When someone first goes to the website of Washtenaw Community College, web surfers are greeted by smiling, polished faces looking back at them. As students at WCC, the first thought that comes to mind is, “Are those really supposed to be our fellow students?” A simple Google image reverse search will answer that question – it really isn’t. Google pulls up pages upon pages of websites also showcasing those same smiling, supposed students.
For many prospective students, their college’s website is the first thing they know of their future school – why not present them with the faces of their fellow campus inhabitants?
Eastern Michigan University actually employed a marketing tactic in their campaign, TRUEMU, which addresses this question. According to EMU’s website, the fourth phase of the TRUEMU marketing campaign in 2014 features 100 faculty researchers on light-post banners throughout Ypsilanti and EMU’s campus, as well as on 24 billboards along major Metro Detroit highways.
“The first campaign phase was introduced in Aug. 2011, featuring current TRUEMU students in TV, radio, billboard, print and online ads. The second phase, launched in Sept. 2012, spotlighted 20 all-star faculty members on light-post banners and area highway billboards. The third phase, which began in Sept. 2013, highlighted 100 alumni for their individual achievements on light-post banners and area highway billboards,” according to EMU’s website.
With the small distance between our campus and theirs, following in the footsteps of our neighbors would not be a bad idea. There is a possibility that WCC’s own marketing campaign, “What do you call a WCC student? Employed,” utilizes photos of actual WCC students. However, since that campaign was first launched, the Marketing Department has seen an entirely new staff come through, according to members of the department, so we can’t entirely say for sure.
With WCC having a well-known, high-quality photography program and a successful student and alumni body to pick from, it seems as though the conditions are just right for there to be a campaign launched to showcase the actual WCC student success stories while also advertising the college itself.
There could be an interdepartmental collaboration between the Marketing Department and the Digital Media Arts Department. If this idea was implemented, it could be treated like an assignment for photography and digital video production students. The former could take the selected student’s headshot, and the latter could record them discussing their own successes. Design students could then create the actual banners that would be used.
So not only would it tap the talents of these students and allow them to feel they’re contributing to their school, they can also feel like they are contributing to their own education along the way. It would also insource the cost of advertising by using student’s class time to create it.
A WCC-centric campaign would not only highlight students, but it would stand testament to the institutional quality WCC offers. As the college newspaper, we try our best to display the successes of our student body, but what better way to give them the spotlight they deserve than to use their stories to advertise the school that gave them their start?