4 wishes for alumni communications from recent graduates

By Posted in - Alumni Relations & Research on March 1st, 2018 0 Comments

Graduation. The time to fly the university nest, to take a year out, to step into the “real world” of full-time employment – the possibilities go on and on.

And with that comes a entirely new (and very unfamiliar) relationship with the university that, let’s face it, was basically your second home for three years. We’ve blogged a while back about alumni engagement journeys and how it’s really important for universities to connect with recent graduates and engage them from the very beginning of their alumni journey.

But let’s not forget that graduates are all different – some may still be clinging on to those good ol’ student days, whilst others may wish to move on from university entirely. This is certainly not a one-size-fits-all type of relationship. So what do graduates (as diverse as we all are) actually want from alumni communications?

As the youngest member of the Pickle Jar team and a recent graduate myself, I decided to talk to a few friends and fellow graduates to get a sense of what we actually want from university communications. Here’s what I found…

Keeping graduates in-the-loop

“I’d want to know… how the university has changed – I only found out about the rebrand by seeing it on Instagram. I would have liked an email about that and the reasons why”.

The transition from student to graduate can mean that often graduates feel out of the loop with what’s going on at the university. In this case, one graduate expressed how they felt forgotten and excluded when the university launched a major rebrand without sending updates to alumni.

It’s important to identify these diverse types of alumni and understand the content preferences of each. Which graduates are interested in university updates? Which graduates would prefer only practical careers information? This is where research and audience insights can really help to distinguish these alumni audiences.

Supporting graduates in post-university endeavours

“[Careers] opportunities because after uni you feel like you’re left to your own devices and have no idea where to start”.

It’s been a few months now since I’ve graduated university. And I must admit, at first, it can be quite daunting for those of us graduates who have chosen the nine to five life after graduation. It was positive to see that this feeling was almost entirely mutual amongst fellow graduates. When asked what would be of most interest after university, careers advice came up almost every time.

Graduates want support and guidance on careers possibly more so than they had wanted during university – and this can really work in favour for universities. Careers information is useful, practical and relevant content for recent graduates just starting out in graduates schemes and jobs. It’s content that is actually usable for graduates.

Relevant content to reach unengaged graduates

I’d rather they stop emailing me… all the emails are annoying and not useful in any way”.

A couple of graduates expressed that they had no interest in alumni communications. Some graduates will feel that the university is no longer relevant to them after graduation, and move on from this part of their journey. These audiences will be easier to identify as the GDPR comes into play and opt-ins will be clear signs of consent and interest in receiving your communications.

It’s also worthwhile finding out what these unengaged audiences would want to see (if anything) from you – perhaps they don’t currently find your communications interesting because it’s not relevant to them, and maybe they would respond more positively if there was something more targeted available.

Personalising content for diverse alumni audiences

“If they would send us a survey and we could tick what post uni things we are interested in and they would email us relevant stuff for that”.

Personalisation is key to alumni engagement – and identifying content preferences for your alumni audiences will really help with the effectiveness of your communications. As discussed above, graduates go on to multiple different career paths, to different levels of study and so on. Receiving generic email invitations to MBA information sessions distances us further away from the university who should really understand where we’re heading and what we’d need along the way. Content that is specifically relevant to our course, our job, our industry or our career stage will interest and engage us so much more than impersonal invitations to university events or mass newsletters.

We should be shifting the focus from what the university wants to share to what graduates actually want to see. Universities will need to put processes in place to identify and tailor the types of content that alumni audiences may be interested. And the best way to do this? Ask them. Whether that be in the form of surveys or in depth audience research – we can help with that. After all, if not all graduates are the same, why should their communications be?

If you need help with alumni engagement or creating useful and usable content for your alumni audiences, let’s have a chat. We’d love to help.

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