Goals, Objectives & Strategy

In the research and analysis phase of any public relations campaign (following the R.A.C.E. formula), it is essential to determine what you want to achieve and how you want to achieve it. Therefore, it is essential to create “SMART” goals and objectives: specific, measurable, realistic, timely. For more indepth discussion, see Jim Macnamara’s article “Research in Public Relations“.

For our McMaster University social media case study, we have determined the following:

Our Strategy

To attract young women in high school who are interested in science and math to the field of engineering using current McMaster students in our outreach tactics. To convert prospective female students to application and then enrolment in the Faculty of Engineering at McMaster through a strategic social media campaign.

Communications Goals

These are the goals we are looking to achieve as McMaster University recruitment representatives.

1)   To attract more high achieving, female applicants to McMaster’s Faculty of Engineering.
2)  To increase engagement of prospective students and their influencers on social media platforms.
3)   To build awareness of McMaster engineering as a great place to study and learn.

Communications Objectives

These objectives will be addressed by implementing our social media strategy.

  • To increase the number of female applicants to McMaster Year 1 September 2013 intake by a minimum of 5%.
  • To increase the level of social media engagement between female prospective students and the Faculty of Engineering by a minimum of 10% on  the leading social media platforms (Twitter and Facebook) by September 2013.

EVALUATION

The best evaluation occurs in an on-going fashion during a campaign. First you set the initial benchmark, then you periodically check in on your goals and objectives. “Are we reaching our target objectives?” If not, then how can we adjust our campaign to take new information into consideration and re-focus in the most effective manner. It is key to recognize how we would connect our measurement to our original goals. When we can do this, the results impact our next steps/actions required to re-frame or tune up our plan.

In order to launch and successfully maintain a viral video tactic, the University needs an existing marketing infrastructure in place to drive viewers to and capture the generated interest. This means interesting destinations on its website and in social media populated with engaging content and with well-thought-out paths for conversion. It’s also essential to prepare for a campaign with excellent tracking or ‘listening tools’ to evaluation and then take further actions based on previous results. In other words, the best conversions can occur from content-based or inbound marketing with closed loop analytics and appropriate ‘social listening’.

More than just hits need to be measured. It’s a combination of hits, likes, shares and the sentiment of interactions therefore monitoring through a service like Twilert is useful when watching tweets about our project. Google alerts and Facebook analytics will also provide detailed information on what our fans and friends of fans are engaged with.

Audience & Key Messages

When researching and planning a communications campaign, it’s essential to know who you are trying to reach and why. What message would you like to send and how would you like it received?

In our case study, McMaster Engineering would like to outreach to prospective students, specifically young women. There is a national trend for post-secondary institutions to recruit more women into engineering programs, and McMaster is intent on increasing female student enrolment as well. Read more on this topic in the Toronto Star articleAs engineers retire, schools struggle to replace them.” With all of this in mind, here is our break down of the key audience for our social media marketing plan.

Key Audience:

Female High school students (ages 15- 20 yrs) in Ontario with potential admission grades of  84% or higher. These students tend to enjoy working to creatively solve problems. Sometimes they are also great team players and community leaders through volunteer organizations such as First Lego League. They gravitate toward science and math and really want to pursue a more ‘hands on’ career where they feel they can make a difference in the world.

Personality of our target prospects:

Meet Janet. She is at the top of her class and is really interested in math, science, engineering and technology. She is graduating this year and is looking forward to continuing her academic success at university.   She is on the high school swim team and plays rugby. Janet has a part-time job tutoring other high school students and volunteers at the local retirement home.  She is hardworking individual who is great at multitasking. In her spare time she enjoys the Hunger Games and Glee. She is social media savvy and enjoys watching You Tube videos, playing on Facebook and Tweeting her friends to make plans.  

Other Audiences to Consider:

Influencers are the other people in the lives of our prospects who are respected and can have great impact on life decisions. In any communications with these groups, our goal would be to ensure they consider McMaster Engineering an excellent option. We believe the key influencers in the success of increasing the amount of teenage girls applying to Engineering at McMaster would include:

  • High school Teachers & guidance counselors
  • Career & co-op counselors
  • Peers
  • Parents and other relatives
  • McMaster Alumni

We must also consider the possibility of influence coming from the media, government/elected officials, community leaders and competing post-secondary institutions. In any communications or outreach to prospects, we must always come from a place of authenticity, and not try to ‘push’ our goals on our audience. What we want to accomplish is to create awareness of McMaster’s reputation and build trust in the brand.

These are the key messages we are portraying in our campaign to reach our specific audience.

Key Messages:

1.  McMaster University offers one of Canada’s widest range of distinct engineering programs, taught by a first-class faculty of world-renowned researchers and scholars.

2. Be a part of the McMaster engineering community of engaged students, staff and faculty.

3. Experience Engineering at McMaster and have great career opportunities throughout the world.

Tactics I: our choices, our reasons

The aim of the Women in Mac Eng Video Challenge will be to engage prospective female students and their key influencers with McMaster Engineering, thereby increasing the number of female applications and female enrolment to McMaster Engineering.
Our chosen tactic for this case study is  therefore a  video contest which will be undertaken by the McMaster Faculty of Engineering in partnership with current undergraduate students from the McMaster Women in Engineering Society. The planned initiative will use a video contest as an outreach tool geared to young women in Ontario high schools (aged 16-18) who are interested in math and science.  Using YouTube as an uploading space, and Facebook and Twitter as the communication vehicles, we’ll drive folks to the McMaster Women in Mac Eng website for a contest which will initiate engagement and encourage exploration of the rest of the Faculty website .

Facebook/Twitter/YouTube

We will be working mainly with Facebook to help promote and engage our target audience and contest participants. Not only will it be an effective way to reach out to direct contest participants but through the process, they will be encouraged to “Like” and repost their videos to their news feeds, especially when voting for winners begins. This will multiply the exposure level as friends of fans become aware of and engage with our McMaster Engineering brand.

Twitter is not our main focal point as it does not provide enough detailed information prospective students would need. We are, however, using Twitter as a tool to help promote our main tactic, the Women in Mac Eng Video Contest.  Twitter allows two-way  interaction and is easily spread virally. So, we see Twitter as an effective, real time, and crucial secondary social media platform to assist the main tactic.

YouTube will be a platform where videos will be posted, but the voting for our contest will take place on our own McMaster micro-site. Not only does it make a great repository with the potential of going viral on its own, we can promote McMaster’s links under each video in the case that contestants begin to share their clips with friends. On top of that, McMasterUTV already has a well-developed channel with 1,000s of followers on YouTube. We can harness that group of followers in our promotional efforts for this tactic.

Although Storify is a very fun and creative application, this relatively new platform requires a bit of time to learn how to develop strategic tactics. It can be a great avenue for two way communication regarding the Women in Mac Eng Video Challenge if we used it to aggregate the tweets that are made about the video challenge and then post stories with these tweets. This could allow us to randomly select and promote weekly winners of extra, bonus ‘Tweet Prizes’.

In the Storify editor, social media networks can be searched to find media elements about the Storify topic.  Thus Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube can be mined for information on the Women in Mac Eng Video Challenge so we certianly see Storify as a potential adjunct to our main tactic.

And they told two friends, & they told two friends and…

A ComScore.com whitepaper, “The Power of Like” states that friends of fans represent a substantial potential audience. “A Facebook analysis of the top 100 brand pages suggests that for every Fan, there are an additional 34 friends of fans that can be reached.” (p. 10) This is powerful, because the stereotype of engineering as a ‘man’s field’ can intimidate young women considering career options. If they see other women interested in pursuing engineering, the possibility of trend-setting arises and young women find the courage to step out of traditional ‘female career’ paths.

Statistics Point the Way

  • An Ipsos study, as quoted by Webfuel.ca in their Canadian Social Media Statistics (2011) report, found the 18-34 year old demographic as the heaviest users of social media in Canada
  • 69% of Canadians who are online use social media. Of those, 91% are active on Facebook. They also found that 51% of social media users surveyed prefer to read about topics of interest and 35% research services or products (Leger Marketing)
  • More than half of  students have viewed videos about colleges
  • McMaster’s success on YouTube with McMasterUTV channel
  • More than 150 McMaster Facebook groups
  • Nearly 74,000 Facebook users in target demographic (16-18 year olds) in Canadian high schools
  • A survey from The Creative Group (2012) found, “more than half (56 percent) of advertising and marketing executives interviewed said Facebook would be their social media site of choice if they were limited to using just one”.

Tactics II: what we didn’t choose

Our team conducted ample research into the various social media platforms available. We then considered where our audience already exists, doing what we want to inspire; that is the best way to select the best channel for your communications campaign.

Here are a few of the key platforms we considered and then decided to pass on while considering an ideal tactic for our #SMRTCCE case study. See why we did not select certain platforms and how we narrowed our sample tactic choice down to our Facebook “Women in Mac Eng Video Challenge” tactic:

PINTEREST

This fairly “new” and quickly expanding social media platform offers a great visual component, we realized Pinterest is not well suited for our tactic. It has a number of unresolved issues such as copyright laws and the lack of detailed information we need to convey the McMaster Engineering message. And while the platform is growing rapidly in popularity, the key user demographic continues to be women in their 30s and above.  See more user demographic details explained in this Mashable Infographic.

We see Pinterest as a possible future adjunct to our main tactic as it is “far and away the most female-friendly social site, with a 82 percent split in favour of women, compared to 59 and 57 percent for Twitter and Facebook respectively, and just 29 percent for Google+.” ( Mediabistro.com)

For a review of higher education institution Pinterest adoption, check out the March 2012 article on “Brand Manager’s Notebook” . While there are many creative ideas for boards, our goal to reach young women would not be met directly on this platform unless we used it to influence their teachers and mothers.

CORPORATE BLOG


While a blog allows for two way communication and can provide detailed information to readers, they only have influence when many people are following them. McMaster Engineering already has an existing blog, Hear it From Her. Written by current students it is popular when new articles are posted. In terms of followers, it has had moderate response, but the key is to build a large audience organically and that has yet to happen.

The McMaster University Liaison office has incorporated the former McMaster University Blog into the new ‘future students’ section of the website. This directory is now self-hosted  on the  Wordpress platform with easy to navigate sections for comments (See http://future.McMaster.ca) The liaison office found this to be a great solution for providing information to website visitors, while allowing feedback and interactions between prospective students and staff.

There are challenges associated with blogs, however, such as perceived credibility; anyone can write a Blog its often hard to weed through what is legitimate information and what is a personal viewpoint unfounded on fact. A corporate blog may provide accurate information, but teens would likely interact better with peers than an institution they may think is ‘marketing at them’.

For example, MacInsiders  is a blog maintained by students that is very popular with both current and potential students. This demonstrates that this kind of unofficial blog is a preferred ‘place’ for student interaction.

So for this case study, we thought  it would  be better to work in more popular platform for teen girls such as Facebook or Twitter, where our target audience already enjoys congregating.

Industry Summary & Brand Personality

  • The Globe and Mail Canadian University Report 2011 gave McMaster top marks in the ‘A’ category for: quality of education, most satisfied students, campus atmosphere, and recreation and athletics
  • Research Infosource placed McMaster under the Top 10 Canadian Research Universities and in second for research intensity
  • The Times Higher Education Supplement considers McMaster one of the world’s top 100 universities
  • The Center for World Class Universities ranked McMaster in the Top 100 Universities in their “Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU)”
  • Among Canadian universities, McMaster was ranked fourth in chemical engineering, fifth in computer science, sixth in electrical and electronic engineering, seventh in mechanical, aeronautical and manufacturing engineering, and eighth in civil engineering.
  • The Center for World Class Universities ranked McMaster in the Top 100 Universities in their “Academic Ranking of World Universities (ARWU)”

Source:  http://www.eng.mcmaster.ca/news/2011/world_university_rankings.html

Personality of Brand (McMaster University, Faculty of Engineering)

McMaster University’s Faculty of Engineering, one of the world’s leading engineering schools.

McMaster Engineering is in the top ten tier of Canadian ranked university engineering faculties (see above), with highly educated staff members.  The McMaster engineering faculty was established some 54 years ago and has more than 3,100 undergraduates, 650 graduate students, and 140 faculty members.  The faculty likes to be ahead of competing Canadian universities  in terms of educational advancements, student culture and online programs.

McMaster engineering has a reputation of being liked and well-respected around the world.   The faculty of engineering takes great pride in the well-being of their students and perspective students.   McMaster’s engineering faculty covers all major disciplines and has an abundance of research centres available for their students.

 Source:  http://www.mcmaster.ca/opr/html/opr/mcmaster_brand/main/mcmaster_brand.html

Budget & Timeline

 Budget

Tactic Amount
Video contest challenge “Rube Goldberg machine: created by Mac Eng staff with Women in Engineering club members $ 500
Hire web design freelancer to produce micro-website   $1,500
Online Advertising: Google and Facebook Ads   $2,000
Printing and mail out $5,000 
Spring Reception – winners videos screened – parents, friends, students  $8,000
Prizes: Entrance Scholarships to engineering in varying amounts for each student – ONLY costs if redeemed:*1st place team: 4 winners x $500
2nd place team: 4 winners x $300 3rd place team: 4 winners x $150
$3,650*
TOTAL $20,650*

Note: Sponsors solicited for major prizes; each of the first place winning team members receives an Apple iPad (donated by the McMaster Women in Eng. Contest Prize Sponsor)

Contest Timeline

August

  • Review research, plan campaign, select tactics
  • Hire web designer for micro-site
  • Solicit and secure sponsor(s) to provide iPads for winning students

September

  • Promotion of contest via Women in Eng. Website, Faculty of Engineering Facebook, Twitter,  McMaster YouTube, micro-site
  • Media release (social and traditional) to high schools and Ontario media organizations
  • Facebook, Twitter, Contest Micro site

October

  • Launch of campaign for McMaster Women in Eng. High School contest
  • Posting of Women in Mac Eng Entries to YouTube
  • Contest updatesFacebook, Twitter,  Facebook, micro-site
  • Contest deadline: October 31

November

December

  • Announce winners and contact them for prize delivery and invitation to Spring Reception
  • Launch promotion of the final winners’ videos

March

  • Reception where videos are screened and prospective students mix with current students
  • Prizes are awarded, speech by Dean congratulating winners
  • Social media release and traditional media release

WOMMA & the Mac Eng Video Challenge

The Women in Mac Eng Video Challenge follows the guidelines of The Word of Mouth Marketing Association (WOMMA) a non-profit organization dedicated to advancing and advocating the discipline of credible word of mouth marketing, both offline and online and the WOMMA code of ethics.

Trust:WOMMA members are committed to engaging in practices and policies that promote an environment of trust between the consumer and marketer.

Integrity:   WOMMA members pledge to comply with the requirements of applicable laws, regulations, and rules concerning the prevention of unfair, deceptive or misleading advertising and marketing practices. In particular, WOMMA members promote honesty and transparency in their practices and methods, such that all forms of consumer manipulation are rejected. Indeed, advertising is a creative enterprise that strives to convince the consumer that the advertiser’s product or service is necessary and valuable, but in the course of engaging with the consumers, WOMMA members are committed to avoiding consumer deception as an end result of their marketing practices. As a result, WOMMA members engage in practices that are designed to enable the reasonable consumer acting rationally to make better informed purchasing decisions.

Respect:   WOMMA members promote and abide by practices that focus on consumer welfare. WOMMA members believe that the industry is best served by recognizing that the consumer, not the marketer, is fundamentally in charge and control, and that it is the consumer that defines the terms of the consumer-marketer relationship.

Honesty:   WOMMA members believe that consumers should be free to form their own opinions and share them in their own words. Simply put, WOMMA members do not support any efforts that tell others what to say or how to say it.

Responsibility:   WOMMA members believe that working with minors in marketing programs requires sensitivity and care, given their particular vulnerability to manipulation and deception.

Privacy:   WOMMA members respect the privacy of consumers, and encourages practices that promote the most effective means to promote privacy, such as opt-in and permission standards.

In keeping with the policies and guidelines of the social media platforms Facebook and Twitter, the official online voting for the best video will be done at the Mac Eng Video Challenge micro site at www.eng.mcmaster.ca/future/womeninmaceng.  Regular comments and/or likes can be done via Facebook and Twitter and are not considered as part of the online contest voting.