Marketing Our Colleges: WhoDoUWant2B?
Athletic directors who recruit student athletes often remind the rest of the college that when the athletes enroll, they do not only enroll in their sport; they also take courses across the campus, such as general education, fulfilling requirements for degrees and for transfer. So any athletic recruitment effort actually benefits the whole college.
If this axiom is true, then any targeted marketing or outreach effort to potential college students can bring enrollment not only to one program but also to the whole college. In February, the Academic Senate-led SB 70 project launched a statewide marketing campaign called WhoDoUWant2B. Its purpose is to encourage teens to plan for their futures by considering the many Career Technical Education (CTE) opportunities in our state's public high schools, Regional Occupational Centers and Programs (ROCPs) and community colleges.
You already may be aware of the SB 70 Statewide Career Pathways: Creating School to College Articulation project, (see www.statewidepathways.org and the March 2007 Rostrum) which has developed the infrastructure for articulation between high schools, ROCPs and our colleges. The project's Steering Committee determined that in addition to creating the articulation processes, what was also needed was a comprehensive, professional statewide marketing campaign to stimulate interest in CTE in California. Thus was born the WhoDoUWant2B campaign.
The project contracted with a Sacramento firm, Runyon Saltzman & Einhorn, Inc. to develop and execute a CTE awareness and outreach campaign, targeting California students, parents and educators. It includes internal components (e.g. informational materials for secondary teachers and counselors) as well as the external marketing components explained in this article. The goal is to increase interest in CTE and career opportunities, encourage students to enroll in secondary and community college courses, and ensure that California's working families are aware of CTE opportunities. All of the components of the campaign are intended to drive traffic to the new website WhoDoUWant2B.com.
The advertising components of the campaign include radio ads for teens and for Spanish-speaking parents, web banner ads, search engine optimization and in-line text advertising.
The website is student-focused and interactive and provides self-exploration of CTE, career options, high school, ROCP and community college programs, and links to public institutions and financial aid information.
It is not intended to be a comprehensive career-exploration website, as there are many excellent resources that do that already. Instead, it intends to be simple and motivational. If you haven't looked at WhoDoUWant2B.com yet, I encourage you to have a look at it-now and in coming months, as new features will be added.
There is an effort to coordinate the campaign efforts with compatible campaigns, such as the I Can Afford College Community College Financial Aid Awareness Campaign. In addition, links are being provided to appropriate websites, such as CaliforniaCareerZone.org, Eureka and FastWeb.com.
The marketing firm conducted research including focus groups of students, parents and counselors to ensure the message resonates with the target audience and so far, the response has been outstanding. Teens respond especially well to seeing their peers on the website who provide testimony about their career preparation. Thousands of people have visited the website since its launch in February, and the advertising (web banners and radio) has already proven successful at reaching the target audience.
By developing the infrastructure for secondary-postsecondary articulation and launching the outreach campaign, the Statewide Career Pathways: Creating School to College Articulation project hopes to accomplish the vision laid out by Governor Schwarzenegger
(the Governor's Initiative on Economic Development and Career Technical Education) and Senator Jack Scott (SB 70). Given the dire budget times for the state and for community colleges, the timing of this campaign might be fortuitous. If we can persuade more high school students to enroll in programs that lead them into community colleges and careers, everyone benefits.
The articles published in the Rostrum do not necessarily represent the adopted positions of the academic senate. For adopted positions and recommendations, please browse this website.