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NCMPR 2016 Recap: Social Media and Visual Storytelling in Community College Marketing

NCMPR Recap: Social Media and Visual Storytelling in Community College Marketing. Photo by Kristin Twiford.

This week in St. Louis, Missouri, marketing and public relations professionals from community colleges across the country came together to swap tips, best practices and success stories. Through it all, one thing was clear: visual communication is vital in higher education.

And I’m not just talking about how everyone was constantly snapping photos and videos (including conference photographer Ben Munson and Glenn Carpenter, whose awesome photos you can find in the NCMPR Libris library)…

Snapping away! Photos by Ben Munson, courtesy of NCMPR.

Snapping away! Photos by Ben Munson, courtesy of NCMPR.

In the world of community colleges, visual content can have a meaningful, highly personal impact. A strong website with videos sharing the stories of students and graduates has the power to convince someone to go to college (even someone who might never have imagined getting a higher degree). A fun photo of an event shared in real time on social media has the potential to convince a student to get involved in the community. And a compelling annual report can inspire a donor to make all of this possible for someone who can’t afford tuition.

The 2016 National Conference hosted by the National Council for Marketing and Public Relations (NCMPR) was packed with great information for community college communicators, but brand storytellers from any industry can benefit from these takeaways. The focus on visual content in higher education mirrors a broader trend. Organizations of all industries and sizes are prioritizing visual storytelling. Here are highlights from #NCMPR16 that we can all use to inspire our visual communications.

The Buzz

Throughout the NCMPR conference, people were buzzing about social media, visual communications and storytelling. In this video, conference attendees and presenters share takeaways from NCMPR 2016.



Using Communication to Connect, Inform and Engage

Ron Watermon, Vice President of Communications for the St. Louis Cardinals, shared tips based on the MLB team’s communications strategy in his opening keynote. He highlighted examples of visual content the Cardinals are posting on social media, like this spot in the Instagram video series, #BirdToTheFuture. Check out our post, Brand Journalism, Entertainment and Engagement: How the St. Louis Cardinals Communicate with Fans for the full story.

#NestFlix #BirdToTheFuture Episode 60 Doc Brown

A video posted by St. Louis Cardinals (@cardinals) on

Award Winning Work Shines Spotlight on Visual Content

The work honored by NCMPR’s Paragon Awards underscored the importance of visual content in community college communications. The award winning submissions were packed with stunning photography, fresh design and creative storytelling.

Check out Anne Arundel County Community College’s first ever video annual report, which took home the top prize in the “Electronic College Annual Report” category.

Innovative visual storytelling can help your organization’s content stand out from the pack. Need some inspiration? Check out The 21 Best Video Examples of Visual Content Marketing and The Top Ten Visual Content Marketing Ideas to Steal in 2016.

A Friendly Photography Shootout: From Concept to Completion

Before the conference began, a group of attendees (a mix of photographers, videographers, marketers, designers and more) went to the City Museum in downtown St. Louis to see who could capture the best photo. They uploaded an incredible collection of images to the conference’s Libris account – check them out!

The top prize (a free PhotoShelter account) went to Aimee Sagaser, Graphic Designer for St. Charles Community College. Check out her fantastic photo:

Photo by Aimee Sagaser, winner of the NCMPR pre-conference shoot-out.

Photo by Aimee Sagaser, winner of the NCMPR pre-conference shootout.

What did we learn from the shootout? That community college communications professionals are producing amazing imagery! Congratulations to everyone who participated.

The Photo-Video-Social Trifecta

In one of the most popular sessions of the conference, a panel from Moraine Valley Community College shared how a team approach to social media has led to exponential growth on social platforms. The team focuses on three “C’s,” communication, content and coverage. They host monthly meetings with a group called, “The Socialites,” where representatives from across the university help the communications team stay informed about what’s going on on campus. And the kicker: they use cutting-edge technology to publish high quality content to social media in real time.

During events ranging from softball games to bake sales, Moraine Valley’s photographer Glenn Carpenter uses a wireless workflow to share photos with social media manager, Mike Loveday. Mike publishes Glenn’s photos on social in seconds, allowing them to keep up with the speed of social media. Meanwhile, the team’s videographer Matt Grotto shoots video on his phone and posts to Instagram. The team’s director, Clare Briner, has given her staff shared admin access to all of the school’s social media platforms. Content is not routed for approval – it is sent out immediately. As Glenn said, “it’s Instagram, not Inaweekagram.”

The team used the school’s 2015 commencement ceremony as an example of an event where they used the “photo-video-social trifecta” to share updates with immediacy on social media, while also documenting the day with a longterm perspective.

Glenn snapped photos with his Nikon D4, and sent them by FTP directly to his PhotoShelter account using a wireless hotspot in his pocket. Immediately, Mike accessed the photos and shared them on Twitter with text he had written before the ceremony started.

Simultaneously, the team’s intern, Steve Henry, posted photos and videos to Instagram, all the while capturing video footage on a GoPro strapped to his graduation robe.

Meanwhile, Matt was shooting video footage capturing every aspect of the day, which he later edited together with graduate interviews and Steve’s GoPro footage.

This team approach allowed Moraine Valley to create high quality photos and videos (a must for the school’s archive), and share the best content immediately while everyone was still talking about commencement. Streamlining the processes for how you capture, upload, access and share content can help your organization work faster and build a stronger longterm archive.

Empowering Your Organization with Photos & Videos

Photos and videos are playing an important role in every aspect of community college communications. In our session and in our roundtables, we shared stories of organizations that have used a strong visual media library to fuel everything from website redesigns to lightning fast public relations (and how your organization can harness the power of photos and videos, too!). Check out our case studies to learn more about how organizations revolutionize their communications with visual asset management.

Cover photo by Kristin Twiford.

Free Guide: How Do University Athletic Departments Manage Images?

Free Guide: How Do University Athletic Departments Manage Images?

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