At the onset of the surge of COVID-19 in the US, colleges and universities across the nation were faced with quick decision-making. Messages were formed and disseminated to parents and students as quickly as possible, and within days campuses went from being open to closed with classes moving online.
In the face of this unprecedented disruption to higher education, what you communicate to your students has never been more important. In our hurry to react and respond to current news and government mandates, how should we be crafting our messages to foster affinity and confidence?
The most effective communications are those that seek to connect with audiences on a real, human level. It’s not just communicating facts that’s important; it’s about fostering deeper and more meaningful connections. This is the key to effective communication. But how can colleges and universities do that?
Know your story
Every institution has a story, a unique DNA and reason for being that is unlike any other school. What’s yours? Who are you today and who will you be tomorrow? What kind of personality and character do students encounter when they commit to you? When you understand your institution’s story, you can begin to message it as more than a repository of facts and offerings but as a human being. Humans relate best to other humans, so treat your institution as one.
Know your students
How well do you know the psychographics of your prospective and current students? What are their primary interests? What drives them? And what part of your story attracts them? By knowing the primary profiles of your student groups, you can fashion your messaging to speak to what’s important to them, ensuring that the right students are getting the right messages every time.
Know your students. Know your unique voice. Now more than ever, when a real pandemic is affecting real lives and necessitating real changes to your next steps, it’s important to take the time to deliver emotive messaging—not only to your current students but to your prospective ones too. Rather than delivering mere facts and news, try telling a story—your story—and take time to enter their story. While we have to physically social distance from each other, we can still connect in deeper, relevant, and more meaningful ways through our messaging.