The marketing of universities is a tricky business. Balancing the Academics and Athletics, representing yourself as a good neighbor to your home community while attracting the right students nationwide – it’s no easy task. And nowadays, it’s a lot more than having a prestigious logo and perky student tour guides. It’s obvious that any brand needs to worry about their online reputation, but colleges and universities have it especially tough, with almost all of their customers being computer savvy/dependent. Sites like CollegeProwler.com allow prospective students to find up-to-the minute grades and in-depth reviews of every facet of student life from parking to the party scene and how LBGT-friendly a school is.
This year, in an example of web communications brilliance, MIT created a campaign using their newly accepted students. Traditionally, MIT students receive their acceptance letter in a tube. This year, MIT admissions asked them to “Hack the Tubes,” all in honor of the 30th anniversary of the Great MIT Balloon Hack.
According to MIT “hacks” are:
…clever and elegant pranks showcasing the playful and inventive spirit of MIT. Hacks are performed by hackers, MIT students who safely and stealthily execute the pranks according to an informal code of ethics. These ethics, loosely stated, assert that hacks must do no damage to property or any person, must be safe, and must provide joy or amusement to those who experience the hack.
Relying on the ingenuity of the Class of 2016 and the long standing tradition of hacks, MIT hit a PR home run with 16-year-old Erin King, who sent her tube into the edge of space.
It will be interesting to see if any schools follow MIT’s lead in using social media to not only promote the university, but showcase the true personality of its student body. Well done.