Promoted at American University

Hi again,

I realize I haven’t posted in the last seven months since I’ve started working at American University. It has been a very busy time. Just weeks after starting my new job, my supervisor left the university. There was a lot of new work that still needed to get done and ultimately fell to me. I adjusted quickly and embraced the new challenge.

As time wore on, my colleagues and supervisor adjusted to me being the face of the marketing department. By the time the HR-mandated probationary period had ended, it was clear I was serving and would continue to serve the school in a much greater capacity than when I started. On January 1st (just over six months after I started), I was officially promoted to Assistant Director, Communications & Marketing. While it officially came with a greater set of responsibilities than my original position, I was ready for it because I had been taking care of many of those responsibilities in the interim period.

In addition to managing day-to-day outreach efforts across the school (spanning undergraduate, graduate, and professional studies programs), I recruited, hired, and now supervise two part-time staff members who ensure our school website’s compliance with accessibility requirements and write news and feature stories to help attract new students. Among other projects, I researched and migrated the school to a new CRM for contacting partners. I also completed an effort to create a print material with a consistent graphic design across our varied programs (soon to be translated to the website).


There have been a number of other projects in the works that I’ll be able to discuss when they’re complete. Suffice it to say, it has been and will continue to be busy in my neck of the woods.

Until next time,

Geoffrey Campbell
Assistant Director, Communications & Marketing

eduWeb Digital Summit #eduweb15 Recap

[Side note: I would normally use Storify for a recap like this but I didn’t capture the tweets at the time so it’s now easier to embed them manually. I used Storify to recap my first digital/social media campaign (in 2011) and other events. I’ve also used it as a resume of sorts back when I was looking for a job after grad school. More recently, I’ve used it as a sort of storage locker of things I’ve done that have gotten me to this point. My hope it that (even without any comments), it shows the progression of my experience in higher ed marketing starting with blogging for Mount Allison seven years ago to some recent posts on Analytics.

Anyways, all of that is just to say: Storify is a great tool, it just isn’t right for this post. Also, given the embeds, I’m not using standard English grammatical conventions so…sorry if that bothers you.]

So conferences can be pretty overwhelming with the amount of information offered in them. I’ve been to/organized a dozen different workshops/conferences/summits/whatever you want to call them (at different times/for different reasons) and I think so far #eduweb15 has matched my specific needs and interests the most specifically (as a web communicator/marketer). An important note is that I haven’t yet been to many other conferences (among them #heweb, #casesmc, and #pseweb, about which I’ve heard great things).

For this conference, I had done a lot of research and had put together a lot of the presenters in a Twitter list (this being the first time nearly everyone I interacted with used Twitter regularly).

The days were pretty jam-packed, starting early and going late (including organized events, including one by Ruffalo Noel Levitz.

Some of the most interesting sessions reviewed the history of video production from mini DV

to modern day drones

and included the planning stages of video production

At one point, a keynote speaker, @sree, noted that I was the only K-12 (N-12, really) person at the conference. I attended because higher ed institutions are generally more advanced in terms of digital marketing and are generally more willing to share their more advanced tactics, which seemed like a great reason to attend.

Independent school and higher ed marketing have a number of important differences, however, there is a lot of knowledge/skill that is transferable between the two. As evidence, independent school communication leaders, including Peter Baron, found information from the conference’s Twitter stream to be true for independent schools as well.

Many of the outreach strategies could be optimized with creating a content strategy beforehand:

There were a number of sessions (thankfully), that focused on Google Analytics and I was able to share my experience and suggestion for beginners to start with Analytics Academy

Others at the conference helped tell the story of portions of the conference, including this Storify by Jason Smith of OHO Interactive.

Day two began (at least for me) with many opening up about not using remarketing in their digital efforts.

The conference was to many (including myself) in part, a call-to-action to take full advantage the full range of social media marketing tools and featured. The insights from hands-on use add tremendously to even the knowledge that Facebook itself shares with advertisers.

The keynote lunch by Higher Ed web professional Mark Greenfield was a commiseration about issues caused by the structure/nature of institutions of learning.

There was also some immediately practical advice on advertising, for instance, making the most of your AdWords dollars

In addition to hearing from seasoned experts who had spent decades in the field, the organizers included fresh ideas, including many from Morgan Day (of OU’s Web Communications team).

She shared her thoughts on traditional communications work which, judging from the room’s reaction, resonated with many in the field:

As the communication habits of the target audience of college change rapidly, higher ed has to adapt. Despite some controversy surrounding reddit, recent developments (including many high-profile IAmAs and leadership/policy changes), reddit is now useful for sharing knowledge/expertise.

As the conference wore on, the changing nature of website use was discussed. The current reality is that users are less apt to do what higher ed professionals want them to do by default, and therefore inbound marketing and lead nurturing is becoming more and more necessary. This fact was illustrated more succinctly with this cartoon

There were many implications that affect both higher ed and independent schools, including so called “ghost applicants” or in Carnegie Communications’ vernacular (which I prefer), “non-compliant prospects”.

Carnegie Communications also shared insights from some anonymized reports because it’s not really the data that’s most valuable, it’s the ability to collect and interpret the data effectively which makes analytics so important.

One of the more novel talks included the input of a presenter’s daughter (a rising senior who has already made her college choice)

Next up was a session from LunaMetrics, a Google Analytics Certified Partner. I was a pretty big fan of the company already.

The talk was right to the point about which dashboards can be immediately helpful and some reports that would be helpful to have sent on a regular basis.

I’ve used/made custom dashboards for quite a while so I shared some thoughts that might be helpful

[It should be noted that sharing dashboards shares the layout/’queries’, so to speak, but not any actual data.]

The conference ended on a high note from Lee McCabe, Global Head of Travel + Education Strategy at Facebook. I think one of the most useful points he made was the ability Facebook has to find lookalike audiences similar to a defined set of people

and how quickly you want people to see your content after they’ve left your site

(hence the importance of remarketing).

So it was a great conference in terms of the sessions but also in the type of people it attracts. I made a number of contacts, including a fellow web communications person who just to happens to work at a school in Greater Philadelphia.

Anyways, that’s my recap. As future organizer Chris Barrows points out, there were many tweeting at #eduweb15. Mine is just one of many perspectives.

Advanced Certification in Video Advertising

Screen shot 2015-07-18 at 1.24.42 PM

As I help my school stand out in this competitive environment, I often spend free time learning more and becoming proficient in using online tools to their highest potential value for us. Today I successfully passed the Google Video Advertising exam and have advanced certification in the topic. As video advertising becomes more popular, I’m glad it’s now a tool I feel comfortable using.

The advancement of digital and social media campaign development and analysis

You might not expect something with a title that dry to be thrilling for me to write, but it is.

[Note: This post may read as a bit of a “stream of consciousness” on the state of higher ed communications, so please forgive the tangents. Speaking of tangents, here’s a running list of things I’ve worked on since I began working in higher ed communications four years ago.]

Four years ago I was completing a project I had been working on all summer – brainstorming ideas, scripting questions, location scouting, casting, and interviewing compelling characters for a video series at Mount Allison University. I had just completed my first social media audit (sorry, it’s cover only because the full report has some proprietary information), and wanted to put my recommendations into actions. With some general oversight (and videography done by a co-worker), I went about helping to create a video series for incoming students in hopes of reducing summer melt by quelling their fears and answering some of their questions without them having to ask. We made a total of 20 videos and shared them over the month of August.

While it’s not easy to connect watching a video to a certain action (as Google’s various attribution models would attest even for simple transactions), we did set up a systematic approach to sharing the videos (via the website, social channels, and yes, even old-fashioned emails) and reporting on the effectiveness of the campaign with some basic metrics. Before long we attracted the attention of Academica Group, an equivalent Canada has to mStoner with their Top 10 emails going to thousands of leaders in higher ed research and marketing. [Here’s the reaction from #PSEweb leaders. It was pretty cool to see a project I worked so much on get a positive response.]

[Side note: It was four years ago at Mount Allison that I began working professionally in higher ed marketing and when I could first verbalize why knew I wanted to do it as a career.]

Expectations of digital marketing efforts of college-bound students, (as described in the industry-standard E-Expectations report) he internet has changed dramatically since 2011, video becoming a more and more useful source of information for prospective students. Colleges and universities, then, have (and have to) become more thoughtful in the way they measure the effectiveness of campaigns beyond number of views. I wrote about how one can infer quality, relevance and other important insights from a video’s metrics (with YouTube’s video analytics).

In addition to improved video metric reporting over time, social media campaign effectiveness has come into the spotlight. As prospective students turn to social media (with 60% of seniors seeing it as a reliable source of information), thoughtful engagement (and, of increasing importance, conversion) strategies and analysis have become more sophisticated.

To really stay ahead of the competition online, schools need to reach beyond their immediate circles and learn from the experts in the field, which often means going beyond your industry. I for one, have been doing my best to learn from that advice. I’ve read analytics, content marketing, and analytics books and blogs from beyond the silos independent school and higher ed marketers can find themselves in. It’s not a matter of becoming a coder or taking on another category of job duties, but taking the best advice from people who do digital analytics for a living. Beyond day-to-day reading to inform how I keep organized and efficient, I’ve also made a commitment to never stop learning.

Since starting at FCS and helping to launch our new website, I’ve taking advanced Google Analytics training from LunaMetrics, learned what the top CASE colleges and universities in the region are doing through a CASE D2 Scholarship, reviewed and became re-certified in AdWords ahead of the Fall admission ‘season’, and am currently reviewing HTML and re-learning CSS to make sure our landing pages are the best they can be.

Competition for students among private schools is not forecasted to lessen any time soon. As higher ed has had to adapt to changing realities, the responsibility of having a effective web presence has moved from being an IT webmaster’s problem to more of a communication issue. Do any search of what used to be one job in communications, say, “writer”, and you’ll see the role has become a “Web Writer and Content Strategist” who, in addition to “developing and implementing institutional social media strategy”, now is required to have an understanding of different content management systems, HTML, and Google Analytics.

Indeed, at some institutions, the responsibility for the website has been entirely subsumed by admissions and is placed into the hands of a Manager of Online Recruitment and Web Communication. This is no doubt a writing role, however, the requirement of having “strong copywriting and editing skills” coming 9th to others, including working with a CMS, experience in online marketing, PPC advertising, and HTML.

All of the above and more is why I’m proud to work at an institution that is aware of the changing nature of web development/communications/enrollment marketing and invests in a position like mine to ensure that the school’s mission is heard above the digital noise. While the ‘disruption’ seen in higher education is not going to be experienced the same way in independent schools, I’m glad to be learning how to stay ahead of whichever curve we’re on by learning from higher ed marketing experts at EduWeb Digital Summit in Chicago in a couple weeks (thanks to the school and a conference registration fee waiver provided by the conference organizers).

I’m excited to learn more about how best to keep telling our institutions’ stories in ways that reach and engage our target audiences where they are. I think sessions like “”How to Use YouTube and Hangouts on Air for Creating Differentiated Video Content” will help us get the most out of and improve upon what we’ve already done with Hangouts on Air (like our live-streamed Hour of Code Assembly).

What are you doing this summer to do things better this fall?

Friends’ Council on Education Workshop

In November, I took part in a major section of the new employee orientation at Friends’ Central – a trip to Pendle Hill, a 2-day Quaker retreat and conference center just west of Philadelphia in Wallingford, PA.

The workshop, Friends Council on Education‘s “Educators New to Quakerism” was an overnight trip with a number from faculty at Friends’ Central, William Penn Charter, Princeton Friends, Abington Friends, and others from around greater Philadelphia.

It was a great introduction of how a Quaker principles can be put into practice. (For an excellent primer, see Sidwell Friends School’s explanation.) An important facet of Quaker education is that it is a place in which “teachers acknowledge their own continuing growth, and discovery can be collaborative“, which leads to more seminar style/discussion-based classes you’d find in college classrooms.

In educator-friendly language this means that “Quaker practice is not an authority-centered, instruction-based transmission of doctrine but rather a dialogic encounter, a mutual grappling with questions, a subtle blend of self-directed and peer-assisted cooperative learning.”

The fact that Friends’ Central not only allows for but insists that new faculty and staff attend the retreat speaks to how much the school values this teaching and learning style. As one of the few non-teachers there (there was a dean, a development associate and an admissions representative from peer schools) it was one of the first insights I had into what happens in the classroom, and how it differs from well-performing local public schools and other private, progressive educational models.

In addition to insights on what makes Quaker education distinct, the discussions led me to thinking of how to market Friends’ Central and why parents would choose to send their child to Friends’ Central rather than our competitors (including a number of other Quaker schools in greater Philadelphia). At FCS (and at many non-Quaker schools), natural competition between students is often re-framed to competition against oneself (think racing against your personal best as opposed to other runners). In my mind then, an important focus is not only on ranking (on which FCS has done quite well), but more so on how our strengths match can match your child’s passion.

It got me thinking of my decision go to Mount Allison University, the feeling of connected, student involvement in student groups, and connection to professors. While the feeling of ‘yes, this is the right place for me’ felt personal there are only so many factors students take into account when choosing a school. Parents deciding on where to send their students focus on a few factors, with a special focus on the school’s programs, the environment/facilities of the school, academic performance, and teacher quality.

School communications office doesn’t have control over these aspects of the school, rather, they focus on highlighting what makes the school competitive. As then NAIS President Patrick F. Bassett noted, schools compete on price, brand, or uniqueness.

Friends’ Central is highly competitive in all three areas. Our tuition is the lowest amongst our competitor institutions, we have a strong nationwide reputation and many highly successful/influential parents and alumni in the Philadelphia area, and have a number of signature programs that set us apart from other area schools.

My job is make sure as many as possible of potential parents (and, to a growing extent, future students themselves) not only find us easily in search results and add us to “The List“, but that they are met with engaging content that encourages them to inquire/create an admissions account. It’s no secret many good options for private Quaker education in greater Philadelphia but focusing the ‘yes, and’ of the school is the next step of private school marketing. Yes, our school is among the best in the region, yes, students from here will be well prepared for college, yes Friends’ Central provides a foundation for future success AND … well, the “and” is in the details. It’s the job of the communications office to tell (and help others tell) the story of the school.

Over the year, I’ll be sharing some of the emblematic moments and compelling content that illustrates what makes FCS a special place to be.

Google Analytics Presentation at Blackbaud K-12 (then WhippleHill) Conference

Geoff Campbell Google Analytics Presentation

On Thursday (July 10th), I presented (alongside web consultants from Blackbaud (then WhippleHill)) on how private schools can immediately take advantage of the most immediately useful insights on Google Analytics. Below is a snapshot of the conference program and slides from my presentation. The video and slide deck are below.


View this post on Instagram

So I'm officially a conference presenter. #whuc14

A post shared by Geoff Campbell (@geoffbcampbell) on

After the presentation I had some great in person and online feedback. It was a great experience for me and I’m glad that people at other schools found it helpful. I need to include a shout-out to my Public Speaking professor Dennis Kinsey of the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications for helping prepare me for professional speaking roles. I don’t think my talk would have gone as well without his help.

For now, I’m back to finishing up some design work and planning video and social projects that hopefully I’ll have a chance to present about in the future!

Geoff Campbell Prezi

Geoff Campbell Skills and Experience
Geoff Campbell Skills and Experience

Geoff Campbell Skills and Experience

I recently created a Prezi about my skills and experience related to higher education communication and public relations. Take a look here.

Quick Update

Hi everybody,

So I’ve been very busy finishing up work to complete my M.S. in Public Relations here at Newhouse, taking a Visual and Multimedia Journalism class, interning in the marketing and communication office here at Syracuse University, and seeking a full-time job starting in June. Given that, posting here has unfortunately gone by the wayside at times.

Today though, I had time to tone and upload some photos from a trip to San Francisco. I also uploaded a Syracuse University “Sense of Place” video to YouTube, and had my post on WCG rock star Chuck Hemann’s talk about social analytics published on Syracuse University’s social media blog which (for which I’m seeking submissions from all SU students).

I should have a few more posts up before too long.

I’ll be writing about my best practices paper on higher ed use of social media (which will be written after I attend Michael Stoner’s talk on exactly that at PRSA’s Counselors to Higher Education Senior Summit next week), the forthcoming Tobacco-Free campus initiative campaign book my PR campaigns class group is working on with our client the Lerner Center, and hopefully at least a couple digital literacy/job hunt videos I’m working on at SU. (I know AP style but I’m going to use it whenever I’m not forced to abandon it).

For now here’s my Syracuse University sense of place video

and my apology for not posting often by way of a picture of an adorable dog I found in Berkeley, CA who was nice enough to pose for me:

San Francisco Tourist Photo

Higher Ed / College Campus Photos

College Campus Photos

Over the past couple months, as part of my Multimedia and Visual Journalism course at Newhouse I’ve taken hundreds of photos. Here are a few from around campus.

Syracuse University in WinterSyracuse University in WinterSyracuse University in WinterSyracuse University in WinterSyracuse University S.I. Newhouse School Public RelationsSyracuse University S.I. Newhouse School Public Relations
Syracuse University PhotographySyracuse University PhotographySyracuse University PhotographySyracuse University PhotographyMike Swartz presenting at the Newhouse Tablet Magazine CompetitionTablet Magazine Design Competition
Tablet Magazine Design CompetitionTablet Magazine Design CompetitionTablet Magazine Design CompetitionTablet Magazine Design CompetitionSyracuse University PhotographyTablet Magazine Design Competition


PRSA CHE (Higher Ed PR) Senior Summit


Every year, the Counselors to Higher Education (CHE) section of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) holds a Senior Summit where practitioners can learn hear from experienced executives on best practices and learn from one another what they can do to improve the communication activities at their higher education institutions.

Thanks in large part to subsidies from the Newhouse School (specifically Associate Dean for Professional Graduate Studies Joel Kaplan), The William P. Ehling Chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), and Syracuse University’s Graduate Student Organization, I will be attending the 2013 Summit in April.

The Summit bills itself as the “premier annual event on higher education communications” and this year they clearly set out to live up to that expectation.

This year’s Summit features the following:

  • A keynote luncheon by Michael Stoner entitled “Social Works: How #HigherEd Uses #SocialMedia to Raise Money, Build Awareness, Recruit Students and Get Results“.
  • A session discussing the first ever research on CHE members of duties and how practitioners “can  gain a seat at the table in order to practice truly strategic public relations” led by Rosalynne D. Whitaker-Heck from Hampton University and Jeanette DeDiemar from Florida State University
  • a panel discussion about hosting the 2012 Presidential Debates at University of Denver Daniels College of Business and Lynn University
  • A panel discussion led by John Morgan, associate vice president for public relations at Quinnipiac University entitled “The Next Time: Lessons Learned from Hurricane Sandy”
  • A National Media Panel on Higher Education, featuring
    Mary Beth Marklein, higher education correspondent, USA Today
    Liz McMillen, editor, The Chronicle of Higher Education
    Tim Goral, editor in chief, University Business
    Scott Jaschik, editor, Inside Higher Ed
  • A keynote luncheon by Jason Simon, director of marketing communications at the University of California entitled: “Marketing Blunder? Hardly. How Being “Boldly Californian” Brought Down a Logo and Left A Stronger University of California”

and many more discussions and opportunities for networking.

While I’m the only attendee currently registered who is not already working full-time I plan to get everything I can out of this investment of time and money. I’ll be taking extensive notes on what I assume will be insightful lectures and discussions in addition to the opportunity to hear from dozens of industry professionals. I’m very excited for this opportunity to learn firsthand insights from masters in the field I hope to enter in June.

There is a private list of attendees only for those attending but there is also a page on Lanyrd for the event.