March 4

5 Oscar-Inspired Event Marketing Ideas for Colleges


Event Marketing Ideas for Colleges:

Whether your next event is going to be an open house, campus visit, alumni reception or bestowing an honorary doctorate on academy-award winner Meryl Streep, the 86th annual Academy Awards provided some event marketing ideas for colleges!  Here are five ideas to give your next campus event the Hollywood treatment!

1. Engage Social Media

Ellen Dengeneres did an excellent job of utilizing social media during the event (with a little help from Samsung). Not only was the broadcast a perfect example of marketing through the “Second Screen,” it also had several event marketing ideas for colleges that you can do without a blockbuster budget:

  • Be sure to utilize hashtags for multiple exposure. 
    Every event on your campus should have a hashtag (more than like your #campusname). In addition, special events might also include a more generic hashtag to get more exposure outside of the immediate circles. Learn more about best practices for hashtags in my popular ebook: #Hashtags: Your Social Media Secret Weapon (free download).
  • Ask for Retweets
    Yes, it is true, Ellen broke Twitter by creating the record of retweets with her “selfie” photo she created with several other celebrities. While your campus event will probably not bring down the social network, using similar strategies to create group selfies tagged with your event will certainly bring additional exposure to your school’s brand. Be sure to ask people to retweet it as well!
  • Promote the event with social media (both before and after)
    Some of Ellen’s tweets show the “behind the scenes” prep for the show. She also has several additional tweets from the next day. Be sure your event has a timeline beyond the day of the event.

2. Give Your Guests the Red-Carpet Treatment

There is a little known fact about the Academy Awards and the red carpet: red-carpet escorts. While these “celebrity-whisperers” have a specific job to inform and help the celebrity navigate the media, what’s not to say you can’t use the concept. Be sure that on high-impact events (donor dinners, student visit days) assign student escorts to your “celebrities.” These students can assure that your guests are where they need to be and are getting an example of your finest students. Be sure to adequately train the students and help give them tools to provide the very best experience.

3. Hand Out Swag

While your school is not going to hand out swag bags with $85,000 worth of merchandise, be sure to consider some kind of memento for your visitors. For visit days, consider apparel or other items that have the ability to “broadcast” your name: smart t-shirts, string back-packs and others are always sure bets. Don’t forget younger siblings: have crayons and branded coloring books for them. For alumni and donors, consider higher end pens, journals, and other business related items that could be conversation starters at the office or over coffee. Even the smallest of gestures (branded mints, water bottles, and posters) can leave an impression.

4. Rich Media Content

The foot-tapping, infectious song “Happy” by Pharrell Williams was just one of the nominated musical numbers performed during the evening. Whatever your venue might include, be sure to use rich media content. Here are some ways to include rich media content in your event marketing ideas for colleges.

  • Use Rich Media Behind Performance
    All of the musical numbers included a large video screen and used multi-media. Whether it the moon rising during Karen O’s The Moon Song  performance or Pink’s tribute to Judy Garland, rich media can add a dimension to your communications.
  • Infographics around Campus
    Consider other “out of the box” techniques including infographics around campus. Chalk, an art student, and relevant statistics could make a big impact for your visitors.
  • Email Promotion
    Be sure to include rich media content on your website and email prior to the event. Statistics show that emails with rich content such as video have more than a 24% greater conversion rate than static images.

5. Don’t Forget the Parents

Several of the celebrities of this year’s academy awards were escorted by their mothers. Just about every prospective student will do the same. How do you engage the parents during your visit days and events? Are there separate tracks for them to answer their most pressing questions regarding campus safety, financial aid, and student support?

Don’t forget, mothers are the #1 influencer of college decisions.

Love to continue the conversation: what are additional event marketing ideas for colleges from your perspective? Add a comment below.

For more ideas, contact us and we’ll put together even more creative solutions for your particular needs!

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