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Have your friends or family members ever surprised you with great insight into a decision you were making or problem you were trying to solve? Maybe someone helped you with great advice on the best neighborhood for your home purchase or pushed you to chase the next challenge in your career.
It happens to me all the time. And, aside from maybe having to reluctantly relinquish the “know-it-all” crown to a friend or close relative, the results are almost always positive.
Sometimes, the knowledge or resources you seek can be surprisingly close to you. That can definitely be the case if you’re struggling to find exciting, fresh content ideas for your higher ed website.
Keeping a college site appealing to a young, digitally fluent audience is challenging work. And, sometimes it’s easy to fall in the trap of pushing out glitzy, thin content that’s perhaps too tailor-made for social media shares.
But, catering to your prospective students doesn’t need to be kitschy or insincere. And you really don’t need influencers to be dropping your school’s name in order to communicate relevance.
Again, sometimes the things we need the most are right under our noses – we just have to know to look for them. For higher ed websites, that means not overlooking your faculty members as inspiration for, or sources of, awesome, interesting, engaging content.
Faculty… Great Content? Really!?
First, if you’re picturing a leather-patched sweater, glasses and wood pipe type droning on and on… you’re in the wrong century.
Today, college instructors (like college marketers) have to contend with the oh-so-short attention spans of their students, who are more equipped than ever to tune them out with the help of their personal devices. The good professors have mastered the art of keeping the teenage masses interested – at least long enough to get their message across.
Odds are, every university department features at least one legend professor. She – whose classes fill up within minutes of registration opening and lectures are observed with quiet awe – is out there.
Find her. Talk to her. Better yet, get her to talk to the audience you’re most responsible for – your next freshman class.
Four Types of Faculty-inspired Content
Once you’ve found your star faculty members, you need to decide how to best tell their stories. There are several options available as your delivery vehicles. These can be written up by the faculty member himself, a writer you have on staff or even a student. The copy just has to tell an engaging narrative that captivates the attention of your target audience.
University professors travel. Some of them travel quite a bit. From academic conferences and research expeditions to sabbaticals, they get to experience lots of cool places and do many interesting things (and not always academic in nature, either).
Travel is inherently interesting. Write-ups featuring exotic or extraordinary locations and tales of adventure are bound to earn a bevy of clicks on your university blog or even homepage.
2. Research Write-up
This may seem like a boring proposition. Then again, there are lots of very interesting research areas that resonate with rising college freshmen interests: space exploration, new transportation technology, virtual reality, robotics, social sciences… the list is rather endless.
The trick with research write-ups/updates is to gear them to a lay audience and leave out the technical jargon. This may require the skills of an experienced writer.
Using their academic training and expertise, university professors are able to provide fact-based perspectives on many issues captured in today’s headlines. In fact, major media organizations solicit such observations from respected sources. Though opinion pieces can at times be perceived as somewhat controversial, they are a great method for correcting misconceptions held by the public at large or misrepresentations of reported information.
Publishing opinion articles by your faculty members can signal to prospective students that your school stays on the cutting edge of public interests. And, of course, they also boost the reputation of the academic.
Faculty spotlights are an excellent way to communicate the strength of a particular academic department, recognize the contribution or achievements of a rising star academician and/or bring to life instructors with an outsized reputation. Spotlights should not be treated as career sum-ups – or worse, obituaries. Care should be given to presenting a narrative that will resonate with a wide range of audiences.
Beacon Knows Higher Ed Content
Need some help planning and managing your school’s website content? Let Beacon’s experienced content strategists help. Request a complimentary website audit today.