How do you disseminate information and communicate to students in a meaningful avenue to create engagement?
The newsletter has been so effective, students, faculty and staff across Temple’s 40,000-student urban campus are coming to Samantha’s team asking if they can utilize it. Samantha offered up her strategy on creating a vehicle for student engagement that reaches from their first year to beyond graduation.
Fixing the Communication Gap
Samantha’s team noticed a communication gap. There was a hole between where enrollment team communication left off with students, and where alumni services picked up communication with current students. Her team filled the gap.
Prior to 2015, Temple already had a newsletter for faculty, staff, and students. These various audiences don’t want to hear the same things, however, Samantha wanted the entire university engaged.
So her team developed Nutshell, a newsletter specifically geared toward students. The results were powerful. The method to achieve, started with her team’s goal of maintaining active student engagement with not just the newsletter, but the entire university. “Our goal with Nutshell is to maintain students’ interest in campus life and be engaged in the university throughout the academic year.”
Her plan worked. Nutshell is so successful, faculty, students and staff are continually asking her team how they can use Nutshell to communicate directly with their peers.
Temple University’s Newsletter Content Strategy
Samantha knows that engaged current students equal engaged alumni later. So to engage current students, her team strategically maps out the entire year. They pinpoint specific events or programs of student interest, like homecoming or graduation.
Her team then considers how to creatively support those messages. A successful example of this support is a story her team sent out about class registration. Her team pulled together a list of the coolest classes at Temple. Students loved it.
“It was one of the most engaged with stories all year because it gave students the information they need at the time they needed it.”
Content Governance for a Current Student Newsletter
With Nutshell’s high success, students, faculty and staff all want to promote their stories and content through Nutshell. Everyone wants in. With 40,000 students, and faculty and staff in dozens of areas, deciding what content to push is key.
When choosing what content to develop or promote, her team constantly determines whether or not the information presented will benefit the student population.
“When we’re thinking about what content we can and can’t include, it all whirls back to those goals. We need to make sure that the information we’re putting in Nutshell will enhance the student experience.”
Samantha said her team also considers the entire student population. Her team is upfront about this goal.
“For example if a student wants to promote something that could only really apply to an extremely small population of students, then it might not work in Nutshell, and we just communicate that. We try to be as transparent as possible about what we can and can’t include. Everyone has been respectful of that. I think it’s clear, Nutshell’s purpose, and people understand what would work and what wouldn’t work.”
Newsletter Results in a Nutshell
Nutshell’s goal was to reach the student population in a venue they’ll actively engage with. Samantha wanted as much of the information as possible in one email to encourage open-rate. The results?
Forty percent of Nutshell emails are opened, passing the industry standard by a large margin.
Not only that, but each year, more and more students are increasingly clicking content in the email to absorb even more content.
On our show, we often ask our guests if they have any last words. Samantha’s advice? Start with research. “That doesn’t mean you have to go hire a consultant agency, but dig around to see what other schools are doing — like Nutshell. I think a lot of schools are adopting a newsletter specifically for students. See what voice they use. Check out the content that they create. Try to connect with those people.”
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