Create widespread awareness on-campus about the April 2012 visit by the Higher Learning Commission (HLC) reaccreditation team. Engage students, faculty and staff involvement in learning more about the importance of accreditation and the university's goal to become a Top 50 public research institution by 2025.
Kansas State University is seeking continued reaccreditation from the Higher Learning Commission for an additional 10 years. In April 2012, a reaccreditation evaluation team will visit Manhattan. The visit will include interviews (scheduled and impromptu) with students and faculty. The campus community must be prepared to answer questions about K-State and should feel vested in the reaccreditation process.
The HLC campaign theme/tagline is: Discover. Educate. Create. Engage.
Overall messaging will tie into K-State 2025's aspirational goal of becoming a Top 50 public research institution by 2025.
Staff and faculty
- More attuned to traditional media
- More likely to understand the importance of accreditation
- Interactive message delivery will be key
- Relating the reason for and importance of accreditation will be critical
Campaign Goals and Action Plan
Phase 1 — Fall 2010-Fall 2011
Formulate the campaign's look and content. Communicate the importance of reaccreditation and the need for campus-wide participation in the process.
Staff and faculty
- Create website for the university's HLC process.
- Develop a PowerPoint and schedule presentations with key faculty/staff groups, including deans, department heads, Faculty Senate and Classified Senate. Holding one or two open forums is also suggested.
- Design a series of homepage features, to begin following the HLC retreat. Link to website and tied to the four themes. The features would be direct folks to the most current information or action items.
- Release a letter from the President/Provost about HLC accreditation and its importance.
- Coordinate with professors to make a brief announcement in class about the HLC, perhaps provide a small handout or giveaway.
HLC committee receives ample feedback for the reaccreditation process and self-study.
Phase 2 — Fall 2011-Spring 2012 (Launch in November 2011)
Educate the campus community about the university's mission, values, and core capabilities through an integrated marketing campaign. Heighten awareness about the importance of reaccreditation and the April 2012 visit.
Staff and faculty
- Make a K-State Today announcement immediately following HLC retreat in October. Link to website.
- Produce a companion personal video from the President/Provost to campus to go with each K-State Today announcement. A video should also be produced to promote the upcoming visit; to be linked from customized home page feature.
- Hang "Welcome" banners in early April. Top of the Union, Quad and Coffman Commons are possible locations.
- Create a series of two posters; could be a single reversible poster. The first poster will feature an anticipation-based message; the second a "have your say" message.
- Design a series of two direct mail postcards to all faculty/staff based on the poster concept. Second piece should be a "keeper" and should feature key milestones and primary messages.
- Design a napkin, coaster, bookmark, or some other small but useful takeaway item for students, featuring milestones or messages for the HLC.
- Create informative, action-oriented table tents and work with the Union, Dining Centers and Hale Library to display them. Develop a mini display option also for the Rec Center, residence halls and the bookstore.
- Pitch a story to The Collegian about why students should care and be involved. An editorial/ad may also be effective.
- Create a poster for all general use classrooms, residence halls and other high-traffic areas on campus.
- Periodic announcements in the upcoming email newsletter for students.
- Solicit periodic coverage from the K-State Collegian, 91.9 radio and Wildcat Watch.
Campus constituents are actively engaged in the campaign and are prepared to welcome the HLC reaccreditation committee. Measured by tracking participation in campaign activities.
Phase 3 — Spring 2012
Create excitement around campus that encourages participation in the HLC process and site visit.
Staff and faculty
- Organize a regular table in the Union over lunch with an interactive Q&A game show or a spin-the-wheel game. We could give away t-shirts, candy, or other HLC branded giveaways. This could be coupled with "don't miss out" announcements in K-State Today about the events. Pictures could be shared on Facebook and on HLC website. Ads are also possible.
- Develop an "Ask Me about the HLC" button or sticker for our ambassadors. They could also be distributed to folks as they learn about HLC and are able to repeat back the talking points. Incentivizing folks on campus to wear these buttons on the days of the visit is also possible.
- Organize and distribute free food like hot chocolate, popcorn, and other snacks, at key times in the semester (e.g. midterms, spring break, finals, etc.).
- Designate a student spokesperson to reach out to student media.
- Develop a marketing kit for student ambassadors at each of the colleges, and for SGA and other student groups. The kit could include buttons, fact cards, and a coupon for Call Hall ice cream.
- Design an email animation targeting students and directing them to a mini-competition. This could be a tongue-in-cheek quiz, crossword puzzle, HLC game show or a promotion titled Hoops for HLC involving texting. There would be a reward for taking part.
- Design and distribute t-shirts and promote rewards for people who "get caught" wearing them. Could post pictures on Facebook. Options include football/basketball tickets, food coupons, free coffee, etc. Will need to practice this promotion before the actual visit and award biggest prize during visit.
- Utilize sidewalk chalk to get the message out.
- Design a coffee insulator with HLC messaging/branding.
Five thousand students, staff and faculty wear their "Welcome HLC" t-shirts to campus on the day of the visit and are able to offer insightful answers to questions from the site visit team.