We all have a story to tell. The impact of the work we do in collegiate recreation and wellness is profound, changing lives and instilling healthy behaviors, building community and supporting academic success.
I’m sure you may have heard these statements before. But has the rest of your campus heard the sound of your voice through the wellness megaphone?
Demonstrating this impact and value of what we do for campus is not as difficult as you may think. Sometimes you have to dig deep, you have to search for it; and sometimes it falls in your lap. The challenging part, however, is how to distribute your message.
CAVEAT: This is not a silver-bullet strategy. At NC State, we’ve modified, evolved and pivoted our strategic messaging strategy. The current result? We developed two complementary integrated marketing campaigns to demonstrate the value of our programs and services, and inform campus on the benefits of physical activity on academic success.
At NC State, we operate on the messaging metaphor of “the cupboard is never bare.” There is always a story to tell. From the life-changing experiences of a student finding a passion for improvement through group fitness classes, to the community impact of our club sports, the unique experiences of an outdoor trip or keeping up with our student-employee alumni, our messaging centers around a common theme: holistic well-being.
How do we find these leads? By using a two-dimensional approach. Think of it as “give-and-take.” A conduit for conversation.
The first dimension is through a user-generated content campaign. We are asking the audience to tell the story.
#PACKINACTION was developed as a means for our team to listen and collect experiences of our programs and services through the lens of the user. Their thoughts, feelings, perceptions. Housed primarily on social media, this campaign lets the Wolfpack community tell their own wellness journey and document their progression. For this, we used Instagram as the primary medium – to capture the visual interpretation of the well-being of our community.
Using our student-employees and professional staff as ambassadors, we’ve received an outpouring of content and experiences, specific to NC State. As of today, there are more than 2,500 unique posts featuring this hashtag.
Taking this campaign a step further, we’ve employed daily challenges, casting calls, produced branded items and even collaborated with our campus partners and university communications department to help saturate the message.
You might ask, “You have all this content, what do you do with it?” Short answer: use it and celebrate it.
We’ve secured permission to repost content on our own social media platforms, using the content for other marketing avenues, such as comprehensive publications, posters and even digital signage. But we’ve also used this as a method to produce profiles of authentic people finding the benefits of well-being. These profiles are used everywhere from our year-end impact reports to social media testimonials and articles.
With the continual use of the hashtag, we have an evergreen source of content, an archive of stories we can use to constantly demonstrate our value and impact.
The cupboard is never bare.
The second dimension solidifies our place on campus as an authority on health and well-being and our role in enhancing academic success through well-being.
MOVE30 was established as an educational PSA-style campaign that focuses on physical activity and its benefit on academic success. It’s anchored by the Center for Disease Control’s recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate activity per week. The main message is to do something active for at least 30-minutes a day for five days a week.
As a contrast to #PACKINACTION, this campaign contributes more to the conversation by sharing articles from credible sources in news media, providing ideas centered around programs and services offered through our department, and providing real examples of the benefits of physical activity on academic success at NC State by highlighting students who have benefitted from it.
As with any integrated marketing communication strategy, there’s more to the campaign than just a name. With MOVE30, we’ve taken the message “on the road” with outreach. From launching the campaign with a “keep the treadmill moving” event in the student union, to take-away schedule cards and even games to help drive the message outside of our walls, the continuous saturation of this message helps drive recall and creates an expert-like personality.
With both of these campaigns working in tandem, one key to their success has been the support and help from our professional staff. From help identifying stories and pitching profiles during strategy meetings, sharing key campaign messages during staff training, or even writing and contributing to articles, the ownership extends far beyond the scope of the marketing shop.
As you may think about how to leverage your story to demonstrate value and impact, consider building consensus with your team, identifying the appropriate channels and finding authenticity in how the campus community interacts with your programs and services.
There is a story out there waiting to be told.