Akron General Health System wants to be known for its listening skills and recently launched a marketing and consumer-engagement campaign titled, “My Health. My Life.”
“Because Akron General’s goal is to understand the health-care needs of each member of the community, the campaign was launched to communicate this,” says Gina Page, senior account manager/PR with Hitchcock Fleming & Associates (hfa).
Research conducted by Akron General and hfa showed that individuals in the community want a health-care system that listens closely to what they have to say and works collaboratively with them to share important information about their health. The campaign is helping start conversations to achieve the health-care system’s goal. “Our new campaign revolves around education, empathy, collaboration and meeting the wellness needs of everyone at any age,” says Thomas Stover, M.D., president and CEO of the Akron General Health System.
Akron General has thousands of employees and T-shirts were given to them to leverage the staff as brand advocates and to promote the new tagline. “It’s been a huge momentum builder as the positioning is something that every Akron General associate truly believes in,” says Page.
Marketing teams at Akron General and hfa designed the multi-tier campaign that included print, local and cable TV, social media, radio, online, outdoor, paid search and sponsorships. The initial TV spot debuted in April, but some elements of the campaign began in late March.
Be sure to contact your distributor partner to develop your own effective campaign that will lead to successful results.
If you’re at any number of public places in Pennsylvania during the school year, perhaps you’ll witness what Joe Lyons describes as “The Sea of Orange” – dozens or even hundreds of school children clad in orange shirts imprinted with a white bell. You might guess it’s a field trip, but it’s not the school you’d expect. The kids, after all, attend virtual school. “We’re very dedicated to the social development of our students. It’s part of our mission,” explains Lyons, executive director of communications for the Pennsylvania Virtual Charter School (PAVCS).
The sea of orange reveals just one major way the face of education is changing. Online K-12 learning is a $300 million market representing over 1 million students and growing, at an annual rate of about 30%. The PAVCS alone enrolls 3,800 and holds events across the state, including a “Discovery Days” event that functions both as a year-end celebration and the school’s open house/enrollment kick-off. During those events, the school hands out a variety of logoed merchandise, including imprinted apparel, journals and visors. In addition, the school advertises in print, radio, television and Internet media.
“Charter-school laws in Pennsylvania require that you install open enrollment,” says Lyons, “which means that you have to be open to everyone. The way they ensure that is that we are all required to do marketing.”
Virtual charter schools may represent the wave of the future, but it’s quickly becoming the reality of the present. Students across the country and world now enroll full-time or can supplement their normal classes by taking additional ones online.
For Mike Connor, president of school consultancy Connor Associates Strategic Services, online learning has arrived. “In terms of mastering educational content, it’s going to be more cheaply delivered and delivered toward the way a kid learns through online learning,” he says. “I think that’s going to change the whole ball game.”
Schools were always believed to be beyond the effect of recessions, and colleges flourished in the past decade, increasing enrollment of 18- to 24-year-olds in the U.S. by 4% from 2000 to 2008. But both public and private schools have begun to flinch. “Education used to be recession-proof, at least until the last economic downtown,” says Fritz McDonald, vice president of creative strategy for Stamats Inc., a leading higher-education marketing firm. “But in this particular recession, endowments took a huge hit, and obviously state budgets have taken a huge hit, and those two events are having a huge impact on the college and university world.”
One study by the American Association of Colleges and Universities (an association of private colleges) "predicts that by 2025, half of all the private colleges or universities in this country are going to have to close, merge or change their missions if they're going to survive,” says Mike Connor, president of Connor Associates Strategic Services, a school marketing and planning consultancy. “That's a pretty sobering fact because we're only 15 years out from that."
As a result, schools must visibly change the ways they market themselves. McDonald points out that colleges have become conservative with their marketing plans, yet they’re adopting social media at a faster rate than Fortune 500 companies. “They’ve been in the old recruiting model for a long time, and what they’re going through is a kind of sea change because of digital technology,” he says. “They’re confronting the fact that, for example, the Web is becoming the hub of their marketing and recruiting.”
Yet, it’s still proven that promotional products have a lower cost-per-impression than even prime-time television, with just 0.5 cents per impression as compared to TV’s 1.8 cents. When social media is paired with promotional products as a marketing strategy, several audiences can be conquered at once.
Connor sees value as becoming even more important for schools to justify, starting with what he terms “internal marketing” (word of mouth among a school’s current students and parents) and coinciding with regarding the entire school as a marketing organization. “They just can't claim it,” he says about schools’ demonstrating their value. “They can't just say, 'We're the best.' They got to be able to prove it."
The task for schools is going to be incredibly difficult as they grapple with what exactly constitutes a 21st-century curriculum. The standard brick-and-mortar school is no longer the only game in town. Home schooling is increasing by 15% per year. Charter schools now enroll over 1.5 million students in more than 5,000 schools. Independent study, online education, specialty schools and more all threaten the current order of education. “Education is going to be available anywhere, and from a variety of different sources,” proclaims Connor.