We’ve all heard it. It’s the refrain from passionate board members, senior administrators and others in the university community that oversimplifies and undervalues our role as marketers.
book pages
“We just need to tell our story better.”

More often than not, that comment can be safely interpreted as, “I think we should be on the front page of the NY Times, and the lead story on all national news. And since we’re not, it’s a marketing failure. If they’d just tell our story better, we’d absolutely be on the front page.” Yeah. Not so much.

But here’s the thing. We do need to tell our stories better, because stories matter. A lot. The work we do in Higher Education and the people who do it are absolutely amazing and worth the (digital) ink. Maybe not always to big media publishers, but these stories still matter to our brand. A lot.

Just recently the “Hit The Ground Running” section of FastCompany.com published an article on why we crave stories in our marketing. There’s a cool infographic with it too. So there’s science behind our need to tell and to experience stories, and as marketers, we need to recognize this and tell great stories.

It’s not always easy though. We’re often buried under reporting our rankings, statistics, yield rates, alumni donor percentages, event logistics and grant dollar amounts—the straight facts. We look for those data points that set us apart from the competition, and we let the numbers speak for themselves.

But numbers rarely tell the most compelling, memorable, interesting and influential stories. It’s the people, the place and the work that make those numbers. That’s where you’ll find the stories. That’s where you’ll find the soul of your brand.

More important than landing a story on the front page of whatever big media channel, is telling a story that your audience cares about. Tell a story that gives your brand depth of character and value beyond the facts. Tell a story people will remember.

This week on Marketing Live, we’re talking to two content professionals (Georgy Cohen and Dave Pond), both of whom have done exceptional work in higher education, about storytelling. We’ll talk about finding and creating great stories, and ways that story-driven content plays a critical role in Higher Ed marketing efforts.

Join us Live on Thursday, August 21st at 1p.m. EST.


Article Author

Tim Jones

Tim Jones

Associate Vice President of Marketing
Clarkson University

Tim Jones is the Associate Vice President of Marketing at Clarkson University in Potsdam, N.Y., where he leads Clarkson’s marketing, branding, messaging, creative and digital strategy. His efforts focus on long-term strategic goals for admissions, student and alumni engagement, fundraising success, academic research and peer outreach. Prior to joining Clarkson University, Tim was the Executive Creative Director at North Carolina State University in Raleigh, N.C., helping to redefine NC State’s market position and transform its communications approach at the intersection of the web, design, marketing, and media. Tim also served in a transition role as the interim chief communications officer at NC State, helping evolve a staff of 40 into a best-in-class internal marketing and communications agency. Tim started at NC State as the university’s first director of web communications, working to establish the university’s award-winning complete digital presence.


Tim Jones

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