If you’re not listening to podcasts, you’re missing out on a way to get great ideas and action plans from your higher education marketing peers around the country. What’s more, you can multitask by listening on your commute, a jog, or while getting things done around the house (I’ve learned a lot painting my living room!). I listen to these five podcasts and would recommend them for higher education marketers or anyone interested in higher education enrollment.
My #5 Pick: FIR Podcast on Higher Education PR
PRODUCER: For Immediate Release Podcast Network
FORMAT: Hosted by Kevin Anselmo, Founder and CEO of Experiential Communications, training higher ed communications pros and others to communicate their stories effectively and be thought leaders. Average podcast length around 30 minutes.
CONTENT: Billed as “marketing and communications insights for the higher education community.” Typically an interview with one or more C-level PR, marketing or other relevant professionals (not necessarily in higher ed), this podcast is rather erudite but is an enlightening collection of insights from people whom other podcasters may not think to interview. The host’s questions are well-informed and move the interview along efficiently, which I always appreciate. At the end the host presents a summary of a research report relevant to the episode. Topics include: How to communicate an institution’s brand depending whether it is based on prestige or reputation; Public relations opportunities around higher education events; and Monitoring the brand of your institution, industry, competitors and audiences across the media.
TECHNICALITIES: Professionally produced, no ads except the host’s modest self-plug at the end. However, a few episodes’ audio is panned to the extremes, so the host is heard on the right and the guest is on the left. This makes it hard to hear in the car and a jarring experience using earbuds. Otherwise, the sound quality could sometimes use compression but is clear and professionally recorded.
RECOMMENDED FOR: Higher ed PR professionals and leadership. Higher ed marketing professionals may get peripheral or big picture ideas but not as many specific tips.
My # 4 Pick: Hey Bob, It’s Eric.
PRODUCER: Stamats, veteran higher ed marketing thinktank agency
FORMAT: Hosted by two longtime Stamats higher-ups: Thorburn Group (parent to Stamats) VP Eric Sickler and Bob Sevier, Stamats’ SVP of Strategy. Eric literally incurs a dial tone and possibly long distance charges to call Bob and ask thought-provoking questions about the current and future status of higher ed leadership, strategy and marketing. Each episode is an easily chewable 5-9 minutes long.
CONTENT: Short on actionable tips for marketers, this podcast takes more of the 20-30,000 foot view, pondering questions such as “Is a college degree worth the cost?” [We discuss Gerenation Z’s pondering college here.] and “What should the senior team of a college/university do to improve the institution’s marketability?” Discussions tend to center around priorities and strategy in today’s economic and higher education environment, sometimes touching on how that circles back to marketing.
TECHNICALITIES: The wispy, voice-over-internet-phone production can use a lot of improvement, but the episodes are very short with no ads. The authenticity and talking points of the discussions between Bob and Eric are compelling.
RECOMMENDED FOR: Higher education C-level leadership, board members.
My #3 Pick: The College Marketing Podcast
FORMAT: Hosted by Jonathan Medford, founding partner of CollegeInbound.com, managing websites and inbound marketing for community colleges. Average podcast length 35 minutes.
CONTENT: A fairly new podcast, with only 7 episodes since its launch in November 2015. Medford interviews community college marketing professionals about management, enrollment marketing, social media use, website considerations, and more. He’s a good interviewer who chooses very insightful guests. He tends to begin by asking about his guests’ background, which always reveals a great story and gives listeners insight into the rich expertise of these marketing professionals. He explores case studies and their outcomes, specific action plans, useable tips, and what marketing tools his guests find most valuable.
TECHNICALITIES: Professionally produced and mixed. Ads spoken at the beginning. Good sound quality.
RECOMMENDED FOR: The community college marketing professional, on the management or team level, but some of the content of these interviews can also be applied to four-year college marketers on the same level.
# 2 Higher Ed Live
PRODUCER: MStoner, higher education marketing and communications firm
FORMAT: Various hosts. Usually consists of the audio of a live webinar broadcast several times a week. Sometimes broadcasts of talk sessions. Each episode is around an hour long and typically feature interviews with knowledgeable guests.
CONTENT: Case studies of specific marketing campaigns, such as maximizing social media use to introduce a new president or how to connect alumni to new student send-offs. They also tackle general administrative issues such as “Are Your Meetings Broken?” “Getting $#!% Done in a Change Adverse Environment,” plus campus PR, admissions challenges, student affairs, and pretty much any topic that might concern anyone who works in higher ed. Diving heavily into each topic, their interviewees are top notch and well prepared. They bring actionable tips and/or data and research to back information.
TECHNICALITIES: Somewhat professionally produced. Ads plugging Higher Ed Live, MStoner and their offerings are at the beginning. Sound is clear and equalized between the host and guests, as the audio is typically taken from a webinar.
RECOMMENDED FOR: Depending on the episode, higher education C-Level leadership, board members, marketing, student affairs, admissions, administrators, faculty, anyone with an hour to focus on higher ed topics of interest to your role or department.
And My # 1 Higher Ed Marketing Podcast Pick: University Social Pro: Social Media & Digital
PRODUCER: Chris Alexander
FORMAT: Hosted by Chris Alexander, veteran digital marketer who helped propel the success of New York University’s Robert F. Wagner Graduate School of Public Service. Average listening time 35 minutes.
CONTENT: By far the best higher ed marketing podcast right now. Chock-full of great energy, priceless ideas and the most current inside info, delivered by interviews with some of the country’s top college marketers. With queries like “If you had more resources, where would you put those and why?”, Alexander answers the most burning questions of today’s higher education marketers via his brilliantly compelling, edgy guests. Student Life Communication Coordinator Kellen Manning of MIT tells the story of Piano Drop week, where he assigned multiple cameras from every angle feeding every relevant social media channel, to cover the pushing of a candy-and confetti-filled old piano off the top of a dorm. Veteran enrollment marketer and Higher Ed Live Founder Seth Odell drops this gem advice for getting your own awesome ideas approved by your board: “Pitch plans, not ideas.” He goes on to tell the story of how he got approval as AVP of Marketing at Southern New Hampshire University for a cross-country diploma-delivery bus tour which went on to become virally successful.
TECHNICALITIES: Professionally produced, excellent sound quality.
RECOMMENDED FOR: Higher ed marketing professionals on every level, for the wildly inspirational ideas as well as the superb guests and street-wise tips and tricks.
It’s 2017. How well do you know your prospective students and what they want?
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About Kaley Shorter
A creative in her own right, Kaley has tapped years of journalism, CRM management, inbound marketing and customer experience shaping to launch Parisleaf’s blog to international recognition in less than four months. Kaley still makes it home in time for dinner with the family, disc golf and rocking out on stage at the piano.