Christmas is coming… Time to start planning your Christmas communications

By Posted in - Content Marketing on September 25th, 2015 0 Comments

There are 90 days to go until Christmas, and whilst we start berating the shops for stocking Christmas gifts, cards and decorations too early, it’s a good reminder that it’s not too early to start planning your Christmas communications (if you haven’t already!).

It’s all too easy to leave your planning too late before realising there’s no time for creativity, and quickly knocking together an animated snow scene with a generic “Seasons Greetings” message.

Maybe some people enjoy receiving these e-cards in their inbox (I’m not sure who?!) but how much better is it to receive something that is personal, thoughtful, creative and entertaining from your university? Something that reminds people why they chose your institution and what they loved about it.

A Christmas greeting like that will live long after the last Quality Street has been devoured. And so you may think it’s a bit early but we’ve put together a few tips to help you with your Christmas planning, and a few of our favourite Christmas greetings that we continue to remember for previous years.

Tip #1: Think about who you are sending your greeting to. Can you create something that appeals to their interests and emotions?

Understanding your audience, and what appeals to them is key to getting your content noticed (and remembered). Think about your audience and what interests them or resonates with them. It might be cultural or intellectual preferences, geographical references (depending on where your institution is located), or iconic campus features.

The University of Oxford have made great use of their heritage and educational assets to create their recent Christmas greetings featuring the Ashmolean Museum and the National History Museum, Oxford. Graduates and current students will recognise these cultural institutions and you can’t fail to admire the production quality of these video greetings.


Tip #2: Look to your campus for inspiration

In this more traditional Christmas card, Imperial College have taken a scientific slant on their iconic campus landmarks, appealing to their audiences’ love of science and technology and making it into a game.

Imperial Christmas Card

Imperial College London Christmas Card

Now I may be going back a few years with this one, but I still love this Christmas Greeting that I helped develop whilst working at the University of Warwick back in 2010. Combining campus buildings with key messages about the year’s successes and competitions for people to take part in created a fun Christmas greeting that appealed to staff, students and friends of the University.

University of Warwick Christmas Greeting

University of Warwick Christmas Greeting

Tip #3: Make it experiential 

Christmas is a great time to bring your campus community together, so why not do just that and combine it with your christmas communications.

Last year, Carroll University lit up one of their iconic campus buildings in a visual spectacular for staff and students on campus.

Meanwhile, the Faculty of Environment at the University of Waterloo surprised students by organising a festive celebration for the end of the term.

And Virginiga Commonwealth University created their holiday greeting by asking members of their campus community to spread random acts of kindness at Christmas time.

Tip #4: Make it last throughout December

With the tradition of advent, the run up to Christmas lasts throughout December, so think about how you can produce daily content in the style of an advent calendar.

Gonzaga University in Washington created a calendar with daily gifts of desktop wallpapers, designs for colouring in, and a cut-out of their University mascot Spike combined with messages about fundraising, scholarship and an advent prayer reflecting their Christian values.

Gonzaga University Christmas Calendar

Gonzaga University Christmas Calendar

Edinburgh College of Art (University of Edinburgh) decided to make the most of their student talents by revealing a short video each day from students studying animation. Each video is fantastic in it’s own right, but combined as an advent calendar is even better.

ECA Animation Advent Calendar

ECA Animation Advent Calendar

In our final example, the University of Nottingham have combined a number of our tips: using their campus; making it experiential; and spreading it across the advent season with their “AdVine” Calendar. It was good to see them also experimenting with new tools such as Vine.

Tip #5: Do your research, see what others have done and borrow ideas

Hopefully by reading this blog post we’ve inspired a few ideas for your coming Christmas greeting.

We have written a couple of blog posts in the past rounding up some of our favourite Christmas greetings and you might also want to check-out the collegewebeditor holiday greeting round up for inspiration.

And remember, you don’t always have to come up with something totally new or different – it’s ok to borrow and adapt ideas, it’s how you put your own institution’s stamp on it that’s important!

We’re looking forward to seeing what you all come up with and in the meantime, we will be having our own Christmas communications meeting at Pickle Jar HQ! Bring on the mince pies!

If you need help planning your Christmas communications – get in touch! And don’t leave it until the 30th November!

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