumni relations departments are typically focused on immediate goals (raising attendance at reunion, obtaining a certain percentage goal in alumni participation rate, etc.), and as such their strategies and budgetary decisions are driven by these goals. However, there is value in creating some content that simply builds brand awareness, recognition and loyalty.
Michigan State has been working on creating content that helps to promote the MSU brand. “Spartans Will. 360” was the President’s Report created in 2013, but it was unlike most, if not every, typical President’s Report put out by a major college of university. The digital report combined in-depth, touching stories showing how MSU was contributing to the world, or as Lou Anna Simon, President of MSU stated in the report, “to advance the common good, in uncommon ways”. There are stories about faculty and students who are making a difference in MSU’s backyard by creating a new heart monitor, finding ways to detect Parkinson’s Disease, and growing new industries in Michigan; but there are also great stories showing MSU’s international impact: finding energy in the refuse of Costa Rica, working with India’s educators to make them better teachers, and protecting China’s pandas.
Georgetown has also been at the forefront of higher ed content marketing. The school’s Georgetown Stories program (www.georgetownstories.com) brings student stories direct to alumni, parents, friends and prospective students. What is unique about this program is that Georgetown finds students who are willing and capable of managing their own production schedule, shooting their own videos and editing those videos into short, digestible pieces that can be easily shared on social media. The videos are focused. There are a variety of categories, including Academics, Jobs/Internships, Daily Life and Service, to name a few. Again, there is no ask at the end of the video, and there really is no push to make a donation, or apply to a program, or request more information on the Georgetown Stories site, it is simply about connecting more people with the University.
Ultimately, the more connected and engaged our alumni feel, the more likely they are to make a gift. These videos all do a great job of keeping that connection alive. Many alumni do not have a chance to come back to campus each year, but watching these videos helps alums experience the very best that their alma mater has to offer right now. And, because of the way each of these video campaigns was created, the videos can serve multiple purposes. They can be used by Admissions, by Public Relations, by the Alumni Association, in addition to being beneficial to annual giving.
Key Questions to Ask:
-What content marketing materials and tools do you have available for your annual giving campaigns?
-Are there existing content marketing pieces being created by other departments that you can leverage?
-How can you work across departments to create a content marketing campaign?
-What stories are out there that need to be told?
-Does your school have a story bank that you can pull ideas from?
-Can you create a campaign where students are utilized to create the content?