Taking Over a Marcomms Division Mid-Pandemic at Miami University of Ohio

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Jaime Hunt, Vice President and Chief Marketing and Communications Officer at Miami University of Ohio joined the podcast to discuss both the challenges, opportunities, and positive constraints of taking over a Marcomms division mid-pandemic.

When I think about a centralized model, I think about creating centers of excellence where there's people with a lot of expertise available to help generalists. I think in a lot of decentralized models you have people who are a mile wide in the inch deep. You're listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education, the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking to grow enrollment at their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university, a proud member of the connect ETU podcast network. I'm Eric Olson with Helix Education and we're here today with Jamie Hunt, vice president and chief marketing and communications officer at Miami University of Ohio. Jamie, welcome to the show. Thank you. I'm happy to be here, really excited to talk with you today about the challenges and opportunities of taking over a Markom division mid pandemic. But before we dig into that, can you give the listeners a little bit of background on both Miami University of Ohio and your new role there? Yeah, absolutely, so Miami University is, as the name suggests, in Ohio, although the name also suggests in Florida. It is not. I started here in September, so truly mid pandemic. We were, you know, six months in and now it's six months past then. Miami serves about twenty twozero students across four campuses and we have a Luxembourg campus as well, and we're really focused on providing a strong undergraduate education. But we have some exceptional graduate programs as well and we're having a growing footprint of online master's degree programs that are coming on board in the next couple of years. So that's really exciting. My Role I oversee university marketing communications office. We have a decentralized communications model here, but we're working...

...on developing a plan for better coordination of communications across the university because it's down the scale of centralized to decentralize. It is very, very, very, very very decentralized. Here was the fifth therey. Maybe think you might not love that too much. No, I'm and I was told in the interview process that that would be a challenge I would be tackling. So I'm excited about that. Jamie to kick us off maybe from the optimistic side. Is there any upside to taking over that role? That hyper, hyperdecentralized marking division, a already hard challenge during normal times, in the middle of a pandemic? Yeah, it's funny because nobody ever asks me that. Everybody asks me what the challenge is a hard how hard has it been? So I like that we've reframed this as a positive question. The way I look at it. You know, higher at is experiencing this crisis that most of us have never seen at the scale and hopefully we'll never see again, between the pandemic and the economic fallout of Alve, the lockdowns and restrictions, and then we've also had this growing reckoning around racial injustice that has been really amplified over the last year, and kind of coming into all of that in the middle of the storm meant actually that I was joining a team that has had to be incredibly nimble, which is so unusual in higher education, and they had to be really innovative and think outside the box and turn on a dime and get used to pivoting and so taking the lead when the team's already in that mindset has really been beneficial. It's also giving us the opportunity. They were sort of mid rebrand before the pandemic hit, and what this is allowing me to do is give us an opportunity to reframe a little bit and then come out of the pandemic really strong with the strong brand message that's informed by some of the challenges that we've had to face in the past. What are we at now? Eleven months, four hundred years? Something like yes, yeah,...

...yeah, that's all makes so much sense. Has the pandemic also potentially give in you an opportunity, or even an excuse, to shut down some of the perhaps good but lower value comms activities that the institution used to engage in prior to you in order to now focus on only the truly critical? Yeah, well, I think the big thing we've shifted away from is doing things that support in person tactics, and there was a lot of stuff travel pieces, materials for college fairs, but also the display designs for those exhibits and all of that. That's all really time consuming and super valuable, I think, under normal times, but obviously of no value now. We actually invested more this year in print to try to rise above the noise in the digital space. Yeah, I would say if anything, we're adding more to our toolbox. But, that said, this sort of rethink everything space is a great place to be. I think in higher ed we are distinctly structured to maintain the status quo and there's this academic year and there's a track that rhinds around it. In our tires just slip into those ruts and we do things the way they've always been done. We dust off what we did last year and, you know, make a few tweaks and spit it out again this year. And this gives us an opportunity to say what needs to change, because right now everything does, and I'm hoping that some of these things stick, that we are able to even if we go back to producing travel pieces and and exhibits and stuff, we're able to think about it differently and more creatively, instead of going back to the two thousand and nineteen travel piece and dusting that off and just doing that over again. Yeah, in terms of thinking more creatively, let's talk about creativity in this kind of creative team that you're over. All of our teams have had to get used to a lot of new virtual collaboration tools this year. You, to me surprisingly, have...

...found those constraints and technologies to actually be a creative boon for your team. How so absolutely for me, they're not just unlocking our ability to work together, but they're also unlocking creativity. When we're faced with a challenge that would have been handled by walking into someone's office, we're now having some mcguy for a solution that takes into account colleagues that might be in a totally different state. What excites me about that is that there's a lot of possibility to take that muscle memory of collaboration and that muscle memory of creative thinking and apply that to our marketing efforts going forward. We've had to rethink everything that we do and how we do it. My team previously was working with a lot of print pieces in terms of taking a proof and physically handling a physical proof to a person and marching that back, and now that's entirely digital and that saves up so much time and energy and effort and and is just a much more effective way of doing things. But beyond that, just the having to come up with a new way of doing things. That gets the wheel spinning in your head and I think that's going to help us identify new communications channels and crate materials that answer the new questions that we have in this post covid world. And I think about what else can we white board into reality with these this new muscle memory and these new skills that we've developed, and if we look at all these marketing challenges that we have with fresh eyes and with a fresh perspective, what can we create that takes us to the next level? And so I think that that's what excites me about everything that we've learned. I'm one of those people that hates we've always done it this way. I despise that and and we can't do I mean, we're not doing anything that we've always done anyway now, and that's I'm excited that the people are learning that. That's not so bad. Jamie, you're six months into this new role. How are you, or are you balancing both short term and long term prioritization? Maybe specifically for my branding and paid marketing strategy? Right now,...

I'm guessing the pandemic is likely forced you and all of us to focus very strongly on the immediate but is future Jamie going to be mad at current Jamie, that you're not doing more five year planning right now. I've love I talk all the time about not screwing over future, Jamie, and I thought, I think I am in that that space now. I am really looking to the future still, and part of that is empowering the people who work for me to be focused on the immediate, pulling people in that don't necessarily have as much immediate things they need to focus on, and having those people join me and thinking about the future. Our trademark and licensing office has had a huge dip in workload because nobody was buying things for for much of the year, and so we've been able to kind of draw her into a rebranding effort, into thinking about rolling out our new branding. The time that we're saving on creating some of the print pieces, were able to redirect our designers to focus on designing for our updated visual identity, and so I think it's you have to direct resources towards them mediate, but where can you find resources that you can direct to the future? And I am not going to get caught flat footed. When I was at Winston Salem state before this, I told the chancellor before we left on covid are one of our last days. I said we can't forget the future. We have to think about where we're going to be when we come out of this and I want us to put a stake in the ground that when we come out of this we're going to be in a better place from a band position, and I carried that over to Miami because I just think that's one way you can differentiate yourself in this market places if you don't just sit and think about the urgent things that are in front of you, but instead think about, you know, what the future is going to look like and where you're going to be done. I think people who think like that are going to be ahead of the game when we're finally done with all of this. You mentioned walking into this very, very decentralized communication state. How do you think about that from a short...

...term and long term priorization standpoint? I know it can be compelling to say brand police, now we're all centralized, but then you have to do all of that as well. So there's a huge load in order to create that centralization. What is your process, or are you assuming or or you know, strategizing that process to be and and what is your idealized end game of what is centralized what is not. Yeah, so my plan right now, my I have a road map for court better coordination of Communications and I'm meeting right now with all of the division heads and talking to them about what gaps they see between what we have and what is ideal. It's been interesting to talk to people about what their idealized situation would look like and I've been given a little bit of a blank slate to sort of draw up what I think we need and where I think we need to go. And so when I think about a centralized model, I think about creating centers of excellence where there's people with a lot of expertise available to help generalists. I think in a lot of decentralized models you have people who are a mile wide and the inch deep because it's a small shop and they have to be able to write a press release in the morning and do a social mediographic in the afternoon and do all of these different things and they not able to spend the time to become an expert in any one thing. So when I think about a more centralized or more coordinated option for our campus, I think more about providing these centers of excellence where people can tap into experts in those areas and harness their skill sets and knowledge to improve their efforts in those areas. But we'll see. I think our plan is to try to have something sort of sketched out on the back of a Napkin and get something into actually concrete terms by the end of this fiscal year. I love that idea beautiful way to look at it. Jamie, what are you doing now that you hope continues post pandemic,...

...either new ways that you are communicating and engaging with your audiences or new ways and practices that you're engaging with your internal team? That's a really good question. When I think about what we're doing now that I'd like to continue. My Day is full of meetings. I am in meetings generally seven to eight hours a day and if I were crossing campus for all of those meetings, it would not be possible to cramp all those into my schedule, and so I hope that we still do zoom meetings for the quick phone calls and the quick check ins and things like that, and have the in person meetings be things that are real opportunities to connect and have dialog and maybe you go out for coffee and engage on a more social level. But I'd like us to retain some of that efficiency that we have with the zoom meetings that we're having and I think that I also hope that we lose that out of sight, out of mind. I think in higher education it's easy to not involve people in things if their office is way over on the other side of the campus and you're not thinking about it right and during covid that's just out of sight, out of mine. Is just not possible. Unless your dog happens to have an excellent head for marketing and her pulse on the motivations of Jenc you are forced to reach out to people who aren't in proximity to you and I hope that that experience is something that we carry into a post pandemic world. By the way, my dog calls that barketing. She's looking to, you know, hire an intern or something to help her out with her efforts. She's got something there. I'm making a lot of money on games top this week, so I'll be I'll be her first piecing. That sounds good. Jamie, I remember when I saw you would take in the new role. I instantly thought while what an amazing higher for Miami University, and then, about two seconds later, I thought, but now she's taking this now. Any next episode? Vice for those who have an opportunity, are considering a move right now but thinking now it's just too scary. Yeah, well,...

I think back to when my husband went back to finish his batchelor's degree. He said, I'll be thirty five when I'm done. Why would I do this? And I told him he's going to be thirty five either way. He might as well be thirty five with a bachelor's degree. Yeah, so I see a move like this is kind of in the same light. If the opportunity is something that you would have seized before the pandemic, go ahead and sees it. Now there's everybody is sort of putting their lives on hold and, and I'm not saying just ignore safety protocols at all. I'm I'm a mask where I'm a stay at home person, but there's ways to relocate, ways to start new jobs that don't require you to be unsafe. And why let an opportunity pass you by if it's perfect and exactly what you're looking for and based on the number of applications that I have for my vacant positions. People are still trying to seize opportunities. Right now, I think we had two hundred for one of my positions. Yeah, big shoes to fill. Good luck future Jamie's. Jamie, thank you so much for your time today. What's the best place for listeners to connect with you they have any follow up questions? Absolutely so. I am on twitter at Jamie and I am see and when you look for me, remember that I'm named after the bionic woman, so it's Jai am e and not the more common spelling of Jamie. I'm also on Linkedin. Happy to connect there. I will say that I spend a lot more time on twitter than on Linkedin, though. She's very friendly, helpful and formative on twitter, so go give her a follow friends. Thank you. Thanks so much for joining us today, Jamie. I'm so happy to be here. Thank you so much for inviting me. Attracting today's new post traditional learners means adopting new enrollment strategies. Helix educations, data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new education landscape and Helix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can...

...solve today's most pressing enrollment growth challenges. Downloaded today for free at Helix Educationcom. Slash playbook. You've been listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education. To ensure that you never miss an episode, subscribe to the show in Itunes or your favorite podcast player. Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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