Tag Archives: freelance writing

Freaky Short Recruitment Marketing Emails

Recruitment marketingAre your recruitment marketing emails to prospective high school students too long? I’m going to guess, yes.

Last year I wrote a post about how to keep your emails from getting too wordy. Since then, I’ve written dozens of emails for various colleges’ application generation and search campaigns. My clients used to ask for 150-word emails. Now, that’s changing to be 100 words or less.

But you know what happens? When university officials see the shorter emails, they often freak out. It’s not enough information, some may say. Can we add X, Y, and Z to this email?, they ask. Soon the emails balloon to double the word count with a lot of superfluous adjectives and non-distinct features of the school.

When you’re sending more than a single email to students (and we know you are), be assured: it’s okay to have less information in each email.

It may seem difficult or weird to get used to at first (and shorter emails may be more challenging to write), but students are bombarded with tons of information, especially information on colleges, every day. They see it online. They get it in their email inbox. They receive viewbooks and postcards in the mail. They see brochures at college fairs.

Your emails don’t need to provide them all the information they “need” to know about your institution. Instead, the emails need to provide just enough information to pique the students’ interest so they take the action you want them to: inquire, schedule a campus visit, or apply.

Don’t worry—even if your emails are super short, students will still get the information they need. Today’s high school students are great at Googling. They know how to find your website.

Just take a breath, and let go of all the unnecessary words. And say hello to shorter, more concise (and hopefully more effective) recruitment emails.


About Dana’s Creative Services

Dana’s Creative Services is a writing and editing services company that helps businesses communicate better with their target audiences. Dana McCullough, owner of Dana’s Creative Services, writes and edits copy for brochures, newsletters, websites, blogs, magazines, and books. She frequently writes and edits copy on higher education and genealogy/family history topics. She is the author of the Unofficial Guide to FamilySearch.org. Twitter:@DanasCreative

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What’s NOT Distinct About Your University?

DistinctionsIn a recent post, I wrote about things to consider when determining what features are distinct about your university. All too often, universities think certain things (like having an internship program) sets them apart from other schools, when those things are fairly common and not distinctive.

Does your school fall into the trap of promoting non-distinct features to prospective students?

Here are common features nearly all schools promote, or at least offer, that aren’t necessarily distinct or relevant to today’s prospective students.

Number of academic majors. Students may not necessarily care how many majors your school offers. What they care about is if you have the major they are interested in pursuing. Including a short list of your school’s most popular or unique offerings may be more beneficial than featuring the number of majors in your marketing materials.

Liberal arts-based institution. Most universities in the United States have an educational curriculum rooted in the liberal arts. If your school does, just remember that this fact is not really a unique selling point.

Internships. It’s expected that students attending your college today will be able to get an internship, so the fact that your students participate in internships isn’t distinct. What may be distinct, however, is where students have interned or how you help students find internships.

Personalized attention. Especially at small private colleges, this term is overused and students hear it all the time. Instead of promoting the general “personal attention” feature, use proof points in your marketing materials that allude to this personalized attention. For example, each student gets one-on-one career counseling, or each new student is assigned an upperclassman and a faculty member to be their mentor.

Lots of student clubs and organizations. Instead of just telling students you’ve got 40 student clubs and organizations (boring!), provide examples (or better yet, videos) of the things they could do on campus, such as participate in the ping-pong, animal rescue, or ultimate Frisbee club; play intramural sports; etc.

Religious affiliation. Many colleges have a specific faith deeply embedded in its mission and/or its curriculum, but this is not one of the top things most students today are looking for in a college. So, while it’s important to include this information somewhere in your messaging, it likely shouldn’t be the main focus of your recruitment materials.

Single-sex institution. While few all-male colleges exist today, there are still a few dozen women’s colleges in the country. But when it comes to marketing those schools, the single-sex education feature doesn’t sell. Why? Just try to do an ACT name buy based on students who indicated an interest in a women’s college. You won’t find many, because students are more interested in simply finding a college that has their major, is in a location they desire and that provides them the best financial aid award possible. So, while it’s important for prospective students to know you’re a single-sex school, it shouldn’t be the main focus of your marketing materials.

Of course, it’s impossible to eliminate mentioning some of the items above in your student recruitment materials, but as you create or update materials, just remember to ask yourself: Is this feature distinct? If it’s not, you could still mention it, just don’t focus all your copy around those features.


About Dana’s Creative Services

Dana’s Creative Services is a writing and editing services company that helps businesses communicate better with their target audiences. Dana McCullough, owner of Dana’s Creative Services, writes and edits copy for brochures, newsletters, websites, blogs, magazines, and books. She frequently writes and edits copy on higher education and genealogy/family history topics. She is the author of the Unofficial Guide to FamilySearch.org. Twitter:@DanasCreative

 

 

The Value of a Liberal Arts Education

magazine coverIn the latest Mount Mary Magazine, the alumnae magazine for Mount Mary University in Milwaukee, I was asked to seek out research about the value of a liberal arts education and showcase in a magazine feature article how this particular institution uniquely lives out the liberal arts aspect of its mission and truly prepares today’s students for an ever-changing world and job market.

From the Spring/Summer issue of the Mount Mary Magazine:

“The value of an education in the liberal arts college is not the learning of many facts, but the training of the mind to think.” –Albert Einstein

Parents visiting college campuses with their high school students ask “What job can my child get with this degree?” Politicians and pundits debate the value (or perceived lack of value) of a well-rounded college education and suggest reforms to change the purpose of education from educating the thinkers of tomorrow to preparing students for specific jobs. And for many, there’s a perception that a liberal arts education is a luxury, not something available to students of all socio-economic levels.magazine spread

As the value of the liberal arts is increasingly questioned and debated, it is good to revisit Einstein’s words and to remind ourselves of the purpose and value of the liberal arts.

So what is the value of a liberal arts education in today’s world?

Read the rest of the story here.


 

About Dana’s Creative Services

Dana’s Creative Services is a writing and editing services company that helps businesses communicate better with their target audiences. Dana McCullough, owner of Dana’s Creative Services, writes and edits copy for brochures, newsletters, websites, blogs, magazines, and books. She frequently writes and edits copy on higher education and genealogy/family history topics. She is the author of the Unofficial Guide to FamilySearch.org. Twitter: @DanasCreative

 

Why College Marketers Need to Know BuzzFeed

BuzzFeed On a recent visit to a college campus, a roomful of students agreed on the one website they read/visit regularly: BuzzFeed. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s time you check it out.

So what is BuzzFeed? It’s a “social” news and entertainment site that lets visitors rate the articles they read based on which ones make them laugh, which ones are “cute,” which ones “fail,” and more.

The articles are short. They’re written in a straightforward, conversational, and slightly edgy tone. Many include images and/or videos. Many are written in a top-10 list style.

Visitors can know which articles are most popular by viewing articles identified with the “trending” icon (the upward zig-zag arrow).

Why should you get to know BuzzFeed? According to the site’s advertising media kit, BuzzFeed gets 175 million unique visitors each month, and 50 percent of those visitors are 18-34 years old.

If you’re looking for a place to spend advertising dollars for transfer or young adult students, BuzzFeed might be worth a look.

Also, if you want to get an idea for the tone and language prospective and current students enjoy, reading BuzzFeed articles and viewing their videos can give you inspiration for the tone and conversational style you may want to try using in your college’s marketing pieces.


About Dana’s Creative Services

Dana’s Creative Services is a writing and editing services company that helps businesses communicate better with their target audiences. Dana McCullough, owner of Dana’s Creative Services, writes and edits copy for brochures, newsletters, websites, blogs, magazines, and books. She frequently writes and edits copy on higher education, genealogy/family history, health, and business topics. Twitter: @DanasCreative

Tips for Writing More Compelling News Stories for College Websites

Higher Education News StoriesI see this all the time. Universities who intend to showcase their school via “stories” on their website, who end up posting award, achievement, and event announcements instead.

It’s often a fine line between writing a dry announcement because the administration requests it and writing a compelling news story that will generate interest from media outlets and social media posters, as well as spark the interest of prospective students and their parents.

What can you do to rev up your news stories on your website and make them more compelling?

Start with the headline. Think about the stories you like to read online. What would be more interesting to read—a story with the headline “Student Receives XYX Fellowship,” or “XYZ Fellowship Winner Studies New Technologies for Wind Energy”? Use a more descriptive headline, but still try to keep it concise. The headline can help you focus the story.

Focus on people and their stories. Avoid writing about “things”—events, awards, etc. Instead, write about people. When a professor wins an award, don’t write about the award. Write about the professor. Who is the professor? What is the professor passionate about? What did she do to win the award? Why did the professor do what she did? What is unique or interesting about this professor, her teaching style or her research?

Find a fresh angle. The angle is key in writing compelling stories. Challenge yourself (or your staff) to identify what is unique or compelling (i.e. why someone else would care to read the article) and focus the story around that angle.

For example, if your college always posts the same story each year—perhaps a story on fall enrollment or a story on spring commencement—try to find new angles each year. For fall enrollment, tell the amazing story of one of your new students or create a photo-style feature of students moving into the residence halls and use captions to tell the enrollment story.

Differentiate between events and news. Know what constitutes a news story or a Calendar of Events listing on your website.

The headline for a recent “news” story on a college website was “Gospel Choir Christmas Concert.” This website also has an Events section on it homepage. Where should information on this concert go? Should the information have been placed in an Events listing instead of the News section? The headline isn’t very descriptive (for example, is it just announcing the event or is it giving you some other background or behind-the-scenes information about the event?).

If the main purpose of a post is to give the details of an event, consider posting it only in your Events section. If there’s a story behind the event you want to tell—perhaps how students are preparing for a concert—then the story would be a news story.


About Dana’s Creative Services

Dana’s Creative Services is a writing and editing services company that helps businesses communicate better with their target audiences. Dana McCullough, owner of Dana’s Creative Services, writes and edits copy for brochures, newsletters, websites, blogs, magazines, and books. She frequently writes and edits copy on higher education, genealogy/family history, health, and business topics. Twitter: @DanasCreative

Using LinkedIn to Generate Alumni Stories: Part 2

In my last blog post, I provided tips on how to find alumni information via LinkedIn to generate alumni story ideas. Today, I’ve got step-by-step details on how to find alumni employment data to use in your higher education communications and marketing materials.

FINDING ALUMNI EMPLOYMENT INFO ON LINKEDIN

LinkedIn

LinkedIn college alumni employment data

Step 1: Go to your college’s LinkedIn page. (If you don’t know your school’s LinkedIn URL, do a Google search for your college name and the word LinkedIn.)

Step 2: At the top of the page, two graphs will appear that show employment data. The data is based on information in LinkedIn profiles of your alumni. One graph shows company names of the top four companies where your alumni work. The other graph shows the top four most popular job titles for your alumni. (Note: If this data doesn’t appear right away, click on the Home tab under your college’s name.)

Step 3: Click the More link under either graph of data. This will take you to a page with one additional category: Where They Live. It also will show you expanded data so you can see more than the top four most popular places where alumni work and job titles that alumni have.

Step 4: Use the arrows by the graph results to see even more data, including where they studied (so you can see what, if any, graduate schools your alums have attended) and what alumni are skilled at.

Step 5: Use the data you find in marketing pieces. For example, use information on where alums have studied to show which prestigious graduate schools your alums have gone on to attend. Or, use information on where they work in recruitment brochures to say our alumni are employed at X, Y, and Z companies.


About Dana’s Creative Services

Dana’s Creative Services is a writing and editing services company that helps businesses communicate better with their target audiences. Dana McCullough, owner of Dana’s Creative Services, writes and edits copy for brochures, newsletters, websites, blogs, magazines, and books. Her clients include universities, nonprofit organizations, magazine publishers, and book publishers nationwide. Dana has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and frequently writes and edits copy on higher education, genealogy/family history, health, and business topics. Twitter: @DanasCreative

 

Using LinkedIn to Generate Alumni Story Ideas: Part 1

Finding alumni success stories to share in alumni magazines, online news stories, and recruitment marketing materials can sometimes seem like a daunting task for college communications professionals. But with all the social media tools at your disposal, it’s never been easier to find out what alumni are doing.

The next time you’re asked to find alumni story ideas turn to LinkedIn first. On LinkedIn, you can see aggregate data on companies that hire the most alumni from your school, and you can search by your college name to find alums and check out what they’re doing today. Here’s how.

FINDING COLLEGE ALUMNI ON LINKEDIN

LinkedIn

LinkedIn alumni search results

Step 1: Log in to LinkedIn and click on Advanced Search. The Advanced Search box will give you several options of information to enter. In the School box, enter your college’s name.

Step 2: The default results will show you people from your school who share your connections. To search all of LinkedIn for alumni (not just your connections), check the All box under the Relationship section to the left of your results.

Step 3: To review results, click on each page of results or the Next button. If you’re looking for a specific type of alum (such as a recent alum who’s been in the workforce less than 5 years, or an alum working in the financial services or hospital/health care industry), you can narrow results using the categories on the left: Current Company, Industry, Past Company, School, Years of Experience, Function, Seniority Level, etc.

Step 4: Before you use information you find here, contact the alumnus or alumna to confirm the information is up-to-date. If one alum’s job or company sounds interesting, contact him or her to schedule an interview so you can learn more and get a story for your website or alumni magazine, or get a quote for a recruitment marketing brochure.

In my next blog post, I’ll cover how to find alumni employment data on LinkedIn.


About Dana’s Creative Services

Dana’s Creative Services is a writing and editing services company that helps businesses communicate better with their target audiences. Dana McCullough, owner of Dana’s Creative Services, writes and edits copy for brochures, newsletters, websites, blogs, magazines, and books. Her clients include universities, nonprofit organizations, magazine publishers, and book publishers nationwide. Dana has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and frequently writes and edits copy on higher education, genealogy/family history, health, and business topics. Twitter: @DanasCreative

Best Blogs for Freelance Writing Newbies

Freelance BlogsWhen I first started freelancing I turned to blogs of men and women who had “been there, done that” to get advice on starting my freelance business. Today, I continue to read many of these blogs to stay inspired and to be up-to-date on the conversations others in my field are having.

If you’re a newbie freelancer, here are a few blogs I have found useful and you may, too:

1. Make a Living Writing. This blog by Carol Tice was a great help when I was first starting out, especially her posts about setting freelance rates, what different markets pay, and transitioning to a career as a full-time freelancer.

2. The Renegade Writer. When I was a summer editorial intern at Family Circle magazine, I remember fact-checking articles written by Linda Formichelli. I enjoyed her articles, and afterward I started seeing her byline in tons of places. I wanted to write for magazines like she did. When I was considering quitting my day job and becoming a full-time freelancer, I read Linda’s books The Renegade Writer and Query Letters That Rock (both co-written with Diana Burrell). I started reading Linda’s blog, too, which has even more practical advice for freelance newbies.

3. The Well-Fed Writer. Peter Bowerman’s The Well-Fed Writer was another book I read before getting the courage to make the leap to full-time freelancing. The book is kind of a no-nonsense guide of how to land copywriting work, and the freelance rate information in here was yet another super-helpful resource in helping me to determine my freelance rates. His blog has equally great advice.

4. MediaBistro. This site has lots of blogs, based on your interests in the media world, but what I found even more helpful than the blogs here were the site’s How to Pitch articles for tips on pitching story ideas to different magazines. It helped me land an article assignment from a magazine I hadn’t written for before. In my opinion, the MediaBistro subscription fee is well worth it.


About Dana’s Creative Services

Dana’s Creative Services is a writing and editing services company that helps businesses communicate better with their target audiences. Dana McCullough, owner of Dana’s Creative Services, writes and edits copy for brochures, newsletters, websites, blogs, magazines, and books. Her clients include universities, nonprofit organizations, magazine publishers, and book publishers nationwide. Dana has a bachelor’s degree in journalism and frequently writes and edits copy on higher education, genealogy/family history, health, and business topics.