Enrolment to Alumni: Building Relationships that Last


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"Enrolment to Alumni" summarizes a graduate study in communication management of how U.S. and Canadian universities build relationships with their students. The researcher performed 17 interviews with university communicators to uncover best practices in the areas of relationship management, community building and dialogic communications. The study also evaluated how four components of relationship marketing: seller expertise, communication, interaction frequency, and relationship benefits can be utilized in the university environment. The slides show the summary of best practices from across North American universities in the areas of strategy, tactics and measurement, and how to achieve mutually beneficial relationships with students from enrolment to alumni. The results demonstrate how universities that incorporate a relationship strategy are able to build community and create value at every phase of the student life cycle.

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Enrolment to Alumni: Building Relationships that Last

  2. 2. Transition from Discrete to Relational Exchanges“The New Social Contract”: Wehave transitioned from a discreteexchange to a relational exchange;ever purchase has an opportunityfor another (Macneil,1980).“…relational exchange transpiresover time; each transaction must beviewed in terms of its history and itsanticipated future” (Dwyer, Schurr,Sejo, 1987). The Relationship Development Process according to Scanzoni (1979)Phase 1 Phase 2 Phase 3 Phase 4 Phase 5Awareness Exploration Expansion Commitment Dissolution
  3. 3. Relationship MarketingRelationship Marketing: “Refers to allmarketing activities directed towardsestablishing, developing andmaintaining, successful relationalexchanges” (Morgan & Hunt, 1994).“synthesis of marketing, customerservice and qualitymanagement” (Christopher et al. 1991).“Relationship marketing emphasizes along-term interactive relationshipbetween the supplier and thecustomer, and long-term profitabilitywith each partner in a win-winsituation”(Worthington,1996).
  4. 4. Relationship ManagementPublic Relations isRelationship Management:“We have started to conceptualizepublic relations as relationshipmanagement” (Bruning, 2000).§  “organizations and publics needto determine common interestsand shared goals” (Lendingham,2004).§  “link exists betweenorganization-public relationshipsand outcomes such as enhancedsatisfaction and improved levelsof loyalty” (Bruning, 2000).
  5. 5. Relationship Marketing TechniquesRelationshipbenefits arepart ofestablishingandmaintaining therelationship viacommunicationand socialengagement.u  Seller Expertise: refers to the proficiency with which an organization utilizes to “sell”its product. It includes cross-training techniques in order to create a more informed seller on allaspects the buyer may want information concerning the organization. The focus is on the buyer, inso much as the end goal is to create a better service atmosphere in the buyer-seller exchange.u  Communication: refers to the strategic use communications in order to establish andmaintain a relationship with an audience.u  Interaction Frequency: the frequency which an organization and its public interactin person or online.u  Relationship Benefits: Advantages or rewards gained from establishing,participating in and maintaining a relationship with an organization.(Palmatier, 2006; Journal of Marketing)
  6. 6. Relationship Marketing & Enrolmentu  Goal: “building a relationship from themoment of inquiry until after graduation…enhance the student experience and meet thestudent’s needs”(Vander Schee, 2010).u  Outcome: “12% increase in enrollment at bothinstitutions, student satisfaction increased, andcomplaints decreased to zero in one year.Simultaneously, job satisfaction and productivityincreased on the administrative side” (VanderSchee, 2010).Four Components of RelationshipMarketing applied to universityenrolment in two AmericanUniversities:q  Seller Expertiseq  Communicationq  Interaction Frequencyq  Relationship Benefits
  7. 7. Relationship Building Strategies for University RetentionCommunicatevalue to thestudentsMaximizeopportunitiesfor socialengagementFosterCommunityCreate opportunitiesfor students to developrelationships withuniversity reps.Bruning, 2000
  8. 8. Research ProblemCommunicationStrategyRelationshipbuilding tacticsFeedback &MeasurementWhat are the best practices forbuilding long-term, mutually beneficialrelationships with students during theiryears at the university?
  9. 9. Research Questions1. What relationship management strategies do university communicatorsemploy to establish long-term mutually beneficial relationships with thestudent body?2. What are the current techniques among university communicators with regardto student relationship building?3. How do universities evaluate their success in relationship building students?
  10. 10. Methodology§  Qualitative study of university practitioners in a managementposition§  36 item questionnaire§  Questions formulated with Relationship Management Theory &Relationship Marketing Techniques§  Three areas: Strategy, Tactics, and Measurement§  17 Qualitative interviews§  1-2 hours in length
  11. 11. Organizations Studiedo  Participantsvaried in:o  Job titleso  Audienceo  EnrolmentSizeo  Public v.Private10 American:Ø  8 Cal-StateØ  1 privateØ  1 UC in the top30 in the worldrankingsSix Canadian:Ø  5 OntarioØ  1 QuebecØ  1 top 20 in theworld rankings
  12. 12. §  Director of Public Affairs§  Vice Provost of StudentServices§  Dean of Student Affairs§  Alumni Advancement§  Dean of Graduate Studies§  Director of Student Life§  Dean of Students§  Director of Social Media§  VP of Communications§  VP Students & RegistrarParticipant Job Titles
  13. 13. Results: Communication StrategiesReputation &Affinity BuildingStudent CitizenshipCommunity-Building
  14. 14. Peer to PeerCommunicationsActivationCommunicationAccess toStudent LeadersDialogicCommunicationsInteractiveSocial MediaCommunityBuildingActivitiesShared MissionStatementInter-DepartmentalPlanning & EvalBest Practice: Tactics
  15. 15. Results: Measurement & FeedbackMeasurementOpen & ClickRatesInteractiveSocial MediaOpen ForumsFeedbackLoopsStudent FocusGroupsEvaluations &SurveysEventAttendanceQualitative EmailMeasurement
  16. 16. UniversityAdministrationCollaborationsTown HallsCross-TrainingStudentinputBi-MonthlyMeetingsCampusComm.Groups“State ofthe Union”Staff Dev.CurriculumShareMissionBest Practices:
  17. 17. FreshmanClass GroupsTimelyResponseProvide infonot availableanywhere elseOpen &TransparentSM CrisisMonitoringUse Storify tocombinechannelsAdapt to newchannelsquicklyMemes“Super” UserDialogicFacebookChatPeer to PeerBest Practices:Social Media
  18. 18. From Enrolment to AlumniAwareness Enrolment ExplorationEngagedStudentGraduationActiveAlumniIdeal Student Life CycleRelationship Management Best Practice:Maximize the opportunities to demonstrate commitment,communicate shared goals and establish trust withregular social engagement and dialogic communicationat each life cycle stage.
  19. 19. Contribution to the Practice§  This study contributes best practices in the areas ofstrategy, tactics and measurement for creating andimplementing a community-building strategy forrelationship management.
  20. 20. Limitations and Further Research§  Variety of departments with different goals; audiences§  Limited to two distinct geographic regions; California andOntario§  Large sample from Cal-State School system§  The study did not look at the student perspective§  Unable to measure interaction frequency quantitatively§  No qualitative analysis of print materials and communications.