Top 5 things I learnt at CEAC 2019
Over a thousand Higher Education professionals visited Birmingham last week for the CASE Europe Annual Conference 2019.
Pickle Jar Communications were in attendance for the full week and we certainly kept ourselves busy!
– We offered advice, a friendly ear and fab competition prizes at our very colourful stand.
– We took part in a panel on how to work with academics.
– We delivered a talk on how to oil your creative cogs with content strategy.
– We organised an early morning run because runners make great content strategists.
– We even hosted our own social, throwing darts alongside colleagues from London, Cardiff, the Netherlands, the Caribbean and more!
CASE conferences offer a fantastic opportunity to meet colleagues from across the world, share our content challenges, and offer solutions.
I always leave with new friends and new insight. Here are the top 5 things I learnt:
1. The Podcast Boom
Dave Musson spoke about the rise of podcasts. The format has grown enormously since the format made its debut in 2003, now overtaking music streaming in popularity.
The audio format is incredibly convenient. They can be digested when running, driving, or walking the dog. This might explain why 80% of people listen to all or most of a podcast (Neilsen, 2018), whereas the average view time of video content is much lower.
Dave recommended several universities who have embraced the format effectively, so good inspiration can be found by looking at Liverpool, Cambridge, Glasgow, and Oxford, who cover topics as diverse as the student experience, research findings and alumni stories.
Dave spoke about the importance of having a plan, which could take the form of a detailed script, or loose outline, depending on the experience of your guests. He also emphasised that promotion is key, so giving marketing assets about the podcast to your guests for sharing is a great way to reach their followers.
2. Brain orgasms are a thing
Hannah Postles from the University of Sheffield spoke about their research communications on the topic of ASMR. This is the term for the sensation people get when watching stimulating videos – usually ones that involve personal attention. People describe the feeling as giving them tingles, whilst others find it deeply relaxing. The media often refers to ASMR as a brain orgasm.
Hannah explained how they approached ASMR influencers on YouTube, such as WhispersRed and Gibi, to take part in Sheffield’s research and promote the findings to their sizable audiences. As a result, Sheffield’s research video had 11,500 views in 48 hours. Their research paper had 49,000 views in one year.
Hannah’s session also got me thinking. AMRS video content is engaging and hugely popular (50 million videos on YouTube) so perhaps the same techniques could be utilised in Higher Education communications.
3. The personalisation formula
Jonny Williams from Keele shared a formula for personalisation. He spoke on finding the right balance between being helpful to our audiences with relevant and timely content, but not causing our audience to be concerned with a loss of privacy.
Jonny provided effective examples, such as Amazon, Spotify and Moonpig who make recommendations on products, songs and upcoming birthdays. They offer a helpful service, so we forgive them for knowing information about us. This ultimately builds trust and happy relationships.
Universities must also achieve this balance. Jonny gave an example of someone being encouraged to book onto an Open Day via a chatbot message when browsing an Open Day page. The chatbot clearly knows the person is browsing the page (loss of privacy) but they are presumably interested in Open Days (relevance) and they are currently on the page (timeliness), so the personalised chatbot message adds value and builds trust.
4. Giving Days
A Giving Day is a concentrated day of fundraising activity targeted at alumni, staff, students and parents. They are held chiefly through social media, though complemented by email, web and sometimes events.
There is a global day called Giving Tuesday which takes place after Cyber Monday and Black Friday, thereby serving as a philanthropic antidote to those consumerist events. But in reality, a Giving Day can take place at any time of year.
I learnt from several institutions about how effective this format can be for fundraising. Nida Januskis from INSEAD explained that they increased their Giving Day donor numbers from 717 in 2017 to 2,273 in 2019 through establishing and committing to an annual event with an impactful marketing campaign.
5. “It takes a village!”
A large team is critical to the success of a Giving Day. “It takes a village!’ explained Kat Carter from Hubbub. Expertise should be drawn on from different departments. A collaboration between alumni colleagues and the marketing department is particularly valuable in ensuring engaging and far-reaching posts.
Senior buy-in is equally key to ensure resources are available for an impactful event. When seeking support, Ruth Andrew from Solent University recommended that we approach senior colleagues with the same care and courtesy that we show our donors.
Most vital to a successful Giving Day is the involvement from donors. “Make the donor the hero,” advised Gustavo Segui from the International School of Curitiba. Championing donors through social media activity, along with their motivations for giving, is a great way to encourage them to share the content, whilst also inspiring others to donate.