Marketing group looking for personality of Eastern

Abbey Whittington, Associate News Editor

Workgroup no. 6, focused on university marketing and branding, discussed raising awareness to prospective students, creating a marketing “toolbox” for each department, establishing a brand for Eastern and structuralizing issues.

Richard Flight, the chairman of the workgroup and marketing professor, said there has been a lot of crossover in each workgroup but there has been a request for each of them on things like targeted investments, cost productions and improvements to existing activities.

In addition to this request, Flight wanted to define what marketing and branding is and what the group’s bounds are considering the crossover of other task forces groups.

Christy Kilgore, workgroup member and assistant director of marketing and creative services, was asked to come to the meeting for Workgroup no. 3, focused on enrollment management.

“We need to have an enrollment plan to base a marketing plan off of,” Kilgore said.

Kilgore said she believes the marketing group may be a little bound if they need to wait for a plan from enrollment management, but it would help guide them on what to do.

“Whatever comes out of our group would have to sort of be contingent on what comes out of enrollment management,” Kilgore said.

Chigozirim Utah, assistant professor of communication studies, said the group needs to figure out a way to understand how to construct a brand for the university and instead looking at it like a message.

“What goes into having to construct (a message) is sort of thinking about how we can have more authentic messages that involve an organic understanding of different people’s experiences,” Utah said.

Utah said that just trying to define what Eastern is misses the opportunity for how people do communicate and feel on campus and in her class she asked her students from her organizational communications course what EIU is and what it is not.

“One of the things that struck me was I had a few transfer students say ‘EIU is not closed minded, it is open minded we just came here as transfers and we feel completely embraced by other students.” Utah said.

She added that the transfer students in her class felt like they could get involved right away.

“To me, it’s interesting that a lot of those things that are the most wonderful things about EIU aren’t being communicated, but also have to be factored into when we start thinking about a long term plan because it leads to our strengths as an institution,” Utah said. “I don’t think we’re capitalizing enough on those strengths and communicating those strengths in an authentic matter.”

Jeremy Alexander, interim associate director of housing and dining, said that after sending out a survey on what Eastern’s brand is, he noticed that many had a love for Eastern and wanted to know how to convey that without seeming like they were not just trying to market to students.

Utah said she thinks a lot of time simplicity is overlooked and thinks the group hear find what the campus community is saying and transmit it in marketing to make Eastern’s brand more conversational.

Kilgore said as far as content and delivery, marketing tries to cover so many things so sometimes not every question is answered in a university’s brand or marketing. She also suggested creating a marketing template for each department.

Richard Flight, chair of the workgroup and marketing professor, said the marketing function is happening at three different levels including a focus on what Eastern is, who the market it and what the services are and what is the marketing plan and message.

Flight said most students only think about a handful of important things when students come to college including social fit, cost, academic reputation, faculty, benefits and programming.

The group also discussed making sure they reach out to any and all perspective students as well as involving alumni in marketing more rather than just asking them for money.

Abbey Whittington can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]