A Higher Education June Dream
If you’re feeling a little end-of-year fatigue, you’re not alone.
If you're feeling like me, you may not currently be in the mood to read about ways to optimize your search marketing or best practices in crisis communications. Not that I couldn't use some tips on either topic, but I seem to be suffering from professional development fatigue. I’ve temporarily lost the will to learn.
But that's not all.
I also seem to have a terrible case of decision-day/commencement/alumni-reunion/end-of- fiscal-year fatigue. I don’t mean to complain, but whose idea was it to schedule all that together?
It's that time of year. Faculty submitted final grades and students moved home for the summer. But advancement and communications teams? We’re in the middle of a frenzy that doesn’t end until around the Fourth of July and only after nearly every one of our many and varied constituents has been summoned forth, extolled, wooed, wowed, soothed and sated in some way.
No wonder we’re tired!
And so it goes that here in June you find me low on creative juices, nearly completely depleted of tact, and enumerating various rare but annoying ailments.
I'm a planner. I usually find joy in thinking through big integrated campaigns with my colleagues. I often get pleasure in asking all those needling questions — Who is the audience for this piece? What do you hope to achieve by it? How will you measure its success?
But come to me right now with a one-off email or rambling print piece with no clear purpose, and you’ll barely get a rise out of me. (Related ailment: Meeting Fatigue).
I’m from the Midwest. I’m not usually one to mince words. Tell me what you want from me and I’ll do the same. I’ve come to believe that the question, “What do you want someone to do after seeing your content?” is an appropriate one for absolutely everything we do from social media posts to viewbooks to the annual report … whether the CTA is explicit or implied. It’s all interaction, cause and effect, action and reaction.
But for the moment, can we put a brief moratorium on engagement? Enough with the engagement. (Related ailment: Acronym Fatigue)
Must I really try to put myself in the place of my audience and think about their needs and motivations? What about my needs? Until further notice, I’m going to pretend that everyone comes from the same background, has had the same experiences, and wants the same things. You don’t care for copy written in the second person and assume your preference is universal? Makes sense. Sending the same appeal to the class of 1970 and the class of 2010? Proceed. (Related ailment: Empathy Fatigue)
Now everything has to have a video component. You have to show, not just tell. And not with words, but moving images. Prospective students and parents want multiple authentic glimpses of life at our campuses before making perhaps the greatest monetary investment of their lives. I was recruited to college by three interchangeable photos of a grassy quad and liked it. Cue up that cookie-cutter college montage set to an upbeat soundtrack, and let’s call it a day. (Related ailment: Kids-These-Days (!!) Fatigue)
So hey, I'm just going to sit on that folding chair over there and rest my eyes for a bit. I'm not so tired that I'm not grateful to work in a field in which I'm emotionally invested. I cry at graduation. I want to burst with excitement on move-in day. Renewal, fueled by sunny days and time off, is as certain as the coming of the fall. Just make sure to rouse me in time for the reception.
Donna Lehmann is the senior director of marketing and communications at Fordham University in New York City
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