Wired PR Works by Barbara Rozgonyi

Real-izing Your Virtual Identity

College Blogs | Digital Frontier Debuts | Cool PR and Marketing for Colleges

Posted by barbararozgonyi on January 29, 2007

Update 05.07.07, original post follows

The search is over . . . after visiting 6 colleges and grilling communications professors – with my daughter’s encouragement,  we have a winner. She will be attending the college that, in the end, sent the best communications all along. 

As longtime members of the University of Illinois Alumni Association, we always thought all three of our kids would wear orange and blue. So, it was hard for us to consider another state school, especially one as close as Illinois State University. In fact, I advised Phoebe not to apply.

Being the smart young lady she is, she took her guidance counselor’s advice and applied anyway. Although they don’t have a blog on the site [who really cares when they have personalized online brochures?], they have the credentials and the personal interest it took to get us both engaged on our college visit.

And, guess what? My friends who have kids at both U of I and ISU have a preference [hint: most of them like their kids better in red.] 

My takeaway from all of this? It’s not about the blog or the marketing or the video or the free Mac laptop, it’s about the right fit. If edgy college marketing is important [from the looks of this blog’s search terms it is], then personally interview the professors until you find the answers you’re looking for. One last thing . . . watch out for the personal touch, embrace it when it feels right and go with your gut. That’s from a parent’s perspective.

Now from the marketer’s side . . . after attending an Internet marketing conference last weekend, the talk is all about – blogs and online public relations [one of our specialties] and live chat and ebay and sites like Squidoo, Facebook and MySpace. To me, you’re really going after two audiences: mom and dad [i.e., the financiers/investors] and the students [i.e. the consumers].

What would I do if I were charged with conjuring up an edgy college marketing campaign? Round up the alumni and get them to talk via videos. Show more of Mom and Dad [hellooooooooo – we need our own campaign and I haven’t seen one yet], especially in you guessed it, videos. Set up your own social network. Require computers and then offer service and free virus software like ISU does. Give kids something to wear to school – a t-shirt, an iPod sleeve, a cell phone jacket? Call up the kids and talk to them. And then make another call to the parents. We let our daughter make her own decision, but refreshingly enough, she asked for our advice. Most kids are that way. One last thought . . . set up a private label video home site using the technology you’ll see at Internet Video Power. Want more ideas? Call me: 630.942.9542.

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Last week, we thought we knew where our high school senior would be headed to college next fall. Had the new zip code all memorized. But, that was before we started looking for colleges with student blogs. None of the ones on her list have any.

Why is that such a big deal? Our daughter’s plan is to major in communications. Sooooooo, shouldn’t her college be at least as edgy as, uhhhh, her mom?

After all, my kids listen to Internet marketers while they’re doing their homework; craft pretty impressive proposals when they want new gear; and they write, direct and upload movies every weekend. If my kids are immersed in learning about and using multi-media marketing communication tools here at home, chances are good lots of other kids are, too. Especially college-bound kids.

While not having a college blog won’t necessarily be a deal-breaker for us, I do want to congratulate the Ball State University students on their new gig with MediaPost. Here’s the intro I got in an email today . . .

 “Welcome to Notes From The Digital Frontier, a new weekly newsletter linking to a first-of-its-kind blog. A unique collaboration between the students of Ball State University and MediaPost, Notes is an attempt to link the world of academia — more specifically, the next generation of media-savvy undergrads — with the commercial world of Madison Avenue.”

[Note to the folks at MediaPost: Could you post this intro somewhere on the blog and say why you chose Ball State? Also, will you be rolling out this alliance at other colleges? If not, here’s a great way for an agency to partner with a college to get some favorable PR and maybe a train a few summer interns ahead of time.]

Yeah, that’s gotta look ubercool on a resume. For the record, Ball State was not on our list, but after taking a look at their site and reading the blogs, we may just be taking a quick run down to Muncie, Indiana. Will ask Phoebe when she gets home from working after school as publicity head for Picnic  . . .

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