Secrets of show don't tell

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Millennials can smell marketing-speak a mile away. So why does higher ed still write things like this? …

Millennials can smell marketing-speak a mile away. So why does higher ed still write things like this?

"[Insert school here] delivers an exemplary learning experience that engages the best and brightest people, challenging them to meet ever-higher standards in the classroom and beyond."

"Show, Don't Tell" is a communication tactic that presents sensory details and substantive facts and lets people come to their own conclusions. It's easy to tell people what you want them to think, but when you give them the freedom to reach their own conclusions, they'll believe them.

In "Secrets of Show Don't Tell," David Poteet (President, NewCity) outlines the essentials of this communication tool and shows you colleges and universities that are doing it well.

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  • 1. Secrets of Show Don’t Tell Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 2. Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 3. Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 4. Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 5. http://www.rhw.com/youll-laugh-youll-cry/ Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 6. Show Don’t Tell 1.Give sensory details and substantive facts. 2.Let them come to their own conclusions. 3.They’ll realize it with far greater conviction. Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 7. Illustrations by Ryan Bahm © 2012 Sensory Details Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 8. Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 9. Substantive Facts Favorite Higher Ed Facts: - Average class size - Teacher to student ratio - # of majors - # of student organizations - # of countries students come from But what proves your key messages? Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 10. Show Don’t Tell is NOT Just adding pictures and video to your website. It is content of any sort (including text) that demonstrates or proves important truths about your organization. Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 11. Top Things Higher Ed Likes to Tell Academic quality Top faculty Beautiful location Global perspective Hands-on, real-world learning Small / Big / Just Right Diversity Prepare you for success Fun student life Affordable Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 12. Tell me about your study abroad program The Spoleto Study Abroad Summer Session is an intensive interdisciplinary program focusing on the arts and humanities for high school students, ages 15-19, interested in instrumental or vocal music, visual arts, photography, creative writing or drama. Students are given the opportunity to explore their academic and artistic interests through exposure to an integrated style of learning in a unique European se ing. The mission of the program is to provide a challenging and innovative experience for students who have the desire to expand their knowledge while immersed in a diverse and vibrant culture. Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 13. Tell me about your study abroad program The Spoleto Study Abroad Summer Session is an intensive interdisciplinary program focusing on the arts and humanities for high school students, ages 15-19, interested in instrumental or vocal music, visual arts, photography, creative writing or drama. Students are given the opportunity to explore their academic and artistic interests through exposure to an integrated style of learning in a unique European se ing. The mission of the program is to provide a challenging and innovative experience for students who have the desire to expand their knowledge while immersed in a diverse and vibrant culture. Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 14. How could you show? intensive interdisciplinary integrated unique challenging innovative diverse vibrant Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 15. On any given higher ed site you might find... Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 16. Who are the faces of Emory & Henry? They are students, professors, staff members, alumni.All parts of our college community, yet they all look different, representing a world of values, beliefs, and interests. There are the students – bright, vibrant, excited to get involved and affect positive change in the world. And the professors, a group of men and women who not only teach but form strong friendships with their students.There are the alumni, the Emory & Henry students of years past, who look back on their time here with nostalgia and appreciation. All of these faces look different. Each person comes here with individual goals, personal motivation. But at Emory & Henry, they are unified by fundamental principles – freedom, civic justice, service to others, and respect for their peers.They make up the face of Emory & Henry. Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 17. My son is looking at schools in Virginia What can you tell me about Emory & Henry? Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 18. Ten students cross the quad laughing to each other. Professor Martin takes the front steps of the dorm two at a time and holds the door open. One whispers,“I can’t believe we’re doing this.” The group gathers in front of room 312. Professor Martin knocks twice.The door opens to wide eyes followed by “Dr. Martin, oh – I totally overslept…” “No problem Jen. It’s not the same without you, so we thought we’d bring class to you this morning. Mind if we come in?” “Um, sure, I guess, it’s a mess, I mean sure – come in guys.” On Friday,April 23rd,“PHIL 211 History of Ancient and Medieval Philosophy” was eleven students and their professor in a dorm room made for two. This is Emory and Henry College. Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 19. My son is looking at schools in Virginia What can you tell me about Emory & Henry? Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 20. Uncovering great “show” material Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 21. Uncovering great “show” material Tell me a story about someone or something that exemplifies your institution at its best Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 22. Uncovering great “show” material Tell me a story about someone or something that exemplifies your institution at its best You’re talking to someone at a college fair, and they ask you about your program in ______. What do you tell them to prove it’s great? Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 23. Uncovering great “show” material Tell me a story about someone or something that exemplifies your institution at its best You’re talking to someone at a college fair, and they ask you about your program in ______. What do you tell them to prove it’s great? How do you describe your institution to someone who’s trying to figure out if it’s the right fit for them? Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 24. Uncovering great “show” material Tell me a story about someone or something that exemplifies your institution at its best You’re talking to someone at a college fair, and they ask you about your program in ______. What do you tell them to prove it’s great? How do you describe your institution to someone who’s trying to figure out if it’s the right fit for them? If you could drop me into the middle of three experiences that would make me love your institution, what would they be? Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 25. University of Portsmouth Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 26. Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 27. Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 28. Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 29. The teaching buildings are in close proximity to halls of residence and the city centre and you will have access to the latest facilities in a modern and comfortable environment. The University has added an £11 million extension to the library, making it a modern, light and attractive space for learning. It has ample study spaces, a new café, more spaces for books and journals and open access areas for IT. There is also continuing development of excellent elearning resources. In addition, ICJS has designated forensic facilities (including a forensics house and forensics vehicle), where crime scenes are simulated and students are asked to undertake a broad range of practical detection and recovery techniques therein. Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 30. The teaching buildings are in close proximity to halls of residence and the city centre and you will have access to the latest facilities in a modern and comfortable environment. The University has added an £11 million extension to the library, making it a modern, light and attractive space for learning. It has ample study spaces, a new café, more spaces for books and journals and open access areas for IT. There is also continuing development of excellent elearning resources. In addition, ICJS has designated forensic facilities (including a forensics house and forensics vehicle), where crime scenes are simulated and students are asked to undertake a broad range of practical detection and recovery techniques therein. Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 31. Research Methods 6 Focus Groups using KJ Method One-on-one interviews with first- year Portsmouth students Carewords survey with 288 people from all audiences Analysis of search logs Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 32. Misperceptions about Portsmouth Depressed former naval town Sideways rain Not academically-minded Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 33. Top questions and info sought Courses (Majors) Reviews & rankings Costs Accommodation Location Atmosphere Entry requirements & application process Jobs & careers Student life Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 34. Top choice and fit factors Having a great experience Student resources Setting & Location Easy affordable, things nearby Can you relax in the place? Atmosphere, environment Good student work space/equipment Feel safe Entry requirements Near shops Lecturers are approachable, think well of their students Course: content, structure Accreditation After graduation jobs Ranking Get on with other students Cost of living Opportunities as a student Got the info I needed at the end of preview day Is it enjoyable? (Course) matches the job I want Easy to get home GREAT EXPERIENCE GOOD LOCATION THE RIGHT COURSE RESPECTED AFFORDABLEFIT IN FRIENDLY & HELPFUL Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 35. Portsmouth is NOT Traditional, old buildings, ivy and tranquil quads Pretentious High pressure Quiet college town Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 36. Personas Maria • works hard, has good college scores • wants to study International Relations & Spanish • Wants to work at an embassy • Considering going on to a postgraduate degree Daniel • good student but has struggled academically • doesn’t test well due to slight dyslexia • not sure which course he’ll take, maybe computing & technology • can he get help & not be stressed out? Christian • international student finishing his IB • UK degree is more respected by employers • wants to be able to work outside his home country • Getting recommendations from a local agency Sophie • In her early 30s, took time out from school to start a family • Currently enrolled in college • wants to become a teacher • Can only consider universities nearby Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 37. Portsmouth Bournemouth Plymouth Brighton Southampton Leading modern university with strong reputation for teaching & research Bright Ideas, Bright People The Enterprise University A leading professional university Combines academic excellence with innovative, entrepreneurial approach to research High quality teaching reputation for excellence in teaching Excellence in teaching & support Teach you differently (by top researchers) strong reputation for research world-class research strong research record Research is our lifeblood Many academics are int’l leaders in their fields Academic expertise taught by and work alongside world class experts taught by top researchers Great student satisfaction great social experience Powerful player in economic & cultural life of SW England Strong in Arts Outstanding facilities Investing in facilities Facilities fit for 21st Century Investing in facilities Real-life learning Embed employability skills throughout experience help you get ready for your future Emphasis on employability, excellent links with industry Business connections / strong professional orientation Career-focused Focus on enterprise The Enterprise University Great waterfront location Great location/cosmopolitan Great location Outstanding locations Innovative, pioneering Dynamic & innovative Innovative & relevant take your place at the cutting edge Flexible degrees designed around you focus on your talent Come a long way in a short time A leading post-1992 university Friendly, supportive friendly and welcoming place international institution help you explore a range of global challenges vibrant, inspiring vibrant and dynamic campus remain true to values of social inclusion Opportunities for people at all stages of life Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 38. University of Portsmouth | Audience Research & Recommended Site Architecture Modified:Wed Feb 20 2013 7 COMPETITIVE MESSAGING What are you and your top competitors saying about yourselves online? What is unique or distinctive? Claims of Particular Strength / Expertise • Institute of Biomedical and Biomolecular Sciences • The Centre for European and International Research • The Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation • Applied research with business, industry, and the public and voluntary sectors • Arts & Humanities - Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries • Environment • Ageing No mention of criminal justice or languages as areas of particular strength? University of Portsmouth Main Message Leading modern university with strong reputation for teaching and research (have to dig to get this) Supporting Messages • High quality teaching • Many academics are international leaders in their fields • Great student satisfaction • Outstanding facilities • Real-life learning • Emphasis on employability, excellent links with industry and a strong record of student employability • Focus on Enterprise • Great waterfront location / city Evidence in support of claims • Highest possible rating in QAA audit • Over 240 innovative courses • Top 30 mainstream universities for overall student satisfaction - 85% satisfied or very satisfied • All new students are allocated a personal tutor • Maths Café • Real Life Learning page - Simulated learning environments like Forensics house, mock Courtroom etc. • >89% of our graduates* are in employment or further study and training. • Over £74 million invested in making learning, sport and leisure spaces the best possible between 2001–2010 • Highlight specific great places in City Portsmouth Plymouth University Main Message The Enterprise University Supporting Messages • Dynamic and innovative • World-class research - be taught by and work alongside world-class experts • Reputation for excellence in teaching • Embed employability skills throughout experience • Remain true to values of social inclusion • Students as partners in enhancing the academic experience • Great location Evidence in support of claims • Increased ranking in all 4 league tables • Awards for academic standards/quality • One of highest graduate employability rates (91% going on to employment or further study, 71% at graduate-level jobs or further study w/i 6 mo.) • Investing in ICT infrastructure • New business centre • Hiring lots of new academics (150 over 3 yrs) • High quality research (improvements in RAE, publications) • Festival of Design and Innovation Claims of Particular Strength / Expertise • medicine • architecture • business and pharmacy • sport science • education • engineering • fashion design • sustainability • ageing • diabetes • gun crime • social inclusion University of Southampton Main Message Combines academic excellence with innovative, entrepreneurial approach to research Supporting Messages • Engage and challenge students and staff in their pursuit of learning • Research is our lifeblood • Strong in Arts • friendly and welcoming place, with a vibrant and dynamic campus culture. • Take your place at the cutting edge We will: • teach you differently (by top researchers) • focus on your talent. • help you explore a range of global challenges. • help you get ready for your future. • offer you a great social experience Evidence in support of claims • One of the top 3 modern universities • top 50 in UK, 'most improved' in 2008 RAE with 80% judged of international repute • Investing in facilities Claims of Particular Strength / Expertise (have to dig in Research area to find) • Forensic archaeology • Art & Design - Computer animation • General Engineering • Communication, Cultural and Media Studies Evidence in support of claims • ...wide range of learning methods such as field trips, laboratory study, excavations, private and public sector placements, and group projects • Cool glacier field trip • We have a flight simulator! • Lots of career preparation activities & services • Lots of meaningless stats from career office • 6 campuses in all • new £8.5 million Jubilee sporting complex based at the Highfield campus • > 200 clubs and societies - everything from Aikido to Windsurfing. • our arts venues have won national and international recognition. Bournemouth University Main Message Bright Ideas, Bright People. Supporting Messages • Innovative, international institution • Academic expertise • Flexible, degrees designed around you • Business connections/strong professional orientation • Pioneering / integrated entrepreneurial approach to study • Come a long way in a short time • Great location / cosmopolitan • Powerful player in economic & cultural life of SW England • Friendly, supportive • Inspiring, vibrant Claims of Particular Strength / Expertise (have to dig in Research area to find) • marine and coastal • technology • computer science • environmental • economic and social sustainability • creative and cultural economies • health • nursing and biomedicine • dentistry • pedagogic research/innovation Evidence in support of claims • One of best teaching quality ratings in the UK, selected as Centre for Excellence in Teaching & Learning • received 5 National Teaching Fellowships • more Brighton academics working at international standards of excellence than any other post-1992 university • >88% of grads, postgrads and diplomates went into employment or further study and training • Pioneered the UK's first degrees in computing, podiatry and sports journalism. • Careers service is in regular contact with > 1800 businesses and organisations who post vacancies and attend our events and careers fairs. • > £100 million has been invested in our learning environment (includes examples) University of Brighton Main Message A leading professional university Supporting Messages • A leading professional university • Innovative and relevant • Career-focused • Opportunities for people at all kinds of life and career stages • Strong research record • A leading post-1992 university (how many prospective students care?) • Facilities fit for 21st century • Excellence in teaching & support • Outstanding locations Claims of Particular Strength / Expertise Nothing is pointed out at the higher levels of the site.You can infer some from the list of Research Centres and the research headlines. "Our researchers are tackling the most pressing challenges facing society today, including climate change, global health and renewable energy." Red = unique message Green = a version of career, employability, real-life learning message Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 39. Claims of Particular Strength / Expertise • Institute of Biomedical and Biomolecular University of Portsmouth Main Message Leading modern university with strong reputation for teaching and research (have to dig to get this) Supporting Messages • High quality teaching • Many academics are international leaders in their fields • Great student satisfaction • Outstanding facilities • Real-life learning • Emphasis on employability, excellent links with industry and a strong record of student employability • Focus on Enterprise • Great waterfront location / city Evidence in support of claims • Highest possible rating in QAA audit • Over 240 innovative courses • Top 30 mainstream universities for overall student satisfaction - 85% satisfied or very satisfied • All new students are allocated a personal tutor • Maths Café • Real Life Learning page - Simulated learning environments like Forensics house, mock Courtroom etc. • >89% of our graduates* are in employment or further study and training. • Over £74 million invested in making learning, sport and leisure spaces the best possible between 2001–2010 • Highlight specific great places in City Portsmouth Plymouth University Main Message The Enterprise University Supporting Messages • Dynamic and innovative • World-class research - be taught by and work alongside world-class experts • Reputation for excellence in teaching • Embed employability skills throughout experience • Remain true to values of social inclusion • Students as partners in enhancing the academic experience • Great location Evidence in support of claims • Increased ranking in all 4 league tables • Awards for academic standards/quality • One of highest graduate employability rates (91% going on to employment or further study, 71% at graduate-level jobs or further study w/i 6 mo.) • Investing in ICT infrastructure • New business centre • Hiring lots of new academics (150 over 3 yrs) • High quality research (improvements in RAE, publications) • Festival of Design and Innovation Cla Evidence in support of claims • One of the top 3 modern universities • top 50 in UK, 'most improved' in 2008 RAE with 80% judged of international repute • Investing in facilities Claims of Particular Strength / Expertise (have to dig in Research area to find) Bournemouth University Main Message Bright Ideas, Bright People. Supporting Messages • Innovative, international institution • Academic expertise • Flexible, degrees designed around you • Business connections/strong professional orientation • Pioneering / integrated entrepreneurial approach to study • Come a long way in a short time • Great location / cosmopolitan • Powerful player in economic & cultural life of SW England • Friendly, supportive • Inspiring, vibrant Claims of Particular Strength / Expertise (have to dig in Research area to find) Evi U Ma A le Su Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 40. Claims of Particular Strength / Expertise • Institute of Biomedical and Biomolecular Sciences • The Centre for European and International Research • The Institute of Cosmology and Gravitation • Applied research with business, industry, and the public and voluntary sectors • Arts & Humanities - Faculty of Creative and Cultural Industries • Environment • Ageing No mention of criminal justice or languages as areas of particular strength? with industry and a strong record of student employability • Focus on Enterprise • Great waterfront location / city Evidence in support of claims • Highest possible rating in QAA audit • Over 240 innovative courses • Top 30 mainstream universities for overall student satisfaction - 85% satisfied or very satisfied • All new students are allocated a personal tutor • Maths Café • Real Life Learning page - Simulated learning environments like Forensics house, mock Courtroom etc. • >89% of our graduates* are in employment or further study and training. • Over £74 million invested in making learning, sport and leisure spaces the best possible between 2001–2010 • Highlight specific great places in City Portsmouth academic experience • Great location Evidence in support of claims • Increased ranking in all 4 league tables • Awards for academic standards/quality • One of highest graduate employability rates (91% going on to employment or further study, 71% at graduate-level jobs or further study w/i 6 mo.) • Investing in ICT infrastructure • New business centre • Hiring lots of new academics (150 over 3 yrs) • High quality research (improvements in RAE, publications) • Festival of Design and Innovation Cla Evidence in support of claims • One of the top 3 modern universities • top 50 in UK, 'most improved' in 2008 RAE with 80% judged of international repute • Investing in facilities Claims of Particular Strength / Expertise (have to dig in Research area to find) • Forensic archaeology • Art & Design - Computer animation • General Engineering • Communication, Cultural and Media Studies • Great location / cosmopolitan • Powerful player in economic & cultural life of SW England • Friendly, supportive • Inspiring, vibrant Claims of Particular Strength / Expertise (have to dig in Research area to find) • marine and coastal • technology • computer science • environmental • economic and social sustainability • creative and cultural economies • health • nursing and biomedicine • dentistry • pedagogic research/innovation Evi Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 41. What we wanted people to realize Portsmouth has the right course for me A place where I can succeed Real-life learning - ALL courses required to have work-related learning. Excellent career help, with strong business connections Students love Portsmouth, proven by rankings, student reviews, lots of social activities Teachers who love to teach and care about the success of their students Seaside location, lovely campus in the heart of a thriving city Atmosphere - friendly, supportive and open Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 42. Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 43. Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 44. Campus Visit - The Ultimate “Show” Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 45. Drew University Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 46. Johnson State College Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 47. Of course the proof isn’t what a bunch of higher ed communication professionals think :-) Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 48. How can you tell what your site is showing? Brand perception test or survey before and after site visit 5 Second Test (h p://www.fivesecondtest.com) Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 49. Secrets of Show Don’t Tell Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 50. Secrets of Show Don’t Tell 1. Distill what you want people to believe about you that is both authentic and distinctive. Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 51. Secrets of Show Don’t Tell 1. Distill what you want people to believe about you that is both authentic and distinctive. 2.Uncover the evidence you have to demonstrate these truths. Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 52. Secrets of Show Don’t Tell 1. Distill what you want people to believe about you that is both authentic and distinctive. 2.Uncover the evidence you have to demonstrate these truths. 3.Explore how to “frame” that evidence in ways that will appeal to your audiences. Good storytelling is key. Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 53. Secrets of Show Don’t Tell 1. Distill what you want people to believe about you that is both authentic and distinctive. 2.Uncover the evidence you have to demonstrate these truths. 3.Explore how to “frame” that evidence in ways that will appeal to your audiences. Good storytelling is key. 4.Choose 2-3 different media can you use to convey the evidence. Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 54. Secrets of Show Don’t Tell 1. Distill what you want people to believe about you that is both authentic and distinctive. 2.Uncover the evidence you have to demonstrate these truths. 3.Explore how to “frame” that evidence in ways that will appeal to your audiences. Good storytelling is key. 4.Choose 2-3 different media can you use to convey the evidence. 5. Make a plan to develop this content on an ongoing basis. Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 55. Secrets of Show Don’t Tell 1. Distill what you want people to believe about you that is both authentic and distinctive. 2.Uncover the evidence you have to demonstrate these truths. 3.Explore how to “frame” that evidence in ways that will appeal to your audiences. Good storytelling is key. 4.Choose 2-3 different media can you use to convey the evidence. 5. Make a plan to develop this content on an ongoing basis. 6.Reduce “telling” language and trust your audiences. Wednesday, July 3, 13
  • 56. Questions? Wednesday, July 3, 13