Higher Ed | Plymouth State University

Recruitment, Messaging, Brand Design, Public Relations, National/Statewide

Challenge:

Millennium entered its initial contract with PSU after being selected through a rigorous RFP process. PSU selected Millennium based on its proven expertise and success in the higher education and non-profit space, along with its ability to reach in-state and out-of-state markets. PSU also leveraged Millennium’s experience with developing a single brand and message and then tailoring it undergraduate and graduate audiences.

This presented the organization with a number of challenges:

  • Target in-state and out-of-state markets
  • Create consistency for grad/undergrad
  • Drive recruitment to achieve aggressive goals
  • Align with leaderships’ vision/mission
  • Increase applications, acceptances & deposits
  • Define and track metrics for success

Approach

With a five-month period to execute its first marketing campaign for PSU, Millennium implemented an aggressive integrated marketing approach, conducting research that included an assessment of marketing materials and messaging, primary research with key stakeholders, and a competitive analysis.

The firm concluded that PSU’s campaign should focus on the academic and quality campus experience provided to undergraduate students, while the graduate student messaging should center on the high-quality academics and affordability of the various degree programs.

 

Millennium developed a comprehensive integrated marketing plan that detailed strategic recommendations for delivering PSU’s messaging to its target audiences including tactics such as radio spots and online ads; and banner ads through Comcast Spotlight Online.

Millennium also negotiated print and online ads through a statewide business publication (New Hampshire Business Review) and the statewide newspaper (Union Leader); direct mailers to promote two graduate start dates; and online ads through retargeting, pay-per-click, and social media.

Solution

After a 6-month campaign, the undergraduate campaign resulted in 851 form submissions (generated leads). The undergraduate pay-per-click (PPC) campaign finished with an 8.25% click through rate (average is 3%) and the display campaign finished with .36% click through rate (average is .2%). Both the graduate and division of online and continuing studies (DOCS) campaigns finished with similar results and generated a combined 1.6 million impressions, 2,591 clicks and 54 form submissions.

During the campaign, Millennium produced a short, engaging video used for online advertising to help increase recruitment. The video accumulated over 100,000 views. In the 6-month period, this video became the most viewed video on Plymouth State University’s YouTube channel. In total, for all online advertising activity during the campaign; search advertising campaigns generated 853,251 impressions and 9,528 clicks; display advertising campaigns generated 27,209,969 impressions and 43,625 clicks; and the video advertising campaign generated 106,167 views and 4,077 clicks.

Due to the exceptional success of the first campaign, Millennium was selected again for the following academic year to execute a subsequent campaign with all new creative, goals, and a substantially larger budget. New leadership at the university, along with new strategic values and objectives, presented Millennium with an even greater challenge. On a similarly short timeline, Millennium conducted primary and secondary research including interviews with key stakeholders, focus groups, and competitor analysis.

The creative campaign – Experience Education – included strategic messaging by audience (undergraduate and graduate) and lead-generating microsites.

Through market research, Millennium identified areas of opportunity that aligned with undergraduate recruitment goals in New Haven/Hartford, Connecticut and Albany, Schenectady, and Troy, New York. Graduate program promotion was targeted within commuting distance of Plymouth, since these programs had a classroom component. The campaign was executed through Twitter, retargeting, online display, video, PPC, social media, regional TV advertising with high-impact creative, direct mail for graduate programs, and more.

Millennium also identified the opportunity for PSU to increase awareness of its supportive community for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered, and Questioning (LGBTQ+) students. The firm worked to secure article and op-ed placements that share PSU’s encouragement of its LGBTQ+ students to be themselves. The public relations campaign also worked to raise awareness about PSU’s related initiatives, including the President’s Commission on Diversity, its contributions to the worldwide video “It Gets Better,” the University’s SAGE Center and Safe Zone initiative, as well as it becoming one of a growing number of universities across the country to host an annual Lavender Graduation.

Results

In the enrollment year following this campaign, PSU experienced a record year, the likes of which many institutions never experience. The University received more than 7,000 applications, more than 5,500 acceptances, and more than 1,600 deposits, with a goal of just 935 deposits. In fact, the campaign was so successful the University stopped accepting new applicants.

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