Let prospective students tour colleges THEIR way

Remember in 2016 when college marketing and admissions teams learned about Pokémon Go? Yes, you’re probably saying. And, why is this relevant?

It isn’t.

Except that, we really discovered was the power, and relevancy, of augmented reality to engage students.

Institutions are run by adults who seek to recruit — mostly 18–23 year old students. We spend a significant amount of time and fiscal resources trying to provide engaging experiences, differentiate our institution, and stay relevant.

Allow me to make an assumption: the majority of colleges realize that the campus tour is where…


Institutions decide on commencement ceremonies

Remember when the biggest worry of a commencement co-chair was pronouncing student names?

Oh, the days.

Spring commencement — what was once routine tradition, is now at the center of heated discussions.

For months, commencement committees across the country engaged in planning and re-planning, while monitoring the CDC guidelines.

None of us knew where we’d end up by May so we were once again saddled with our newest tradition in higher education — scenario planning.

I’ll leave the internal politics at the door for now so the light can dimly shine on what committee members grappled with during planning.

From my vantage point, there are three significant factors to account for.


What higher ed marketers need to know

Most of us took at least one marketing course during our undergraduate years or through continued education post-graduation. However, it may have been years since you’ve sat, crusty-eyed in your 8:30 am Principle of Marketing class, so allow me to level set.

Marketing is not just sales, nor is it only about the production of products. Marketing is a beautiful blend of art and business with a focus on current and future customers. …


Welcome to the treasure trove of Higher Education Twitter hashtags

Always searching for the trendy hashtag that will make your institution’s content “go viral?” Waking in the middle of the night wondering if you’ve missed big news? Discovering endless threads of discussion you didn’t know existed?

Well, by golly! You’ve come to the right place.

Cheesiness aside, if your job description includes digital marketing, public relations, social media, or communications, you know it’s challenging to keep up with an ever-changing social media.

The expectations for your institution to remain relevant, contribute to thoughtful discussion, and avoid self-tackling by creating a crisis are real.

These expectations are stress inducing and daunting…


By 2020, Gartner analysts predicted that AI would be in nearly every new software product and service.

If you’re from an industry, e.g. higher education, or work at a small-medium size business or marketing agency where the thought of tackling AI makes your head explode…saddle up.

Marketing technologies, in particular, can be overwhelming especially when these continue to evolve. It takes a commitment to the “craft” to ensure you’re up to speed on tools that will drive business goals, but it can be done.

Prior to working in higher education, I was at several marketing agencies helping clients with marketing…


Spring is a time of renewal. The Cherry Blossoms are in full bloom, the Mountain Laurels deliver their famous grape Kool-Aid scent, and 18-year-olds across the country lay awake wondering if they’ll be admitted to their first-choice college.

Yes, Spring is the season for hope and new beginnings, but it is also the time when financial aid and scholarship awards paint a fuller picture of students’ college options. It’s in the springtime that the spectrum of emotions are felt — from anger and disappointment to pride and elation.

Congratulations! You have been accepted to the class of 2025.


In the higher education business, spring is a time of hope, new beginnings, and renewal.

Believe it or not, institutions are recruiting the class of 2026, admitting new students who will begin the fall 2021 semester, and returning to a COVID-19 hybrid or fully online learning environment.

If you work in higher education marketing or enrollment, you’ve hopefully discussed the approach to recruitment materials this year.

Should your recruitment marketing reflect what your institution was pre-COVID-19 , what your institution is like now, or what you hope it will become in the next normal?

For returning students, they’ve already weathered…


‘Twas the night before the Inauguration and all through the house, all the social media managers were drinking and forgetting their whereabouts.

Hootsuite and Sprout were planned out to a tee, while knowing the shit would hit the fan…you’ll see.

Their bosses were calm, no anxiety in sight, but the social media gurus were prepping for “fight or flight.”

When all of the sudden, a phone notification comes through, it’s happening! We’ve been tagged. Now, what do we do?

Rush to the handle to see what was said, scroll through the comments to read them with dread.

The comments and…


As I steadily march toward age 35, I decided to refresh my recollection of the 20, 40, 60 rule. Attributed to the actress Shirley MacLaine, the rule says:

“At 20, you are constantly worrying about what other people think of you. At 40 you say, ‘I’m not going to give a damn what other people think anymore.’ And at 60 you realize no one is thinking about you at all.”

Let’s dissect this notion.

What we feel in our 20s seems accurate. As someone who works at a university and interacts with 20 year olds, I can say it’s a rare bird to find…


You’ve heard 2020 referred to as “unprecedented,” “surreal,” “unpredictable,” and “a dumpster fire.” I can’t think of an industry left unscathed from the effects of a pandemic, societal unrest, or political uncertainty. Higher education was certainly not immune from 2020. It was already on a burning platform and COVID forced a reckoning we hoped to postpone for a few more years.

As a year concludes, especially one as tangled as 2020, it is important for a brand to pause, to pull back and to tell its story for that year.

A year in review video is the route to take. These videos, however, are challenging to create because at universities, so much happens annually — from speaking events to annual activities to the one-of-a-kind circumstances.

Not all institutions produce…

Michelle Bartonico

Senior Strategist and Project Manager at Trinity University. I write about higher education, marketing, project management, and a few wild hair topics.

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