Who Said #HigherEd Marketers & Communicators Are Lazy?

June 28th, 2016 Karine Joly 10 Comments

10 years focusing on… your work

I’ve spent an unhealthy amount of time looking at your work for the past decade. Not just your work, but the work, projects, campaigns and initiatives of many higher ed marketers and communicators.

As the executive director of a professional online school for higher ed digital marketers and communicators, it’s my job to know what our alums, current and prospective students achieve.

So, I follow the discussions on social media, I read all the blogs and industry articles, I analyze the conference programs, I talk to as many of you as I can in email, on the phone and face-to-face at conferences.

Over the past decade inside and outside our online classrooms, I’ve witnessed, chronicled and often featured fantastic work done by dedicated talented professionals: website redesigns, digital marketing campaigns, social media initiatives, online videos, fundraising initiatives, etc.

Don’t leave me this way…

I’ve also seen great talent leave higher education.

While I’m always happy for the professional who gets a new opportunity to spread his or her wings, I feel sad at the same time, as I know how much hard-earned expertise our industry loses every time this happens.

It takes a special kind of people to succeed with digital communications or marketing in higher education: problem solvers, dedicated dreamers and often inventive negotiators.

Yet, many of these rare birds regularly leave higher education – often frustrated by all the things they couldn’t do, all the things they were not allowed to do, all the things they could have done if only…

Welcome to higher education!

applesSince the mission of our professional school, Higher Ed Experts, is to help upgrade the marketing skills and advance the career of higher ed communicators and marketers, we also get a chance to train more and more “new comers” as well.

When they hire higher ed “outsiders” to fill old or new positions, more and more institutions sign them up for our professional certificate programs.

The 4-week online programs are a great way to get up to speed with the different way things are done in higher education while learning critical skills with higher ed peers and instructors.

In smaller higher ed markets it makes more sense to train local outsiders than to try to woe a seasoned higher ed professional to move across state lines.

This happens all the time and this is to be expected.

Wanted: higher ed pro, experienced higher ed pros need NOT to apply

What’s new and surprising is the increasing number of institutions specifically looking outside of higher education when it’s time to hire.

Tough choices?

It’s happening at the highest level for university presidents or college VPs – some time with great success, some time with resounding failure. Higher education is a very “different” kind of workplace where you can’t “order” your way.

And, it’s happening more and more for marketing and communication positions according to a few conversations I’ve had lately.

Several consultants reported that more and more schools are looking specifically outside of the industry to fill digital positions…


Supposedly because higher ed marketers have the reputation to be… lazy.

When I heard this argument I was shocked.

I can name dozens after dozens of amazing talented professionals in our industry waiting to NOT be prevented from doing great work.

Should schools automatically disqualify applications from higher ed insiders?

Are there a few pros in our industry who have put their marketing mojo on auto-pilot? Definitely, it’s an occupational hazard when you work for a cycle-based industry like ours where ideas are freely shared among “competitors.”

Are they the majority? Definitely not.

Will higher ed outsiders always get things done better and faster than insiders? Probably not as it will take them time to understand how things work in higher ed — with some messiness and at a slower pace.

At Higher Ed Experts, we don’t know every single marketer working in higher education, but we’ve helped close to 800 of them with our professional certificate programs and have given a few of them a platform to share their wins at our annual conferences or in our Higher Ed Marketing Memos series.

Higher Ed Experts alums are many things: dedicated professionals, life-long learners, graduate or doctoral students working full-time jobs, mothers, fathers, volunteers, care takers, musicians, artists and other creative spirits.

What they aren’t – for sure – is lazy.

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