I am a senior strategist at mStoner so I think about strategy a lot. Every day, I work with clients and every day, there’s a balancing act to do. A team on one campus is talented and small, how much can we expect them to take on more? On another campus, the team is very effective but very decentralized, how will they coordinate multiple communication plans to accomplish their strategic vision? For me, the answer is strategy.
Earlier today, I gave a keynote at the CASE Annual Conference for Publications Professionals. I talked about strategy, about the idea that you can’t just do some stuff and hope for the best. Because…cue the Cheshire Cat…if you don’t know where you’re going, any road will get you there.
Already, we’re all working really hard to tell the story of our campus through a range of channels and platforms. I get that. I worked in marketing and communications at William & Mary for a really long time. And, since joining mStoner, I’ve worked on consulting engagements with 11 schools. I understand the challenges, the barriers, and why developing a strategy is difficult. But, I also know, in my bones, that the only way we can distinguish your institution from the one down the road or the one two states over, is to be more strategic.
Visiting college campuses is a bit of a hobby for me and, in my lifetime, I’ve been to almost 75. I haven’t been to a campus yet where there are unlimited resources for marketing and communications. When your time, money, and staff are limited and lean (and perhaps already overworked), you have to prioritize. Without strategy, it’s a fight to figure out what’s the most important thing to focus on. Without strategy, all goals are confused as equivalent. Without strategy, any garden path seems appealing and this means your work might go off the rails or, worse, you might get vanilla results.
Keep the faith. Stand up for strategy on your campus!