On the day of the 2015 CIPR Education Journalism Awards, Awards sponsor Loughborough university blogs about the demands of communication with the modern student.
By Emma Leech
The communication landscape in education is shifting – and it’s shifting fast. The steady-paced days of yesterday are gone; the quiet(er) summers that allowed thoughtful planning and lengthy preparation are a distant memory. In their place is a breathless whirlwind of multi-faceted communication, which requires our continuous attention.
We’re living in a noisy age, with information circulating faster, in more ways and from more people than ever before. Of all those universities want to engage, students are their number one audience, and students are well versed in this multi-channel world. They can pick and choose to their hearts content how, when and where they interact with universities. Having a multitude of ever-evolving communications channels has opened up an exciting array of possibilities for higher education providers, but get the combination wrong and you’re at risk of missing most of your audience. There’s no easy ‘one size fits all’ solution – the need for well-tailored, almost personalised communication has never been greater.
Students are also becoming increasingly efficient at deciding what they do and don’t want to engage with. Attention spans are decreasing – according to research released earlier this year by Microsoft, the average has fallen from 12 seconds back in 2000 to just eight seconds now. If students can’t establish within a matter of seconds exactly what you’re telling them, what’s in it for them and where they can find out more, then your ‘exciting’ communication will quickly and unapologetically be cast aside.
So the pressure is on to catch and, most importantly, hold students’ attention. Out have gone the wordy missives; now the content’s snappy, dynamic, visual and transient. Students expect bite-sized, easily-digestible, to-the-point information, and rapid responses from the university. They operate in a real-time, 24/7 world. Nine to five communication is well and truly a thing of past.
As we begin the recruitment of the next wave of students, one thing’s for sure – tomorrow’s undergraduates will be communicating with each other, and with us, in a range of new ways. What’s they’re using today could well have fallen firmly by the wayside this time next year. And they’ll expect universities to be totally up to speed.
So do we miss those less frenetic days of before? Not one bit. As the pace continues to quicken we might sigh and wistfully roll our eyes, but really we love it!
Emma Leech, Director of Marketing and Advancement, Loughborough University
Click here to read details of tonight’s awards.