July 27 2016

What is your institution’s current plan for enhancing student enrollment? For many college campuses, communicating a unified vision to prospective students may seem difficult but should not be neglected. Developing strategies for communication plans sends an intentional, consistent message to the entire campus along with future students.

communicating at a university lecture hall

By implementing a strategic communication plan, a campus clarifies its larger goals and solidifies the messaging to both current and prospective students. Aligning communication also fosters trust and recognition in the campus brand which can increase attention toward your institution.

Here are five ways that a strategic communication plan will enhance student enrollment goals.

1. Encourage Collaborative Leadership

Collaborating with all campus stakeholders fosters a culture of planning and innovation at each level of campus leadership, which in turn creates clarity and transparency in the institution’s communications. To effectively implement a strategic communication plan that enhances student enrollment, it is critical that departmental messaging across the board have a unified vision.

Collaboration can foster interdepartmental camaraderie, and tell your institutional story in such a way that prospective and current students feel a sense of engagement with the campus brand.

You can align your brand message by clearly defining each department’s role in the planning process. Clarifying how each department will communicate ensures a consistent, central message through marketing materials so that one department does not overshadow another or send a mixed message to constituents.

2. Communicate a Core Identity

Using the same brand voice across the institution communicates to both stakeholders and students that your campus has a strong core identity. This lends credibility to your college, while attracting the best-fit students for your institution simultaneously.

A disorganized campus with a fragmented message across departments could create skepticism in future students and parents, resulting in lower enrollment and retention rates. An ideal strategic communications plan speaks the same language across every department at each level of institutional leadership, ensuring that the target audience understands your brand voice at every point of communication. For example, if your message is splintered with some people on campus focusing on academic experience and others sharing dedication to service as the core mission, it would serve your institution to get the entire faculty and staff on the same page, and on-message. Once everyone is comfortable with the message at the core of your identity, those speaking on the university’s behalf can then build upon that foundation when communicating with potential students.

3. Build Confidence Through Testimonials

Together, parents and students must weigh many factors during the college search and want to gain confidence knowing their money is being well-spent at whichever institution they choose. Campuses can effectively demonstrate a return on investment for constituents by sharing success stories from current and former students. Testimonials regarding internships, semesters abroad and alumni success stories all serve to promote the transformational experience an education at an independent institution can provide.

To enhance student enrollment, however, it is not enough to simply tell a story. An effective strategic communication plan considers the best marketing materials to present to the target audience. For example, a high school senior may be more likely to watch a short video about a current student’s experience at your institution, rather than receiving informational handouts, even if the same information is presented in both mediums. On the other hand, delivering paper brochures at home might be best for communicating to parents who may not be as digitally inclined. Infographics are an eye-catching medium to share stories via brief snippets of information and colorful, vibrant artwork.

Infographics make great content for social media, and give prospective students opportunities to connect with both tangible facts and positive feelings when following through stories and snippets of what makes your institution such a great place.

4. Applied Vs. Admitted Student Communications

Customization is key when implementing a strategic communication plan to enhance student enrollment. We provide Admitted Students Research tools to gain data-driven insights into what current students think and feel, which is instrumental in providing the most compelling information to prospective students who may be considering your institution. With a customized communication plan, you are able to transition students from inquiry to enrollment due to the effective communication and relationship development you’ve had with them throughout the recruitment process.

5. Vary Your Communication Vehicles

Creating unique communication that presents information from various perspectives, whether via social media, print, or video, allows for student involvement in each stage of the enrollment process. The level of involvement in the ‘buying journey’ stage a prospective student is on can determine the best method of communication.

For example, printed promotional materials may be an ideal approach to reaching parents and prospective students during initial communication, but as prospective students move through the enrollment cycle, social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram may garner more excitement from students. This is particularly true as you endeavor to engage them with other prospects and current students.

When attempting to enhance student enrollment through strategic communication planning, it’s critical to match your communication vehicle to the correct target audience for maximum effectiveness.

Final Thought on Communication Plan Strategies

Ultimately a strategic communication plan gives your institution the opportunity to not only answer questions that prospective students may have, but to do so in a cohesive, unified manner. By implementing such a strategy, you will be able to address constituents’ concerns regarding value, program offerings, student experiences and outcomes. These questions are unique to each student, according to which stage of the enrollment journey they’re in. Use strategy to attract and retain best-fit students, and as a result, your enrollment will thrive.

To learn more about how Credo can help you enhance your communication plan, contact Credo today:


Continue Reading