Top 5 Session Picks for AMA Higher Ed 2018

With less than a month to go until the start of AMA Higher Ed, it’s officially time to download the conference app and pencil out your schedule for what is sure to be an action-packed few days. After missing last year’s conference, I’m even more determined to avoid any cases of FOMO and have reviewed the speaker lineup to curate my top five picks.

Session:

  • Trends and Tactics for Higher Ed Executives on Social Media and the People Who Support Them with Gail Martineau, Senior Social Media Manager, The Ohio State University; Josie Ahlquist, Research Associate, Digital Engagement & Leadership Consultant, Florida State University; and Liz Gross, Founding Director, Campus Sonar. Monday, November 5, 10:15 – 11:45am

Why I Picked It:

  • The NY Times recently published a must-read for higher ed marketers on what they dubbed “the iGen Shift” in which the author states, “A new generation is now on campus … [that is] driving shifts, subtle and not, in how colleges serve, guide and educate them, sending presidents and deans to Instagram and Twitter.” That transformation is typically happening a lot faster than the operations of higher ed marketing units, which often still have a team of one dedicated to the university’s social media accounts. With more and more leaders turning to social media as an authentic channel to amplify their messages and make an impact, this session is sure to be jam-packed with takeaways and insights from an analysis of 45k+ posts from Presidents/VPs to implement on your campus.

 

Session:

  • How Sweet Briar College Found Its FIERCE (Brand) with Melissa Richards, Vice President, Sweet Briar College. Monday, November 5, 11:15am – 12:00pm

Why I Picked It:

  • It’s been exciting to see the meaningful integration between marketing, branding, and enrollment that has led to a major comeback from crisis at Sweet Briar College. A new President, a revamped curriculum, and a tuition reset have all been part of the turnaround that has caught many people’s attention. The most recent accolade saw Sweet Briar singled out as one of the nation’s Most Innovative Schools in US News & World Report. I’m looking forward to hearing about the transformation and purposeful innovation firsthand from Melissa.

 

Session: 

  • Lessons Learned: Presidential Transitions and Elevating Your University’s Profile to Gain Competitive Advantage with Amber Epling, Director of Presidential Communications and Jennifer Kirksey, Chief of Staff, Ohio University. Monday, November 5, 3:00 – 3:45pm

Why I Picked It:

  • With shorter tenure among Presidents the norm today, more higher ed marketers are likely to experience a transition of this magnitude at their institutions. With regular change and the possible turbulence that comes along with it, I’m intrigued to hear Ohio University share their case study that covers the three main stages in the process: the presidential farewell, the presidential search, and the presidential introduction.

 

Session:

  • 7 Potholes to Avoid on the Road to Brand-ville with Jack Chielli, Vice President for Enrollment Management, Marketing & Communications, Mount Saint Mary’s University and Elizabeth Johnson, CEO and Partner, SimpsonScarborough. Tuesday, November 6, 10:15 – 11:00am

Why I Picked It:

  • Although the “b-word’ (brand) is more widely accepted on campuses today, the process of branding is no walk in the park. From unexpected crises, lack of funding, and internal politics, there are plenty of roadblocks along the way of developing an effective brand. Aside from the fact that I work with Elizabeth and know she’ll share some great examples from many of our fantastic clients, this is a session that all attendees are guaranteed to leave with an immediately actionable list of do’s and don’ts.

 

Session:

  • Making Change: Growing a Seed in a Culture of Silos with Erin Petrotta, Director of Marketing & Student Communication and Megan Horton, Director of Branding & Digital Strategy, Oklahoma State University. Tuesday, November 6, 4:00 – 4:45pm

Why I Picked It:

  • I’m fascinated by the continued evolution of the marketing department within higher ed. While the current reach of marketing is significant at many universities, there are often limitations and challenges that inhibit the CMO and her department from playing a truly strategic role on campus. One key shift I’m seeing across the best-in-class marketing departments is the true integration and partnership they build and foster across campus (albeit if it takes years). I’m looking forward to hearing how Oklahoma State used the success of a pilot project to align marketing, communications, and enrollment departments and move the needle on institutional-level goals.

 

Those are my top five, although the agenda (now available online) is full of sessions that are worth checking out. I’m looking forward to a great conference and hope to connect with you. Stop by our booth (#308) to say hello! See you in Orlando!

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