Study at Samford: Join JMC

In developing a PR plan to recruit new students, a strategic plan is essential.  I would utilize Ketchum’s Strategic Planning Model in order to determine how to go out and entice students to study Journalism at Samford.

Facts: In order to effectively recruit, it is necessary to have a good understanding of your competition.  In the Facts stage, information is gathered on recent industry trends, competitors, strengths, and general information on the product.  It is important to look where else students who are currently interested in JMC are applying, and also important to know why current students chose Samford’s program over another school’s.  Also, this is the phase where Samford JMC really begins to detemine what its image is going to be for this PR effort. You determine what the significant characteristics of the product are.  In the case of JMC, small class size, liberal arts education, Christian environment, student teacher ratio, internship opportunities, and the quality of professors are just a few characteristics that could be used to differentiate our program from others.  Researching the competition and playing to our competitive strengths will help bring students in, because we are showing off the things that we do better than the other schools they are considering attending.

Goals: It is important to begin with the end in mind.  Goals should always be measurable, so you can easily determine the effectiveness of your campaign.  Two factors to consider when making goals are time frame and sources of new buisness.  It is important to set both short and long term goals that directly correlate with business objectives.  If JMC wants to have 10 more students sign up as majors for the fall of 2011, there need to be goals that work to meet that.  For example, setting up a JMC fair in Ben Brown one day to recruit current undecided students would be an effective action to start to meet that goal.  Setting a goal saying we will make “more” promotional materials this year is not a good goal.  “More” does not explain a measurable change: it could be 1 more or 100.  Also through goals you can target sectors that will produce growth for you.  JMC could decide to recruit 10% more males and 5% more minorities every year, since those are areas that could experience great growth, but it might be hard to cause a spike in the number of females, since they are already the majority of the program.

Audience: To carry out this part of the plan, I would first survey current students in the JMC program to determine why they chose Samford and how they feel about it now.  This information can be used to target new audiences and to determine the current mindset.  I would also want to survey people who are current students who considered joining the JMC program but decided not to, in order to have a better understanding of why.  This information would help know how multiple audiences feel about the product, and we could adjust our marketing of the program accordingly.

Key Message: This is the idea that must be communicated in order to change or reinforce mindsets.  In the case of JMC, we need to communicate that not only is Samford the best place for students to come for college, but JMC is the major that will grant students the greatest utility in real world application.  In order to effectively market JMC, we must first effectively recruit for Samford, because if a student does not commit to Samford, then they definitely will not be majoring in JMC.  Then we can recruit for the program by demonstrating the success of graduates, the enjoyment of current students, and the skills that are acquired in the program that can easily translate into many different careers.

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