Several months ago, as part of an ongoing conversation regarding guest blogging, a client came to us with one of his clients. Together, we chatted about how they were working together when it dawned on everyone in the room that this wasn’t a guest blogging opportunity. This was a podcast opportunity.
A few weeks later, in a Center City Philadelphia audio studio, we recorded a series of four podcast episodes, from which we were able to create a collection of related blog posts, ebooks, and social media updates. We were hooked.
Podcasting’s Big Year
There are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about podcasting. While video is getting all the headlines, podcasting quietly had a huge 2016, and can be produced at a fraction of the cost of video. We’ve covered this elsewhere on the blog, but to review:
- Monthly podcast listenership has grown 75% since 2013
- 57 million Americans are listening to podcasts
- 1 in 4 Americans between ages 12-54 report listening to a podcast in the past month.
The more we thought about podcasting, the more we thought about the opportunity for podcasting within higher education. After all, in what other environment can you access thousands upon thousands of individuals, each with their own unique story to tell about how your organization has influenced their career and life?
Before we could stand on our soap box, however, we recognized that we needed to put our money where our mouth was. And so, with that in mind, we are proud to announce that we’ve launched the Hashtag Higher Ed podcast, a bi-weekly podcast covering all aspects of higher education marketing, from blogging to social media, email to video, and beyond, with professionals in the higher education space across admissions, marketing, career services, alumni relations, and more.
Episode 1: The Changing Landscape of Blogging in Higher Education with Emily Brennan
If you’re a frequent reader of this blog, you know that we’re bullish on the benefits that blogging can have within higher education. And thus, blogging felt like a natural topic to cover in our first episode. We were lucky that Emily Brennan, Senior Specialist, Digital Communications at the University of Pennsylvania Law School, was willing to take on the task of being our debut guest to talk about her Penn Law Life student blog. Emily joined Penn Law in 2012, and in her current role, oversees much of Penn Law’s digital efforts, including the Penn Law Life student blog and Penn Law’s social media channels. During our conversation, Emily and I talked about the changing landscape of blogging in higher education, the rise (and potential fall) of Medium, and publishing on rented land.
Takeaways from this Episode
On Sourcing Content for Higher Education Blogs:
“Your best asset in identifying the right students is to talk to your peers. Talk to someone who you know in admissions, talk to someone you know in career services, talk to someone you know in students affairs. They will be able to identify people who not only exemplify the type of things that you’re looking for, but they also know who’s really active in the community. They may be able to get that student to answer an email from a random communications officer. It really helps to have that extra connection to network with the students.”
On The Appeal of Medium
“It had a look and feel out of the box that we liked. It wasn’t off in its own ecosystem like a WordPress blog might be. So the appeal of maybe drawing a little different of an audience on Medium who are interested in reading more thoughtful, potentially longer text-based pieces, was intriguing.”
On the Changing Digital Landscape
“Really, what kind of changed, is when Instagram video or video on Facebook and Twitter really started to become a thing, we had all our analytics on YouTube. So there was that whole thing of do we put those videos on the other accounts and how do we account for that? Or is part of our new reality that we’re pulling this data from everywhere to reach people where they’re at? And I think that’s where we’re heading towards with some of our text-based content. I think, because this [Penn Law Life blog] is specific to students, it’s really important to be reaching them where they live online, and that’s on Facebook and Twitter. What’s the best way for me to have a really lengthy text post that I want people to read? It’s not necessarily going to be on our website.”
On the Risks of Building on Rented Land
“There is no easy answer. It’s the trade-off between being able to get that audience reach, being able to get those eyes and get that number of impressions that you’re looking for and level of engagement…We do get traffic on the Penn Law website, but I don’t know that they’re going to be navigating to my corner of the site where the Penn Law Life student blog lives. I know I can get the kind of reach we’re looking for or make an impression or have someone really connect with the content when we’re using these other services. I think it’s something we all have to grapple with. It’s the state of the web at large.”
We taped this podcast episode prior to the launch of the Penn Law Life’s spring season of publishing. A few days after recording this audio, Emily discovered that a scheduled post on the Penn Law Life student blog, kicking off their spring season, was loading as a normal article on Facebook, rather than as a Facebook Instant Article. After emailing Medium, she was told that Medium was, “currently in the process of developing simpler workflows to integrate Medium with both Instant Articles and Google AMP. We don’t currently have a time-frame, but will issue an announcement when they are ready for use. Please bear with us.”
For publishers looking for for alternative ways to take advantage of Medium’s pending Facebook Instant Articles functionality, she recommends this article by Buffer on how to get running with FB Instant Articles.
Emily Brennan’s Social Shout Outs
Inspired by Jay Baer’s “Social Shout Out” feature on his excellent Social Pros podcast, we are asking every guest on the Hashtag Higher Ed podcast to give a shout out to colleagues who you should know and follow in the higher education and/or marketing space.
Jon Gabriel, University of Central Florida Medical School (Twitter: @jongabriel)
“Jon and I coincidentally founded the #HESM hashtag on Twitter with Cara Rousseau, formerly of Duke. Jon runs a fantastic #HESM Slack channel that I would encourage all higher ed communications professionals to join. I have to admit I’m more of a lurker than commenter on Slack, but it’s a great place to have more substantive conversations compared to Twitter chats.”
Karen Lee, Stanford University Graduate School of Business (Twitter: @karenlee)
“Stanford Graduate School of Business is very thoughtful in their approach to content. I saw Karen Lee and her colleague Natalie White present at an Ivy+ Social Media event about the history of their Facebook page and I continue to enjoy nearly every industry article or insight Karen shares on Twitter.”
Jamie Lewis, University of Georgia Alumni Association (Twitter: @jlew8)
“They had some cool microsites and campaigns come out recently that I really liked, especially a recent microsite on their 2017 State of the University Address.
You can listen to this episode on Soundcloud, iTunes, Google Music, or wherever podcasts are found. To explore all episodes of the Hashtag Higher Ed podcast and sign up for alerts regarding new episodes, visit our Hashtag Higher Ed hub.