Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Campus adapts communication endeavors to better engage with its audiences

The campus' communications and marketing efforts are focused on connecting with students on their terms.

Ohio University-Chillicothe’s marketing and communications efforts are continuing to pursue approaches that allow the campus to better engage with its target audiences. Among recent initiatives are efforts to better utilize social media to become more interactive and better connected with current and prospective students.

For example, communications with students have focused more on videos posted to the campus’ YouTube channel. These video pieces highlight and feature unique aspects of campus life, such as the opportunity to relocate to the Athens campus, life on a commuter campus, opportunities to get involved in activities outside of the classroom and tips on adjusting to campus life. Upcoming projects will address the impact of community service and the mix of traditional and non-traditional students on campus.

The video clips speak to students on their terms and in a medium they find more engaging than print copy. Further they emphasize topics of interest to this important audience and feature the insights and stories of OU-C students, taking advantage of the benefits of peer interaction and ensuring the credibility of the messages.

Student employees Megan Valentine and Madison Corbin, both students in the Scripps College of Journalism, have been instrumental in the social media and video efforts. Valentine’s talents are primarily in writing and social media use, while Corbin is a gifted video producer. These endeavors are designed to support the ongoing efforts by Student Services in communicating with students in support both student-recruitment and retention. Having current university students produce the videos helps to ensure the student-focused approach of the communication endeavors.

An added benefit of showcasing our current students in the videos is that it allows for ongoing dialogue with our students and gaining their perspective on the campus experience. From these conversations, campus communication and marketing efforts become more authentic, and connections with students -- both current and prospective OU-C learners -- are deepened.

Further, the peer communication aspect of the videos incorporates a theme that is an important component of the overall Chillicothe Campus experience.

The effort was undertaken to build on current strategies, such as the campus news blog, which continues to serve as the flagship of OU-C communication efforts. After performing an analysis to determine the topics that seemed to resonate with OU-C’s audience and themes that needed more coverage on the blog, Valentine and Corbin worked to create series-style stories and pieces with coordinating videos to keep readers coming back to the page. Corbin’s videos highlight the opportunities available on the Chillicothe Campus and address concerns that may be in the minds of future OU-C students.

In this way, the communication efforts are cohesive, in terms of message, while various platforms are used to segment the audience. For example, an interesting dynamic of OU-C is the nearly equal blend of traditional and non-traditional students. This causes a need for various communication avenues, including both traditional and emerging media, so that the communication channels are as diverse as the individuals pursuing their college careers on the Chillicothe Campus.

In response to the results of a recent communication survey of OU-C students, the campus has added an Instagram account to its social media outlets. The site, which mainly features photographic images, provides a snapshot of the Chillicothe Campus, both figuratively and literally. It can be viewed at http://instagram.com/ouchillicothe/.

All of these efforts work toward a goal of supporting OU-C’s mission of preparing students for the challenges of tomorrow and providing service to Chillicothe and the surrounding region.

See the videos produced in association with the new communications strategy on the OU-C YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCz3G19qPK9MujodCWfjYiVw

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