Workgroup no. 6, which is looking at university marketing and branding, talked about the issues relating to creating a brand at their meeting Wednesday.
In their recommendations, the group is considering the organizational structure of marketing, the sharing of information across campus to allow work to be done from lots of different areas, building awareness of Eastern, across the region building awareness establishing and communicating the university’s brand.
They group acknowledged the university has a public relations issue, with people thinking Eastern is going to close, when that is not that the case.
Because of this, the Workgroup discussed going beyond potential students and their families with their message, and how they were going to reach a concerned public.
Communication studies professor Chigozirim Utah said in a small town, people communicate efficiently with one another, which is good, but it can also bite the university with their marketing efforts.
“(Community members) see Eastern as such a fundamental part of their community, they want to know, ‘how are you guys doing down there,I heard all these things,’”she said.
Jeremy Alexander, interim associate director of housing and dining, said it came back to brand identity and using a workplace hub of connected marketing areas to do so.
“How do you make sure it can be a one-stop shop to make sure that not only our campus constituents but our community partners would be able to help us by being brand ambassadors for us?” Alexander said.
He said a work flow would exist so each area could focus on their own work specific to their own tasks.
Utah said though everyone has been resilient and making do with what they have, this “survival discourse” used when marketing makes her nervous because smaller details start to get forgotten, such as the state of buildings.
“If you are recruiting people and they come to your building and it looks jack, I don’t care what you say, (they’ll be like) what is going on,” Utah said.
Workgroup chair Richard Flight, a marketing professor, these issues can make it hard to develop a brand.
If the university brands itself a certain way, they need to walk the walk, Flight said.
“Part of it is a physical thing, but part of it is if we say we are a great value we have to be a great value,” Flight said. “When students compare costs and values from other universities, for instance you have to actually follow through with what you say you are.”
Alexander said it is not just about saying Eastern is a great value- it is about communicating that value and letting people know how those play into that value equation for a student.
Alexander said because the university is low on an investment and employee side, people are doing their best to do what they need to do done, but they cannot run marketing for a university of this size with such a small staff.
“We have a fantastic product, and we need to make sure we’re putting institutional resources behind telling our story,” Alexander said.
The group agreed that it would be hard to effectively communicate a brand identity without the right resources or facilities.
Flight said a recurring theme is that there is not enough funding for groups to do everything they want to do.
“Marketing is an investment. You have to put money in, and when you put money in you get results out,” he said.
The group will look at short-term and long-term goals in their recommendations.
Alexander said it would be short-sighted if they went with only short-term goals, as it would perpetuate an attitude of only reacting to crises.
“We also have to keep our eye on the horizon, what are markets that we can start to branch into,” Alexander said.
Kilgore said the university has always been very reactive with their marketing, but the Work Group’s recommendations will include the reactive tactics the university needs to take now and proactive marketing that needs to be done as well.
Cassie Buchman can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]