On May 2 and 3 the University of Cyprus hosted the 8th UNICA PR & Communication Workshop. This year’s edition focused on academic marketing, starting from the question "Is university advertising pushing the boundaries too far?". Drawing from best practices and lessons learned from PR to marketing, participants had the chance to discuss how to be effective and live up to university legacy mission and values as well as the approaches to university advertising on a local and global level.
Additionally, read some of the conclusions of this workshop as described by David Smith, Head of Marketing at the University of East London:
"It was clear from the presentations and discussions throughout the day that universities represented at the workshop have varying goals, audiences and budgets, but have similar marketing strategies, actives and outcomes.
A key theme that came across in the workshop was messaging and brand, particularly how we show impact and value while being distinctive and standing out from the crowd. We saw good examples of the use of engaging content in a number of the presentations and innovative approaches to rich media.
The location also came out as a common theme across the participants – with many universities identifying their location as an extension of their brand. Likewise, heritage also played a strong part in brand communications for a number of the represented universities, and there were interesting discussions around balancing heritage with the need to remain relevant in a modern world.
Many presentations also referenced the importance of having an integrated approach to marketing and communications to ensure consistency of message and recognition of a brand, and the value of aligning paid, owned and earned media channels.
Another reoccurring theme was content marketing – with a number of presentations touching on the value of story-telling in marketing communications and the impact that emotive content has in presenting an authentic voice. We also touched on the student experience as being key to building a brand and the importance of a joined-up approach across all touchpoints, from initial interest to registration and enrolment and beyond.
There were some interesting examples across the group for the use of new technology in marketing communications, from the use of virtual reality to artificial intelligence, it was clear that a number of institutions are starting to explore innovative ways of connecting with audiences.
Influencing senior management came up as a discussion point on a few occasions on the day, with participants sharing ideas about how to best show the value and importance of marketing communications with university leadership.
And finally, a key takeaway from the day was the importance of measuring success. The need to be able to record the impact of marketing and communications activity to enable us to show return on investment and optimise future activities".