Monday, September 21, 2009

What distinguishes grad/professional school marketing?

So far as I can tell, there aren't many higher ed marketing resources out there that specifically target graduate and professional schools. Which led me to ask, what really distinguishes us from colleges or university-wide operations?
  • Prospective student base. This seems obvious, but the point must be made. Even though there are many breeds of graduate-level students, they are—by definition—older and more educated than the competitive teen market that undergraduate IHEs target. Simply put, the same rules don't apply.
  • Organizational structure. Whereas general higher ed communicators often report to another communications professional or someone with related experience, graduate/professional school specialists often work more closely with academic deans who may have their own ideas about marketing. Some of us dual-report to university-wide PR operations, and others play a liaison role between academics and marketing firms.
  • More focused alumni interests. Beyond their alma mater, our alumni usually share a common profession. This creates the potential for more in-depth discussion of professional topics in alumni magazine articles, social media sites, etc.
  • The end goal. Most graduate/professional students have a defined reason for continuing their study. Sure, there are those who are stalling for time while they figure out what they want to be when they grow up, but I would suspect that isn't the norm. For professional schools, alumni achievements and employment stats take on greater meaning than our undergraduate counterparts.
What other aspects of higher ed marketing differ for those who work past the undergraduate level?

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