Teachers – the forgotten audience
Most student recruitment marketing campaigns are designed to reach – surprise, surprise – potential students.
University marketing teams put a lot of thought into understanding potential students as an audience. There’s talk about Generation Z and Millenials, and the platforms they favour. There’s thought put into where a student is in the recruitment cycle, or how far they’ve got on their ‘journey’. There are focus groups with current students, and conferences with panels of real live young people to interrogate.
Occasionally, the planning process might include consideration of these students’ influencers. Some universities produce guides for parents, and many have information specifically designed the for educational agents assisting international students with their applications.
But what about teachers?
For many students, a Tutor or Head of Sixth Form will be one of the most influential voices in their decision to apply to university, giving guidance on where and what to study, and how to apply. Yet the information provided by universities for teachers is often minimal.
It’s time to change that. Here are three top tips for producing effective content aimed at teachers:
1. Look beyond institutional silos
Who in your university is communicating directly with teachers? Bear in mind it might not be the marketing department. Try to think as broadly as possible about the different possible touchpoints. You could start by thinking about:
– Your outreach or schools liaison team
– Your admissions team
– Any academics that have direct relationships with local schools
– Current students who go back to their own schools to talk about their experiences of university study
– Alumni who are now teachers themselves
Work out who is currently involved, regardless of what team they’re in. Get everyone together in one room and pool your knowledge. Try to map what you are doing now, and get an overview of the communications – official and unofficial, institutional and personal – that are currently going out from the university to schools and teachers. How consistent is it in terms of information, style and tone? Taken together, what impression does it give of the university?
Time to do some audience research. We’ve heard of some universities that invite local teachers onto campus for annual focus groups. It’s a great way to get direct feedback on what you’re doing, and to get a better understanding of what else you could be doing. Bear in mind though that teachers are short on time, so you might need to offer some kind of incentive to guarantee good attendance. Based on what you learn, you could consider creating personas or empathy maps to help you translate audience needs into new content ideas.
If you need a bit of additional expertise to make your research really effective, get in touch with us to see how we can help.
3. Make it useful and usable
At Pickle Jar Communications we say this all the time, and it definitely applies here. Teachers need useful and usable content. They are busy dealing with students, planning lessons and tacking mountains of marking. Whatever content you plan, it need to make their lives easier and help them to do their jobs.
Thankfully universities, as educational institutions, are sitting on a goldmine of information and advice to help teachers communicate complex topics to students in an engaging way. Find your most inspiring teachers and pedagogical experts, and develop resources that will actually be useful in the classroom.
– An oldie but a goodie, the University of Nottingham’s Periodic Videos are loved by science teachers across the country.
– Newcastle University has developed a searchable Teachers’ Toolkit packed with free resources, including worksheets, games, powerpoint presentations and interactive activities.
– Lancaster University loans schools physical and digital Research in a Box kits with cutting-edge equipment they can use in the classroom.
What are you doing for teachers? We’d love to hear about your innovative ideas for reaching this sometimes forgotten audience group.