Clearing 2015 – Creating A Campaign That Works

By Posted in - Audience engagement journey & Campaigns & Clearing & Events & Higher Education & Omniplatform & Online Video & Pickle Jar Communications' Projects & Social Media & Strategy and Planning & Student Marketing & Student Recruitment & University on June 8th, 2015 0 Comments

It’s August 13th, 2015. Results day is here. Thousands of young people around the country will be frantically signing in to UCAS to see if their ‘conditional’ offer has been changed to ‘accepted’. For many, this will be a day of elation at receiving the required grades for the course they have applied for. But for some, there is disappointment when they don’t receive the grades they need, and others face uncertainty when they exceed their expected grades and can now consider going elsewhere.

Clearing and Adjustment gives prospective students an opportunity to consider studying at an alternative university (as well as offering universities a chance to advertise their remaining places). But with so little time to make a decision, how can universities help students make an informed decision?

In this post, I will share some examples of some successful Clearing campaigns from over the years and look at why these approaches worked so well.

Empower those going through Clearing

Clearing can be an anxious and uncertain time, so it’s important for universities to be positive and welcoming in their campaign to these prospective students. A nice example of this was shown by Falmouth University in 2012 for their ‘We Saved You A Place’ campaign. The messaging encouraged the students not to worry and that the University staff were there to make the experience easier. The design and illustrations also contributed to the sense of belonging that Falmouth were trying to communicate. This became Falmouth’s most successful Clearing campaign to date.

Keep it simple

When you have to make an important decision fairly quickly, it is desirable for the process to be as simple as possible. Clearing has a reputation amongst young people of being complicated. Teesside University have considered this with their campaign ‘Clearing Made Simple’ – which has been designed to assure the prospective students that there is no need for the process to be complicated at all. Complete with a simple website design and clearly branded advertisements, this approach is encouraging to those who may be nervous about how complex Clearing will be.

Get in there early

Preparation for Clearing begins long before results day and should be a fundamental part of your main student recruitment campaign strategy. The #IAMIN campaign created by Loughborough University last year was a great example of this. This campaign encouraged those who had accepted offers to Loughborough to pose for a selfie with the ‘snapshot’ card frame that was sent through in their offer pack. On the card frame, a message was included asking them to recommend Loughborough to their friends and directed them to their Clearing website. Loughborough also created a large amount of buzz around this campaign during Clearing, using various PR and online tactics. The campaign generated over 51,000 unique external website visits and had a huge impact on student recruitment during Clearing.

Results day and Clearing can form the start of induction, Loughborough continued the campaign well into when the students arrived, using the hashtags #IAMHERE and #WEAREHERE.

Use a more targeted approach

During Clearing in 2012, Newcastle University took a much more ‘under the radar’ approach to finding students who had just missed out on their first choice. Sophisticated Twitter searches were undertaken, not just simply searching for ‘Clearing’ but looking for prospective students with more subtle phrasing and comments about their results.

This complimented the #Gannin2Ncl social media campaign affectionately used Geordie slang and language to add that ‘homely’ feel to prospective students during the Clearing process. ‘Shy Bairns Get Nowt!’ was the tagline for Clearing, which is an instantly identifiable and unique phrase to Newcastle Upon Tyne.

Make it personal

In keeping with ensuring your Clearing campaign is friendly and welcoming, why not throw in some personalisation? University of Birmingham produced a video to send out to those who had accepted a place during their Clearing campaign #hellobrum. The video featured scenes such as a news reporter announcing the arrival of a special new student, a welcome banner, and existing students expressing excitement about the news. The personalisation was simple, each new student’s name was inserted into three separate parts of the video, and it was incredibly effective with many students sharing their personalised video on Facebook or Twitter. University of Birmingham have continued to personalise different materials within this campaign.

Be different

Campaigns need to grab people’s attention and be noticed in order to do a good job. A terrific way to do this is to create something a bit different and out of the ordinary. A good (if slightly older) example is from the University of Lincoln – who enlisted the help of then student Thomas Ridgewell, who had previously created unofficial adverts about the university, to produce a clearing video with his own unique style. The video received over 133,000 views on YouTube – evidence that this approach (if executed well) can generate awareness of Clearing.


Do you need some help getting your Clearing campaign off of the ground? We can help. Get in touch.

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