Creating a Communications Plan

Functional Description 

Develop short and long-term strategic communications plans that deliver key messages to the right audience at the right time using multi-dimensional approaches to student recruitment. Implement robust communication plans at each stage in the enrollment process from prospect to applicant to admitted student to enrolled. Work with faculty and other campus constituents to develop focused communications plans.

Content knowledge requirements: Understanding of institutional image and brand;  understanding of  admissions funnels and cycles for various populations; best practices for engaging through social media; knowledge of institutional mission and programs; understanding of student information system database.

Skill requirementsStrong written communication and problem solving skills; excellent interpersonal communication, editing and organizational skills; ability to handle details and multiple tasks with deadlines; possibly experience in web management, electronic communication, and social media; understanding of CRM technology and familiarity with technology options.

Ethical requirementsHonesty and integrity, adherence to NACAC Principles of Good Practice including not speaking negatively about other schools.

Expertise Levels

Entry levelMessaging conveys brand value; communication plans integrated with the recruitment process, beginning at the prospective student stage and continuing until the student is enrolled; communications have a clear call to action appropriate for the student; series of communications to alert students when their applications are complete or when items are needed; manage requests from other campus offices to communicate with prospective students, applicants and incoming students; evaluate effectiveness of plan.

Intermediate levelEntry level skills and: messages targeted by student population focus on the key marketing messages of the institution, with particular attention paid to academic outcomes; yield communications plan designed to build commitment to the university;  segment communications for specific audiences such as early outreach students, international students, transfer students; variety of media including emails designed to augment and enhance direct mail communications; tele-counseling plan; customized communications based on interests, actions, and demographic data; communications to “stealth” inquiries by optimizing the website with tools like virtual tours, social media and mobile resources.

Expert levelIntermediate level skills and: use of predictive modeling and qualification to group students according to their likelihood of enrolling and use resources accordingly; ensure that front-line staff use predictive data to prioritize contacts; create comprehensive communications plans for parents of prospective students, high school counselors, and other stakeholders; track & troubleshoot issues, report on delivery rates & links accessed, resolve data errors, research/track website site usage, and recommend developments to increase traffic; perform continuous benchmarking of other higher education institutions for best practices and content.