Karine Joly No Comments

kevin anselmoKevin Anselmo, Founder of Experiential Communication, is one of the 12 higher ed professionals presenting at the 2015 Higher Ed Content Conference (April 15).

In this 3-question interview, Kevin discusses the state of content at his institution, how he measures content performance and shares some advice to create content for higher ed.

1) Digital content has been an afterthought in higher ed for a long time. Would you say that content has now the place it deserves in institutions?

No. Sure, there are institutions out there that are doing some very nice work in terms of content creation. But on the whole, there is much work that needs to be done in getting the entire institution on board with content efforts.

Let me give you an example. When working at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, I was Dan Ariely’s PR guy. Dan is a media star – numerous weekly press mentions and features, a well read blog and a huge social media following that was benefitting both himself individually as well as the school. In actuality, I had very little to do with Dan Ariely’s “media empire”. I’d say 90 percent of his output was the direct result of his own efforts. I put more of a priority on convincing, educating and supporting other faculty members to do the same (though on a smaller scale and taking into account their different overall objectives).

I think this “mobilizing of ambassadors” is one of the most important tasks of a communicator today, and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. It requires that we as communicators are aware of the constant changes in the communications / PR landscape. We need to be on top of our games in communicating messages in compelling ways. We also need the strategies and tactics in place to educate our colleagues. We need to utilize our presentation and teaching skills (or to develop those skills if not comfortable in these areas). Most importantly, we have to put our psychology skills to use by pulling the levers to motivate and inspire our colleagues who often times don’t see the value of these efforts.

2) How do you measure the performance and/or the impact of your content at your school? How does this help you with the content creation process?

Half the battle is having an understanding about the overall objectives of an institution. Why are we creating content? What are the goals? The combination of leadership not clearly cascading their big picture goals, and us as communicators not taking the initiative to either find out or connect existing dots together, makes it difficult to even figure out what we should be measuring to begin with.

Another mistake is looking at vanity metrics: open rates, likes and followers, etc. But do these numbers matter if they are not accomplishing the overall goal? Before we start measuring, we need to know why we are measuring.

To illustrate this, I was working last year with a school that specializes in executive education. I was creating content for this school with the goal of generating new sales. The content was in the form of mini case studies of previous client successes. Once finished, the content was connected to the sales process. These articles were read by a very small number of people as it was very much niche content. But we were able to clearly see how the content was leading to new clients.

We also need to do a better job of maximizing content. Too often, we take one piece of content and use it for one function. It is far better to take a piece of content and leverage it across the institution. Karl Moore, a professor at McGill University, was recently a guest on my higher education communications podcast. Karl does a CEO interview series in which he does a video interview with a CEO or thought leader. He and his colleagues use this content in a number of ways, including in media relations, career services, at alumni events, from a marketing perspective, in his research and in the classroom.

3) Can you share the best piece of advice or lesson you learned about creating content for higher ed?

I know there have been times that I created content for content’s sake. There have been instances when influential professors or superiors have requested content for some reason or another. Earlier in my career, I would go my merry way and create that content without asking the necessary questions up front: what is our overall content strategy, how does this content request fit into that strategy, what does success look like, etc. I have since learned the importance of being strategic about everything that I – and now my clients – are doing.

I encourage you to think about formulating a content mission statement for every content initiative that you are a part of. Your editorial mission statement should be directly related to your overarching strategy. The editorial mission statement should answer the following:

Who is your core audience?
What will you deliver to them?
What is the outcome for this audience from the content?

This will help you tremendously in being strategic and focused. It will reduce the likelihood of investing your time and energy in disconnected content journeys.

Higher Ed Content Conference Line-Up