Thursday, 17 September 2015

Everybody's got a story to tell

The generation now applying to and attending university are a generation of digital natives. They are generation Z and they are increasingly mindful consumers that require an open and transparent approach to our marketing. The world of social media is second nature to them and it will often be their first port of call when they want to share something with their peers.

It’s around 12 months ago now that I wrote about #MyChesterStory referencing the importance and value of referrals. It’s an idea that has helped us to narrate what it means to be a student at Chester, encouraging our students to share their stories with us. And on the eve of a new intake of students, it’s a concept we want them to engage with more than ever. We want our students to be proud of their University and shout out about it every step of the way, from enrolment all the way to graduation and beyond! Most of all, we want them to do this online in their social networks, where they and many of their peers often frequent.

What’s your Chester story?

However, we don’t want #MyChesterStory to just be another marketing campaign. Of course, at its core is the objective of encouraging students to share their experiences in order to give prospects an authentic view of life at Chester, but it could be something much more than this. Rather than being just another social media hashtag, it could something that is engrained into our culture.

The story of Chester being formed in 1839 as the country’s first purpose built teacher training college is one we all know well and one that forms part of our identity. However, as the University continues to grow and evolve, our contributions to the University community all help to characterise the present-day Chester story. So, what’s your Chester story? And how does your story define what Chester means to you?

Setting the scene

The University of Chester means many different things to many different people. Whatever your connection is to Chester, the way you connect with the University helps to tell the story of what the University is all about.

Universities are incredibly creative and innovative learning environments where ideas, theories and concepts are shared, discussed and debated on a daily basis. They are also the backdrop of some of the most informative years of a person’s life; a place where students learn as much about themselves as they do about their subject. They can be the catalyst of huge life changing events, providing a range of experiences and skills that can help set up a student for life.

At the same time, universities can pave the way in pioneering research, contribute to improving the local economy and make a big difference to the aspirations and outlook of the region. Although students are obviously the lifeblood of any university, there is so much more beneath the surface that contributes to a university’s identity. And it’s all these stories combined that help to define what Chester really means.

The story so far

Over the last 12 months, our students have been busy tagging their tweets and their Instagram pictures and we’ve used this student generated content to help give our applicants an authentic and trustworthy overview of the student experience at Chester.

We’ve also commissioned a number of videos that take a closer look at what Chester means to a handful of our students, focusing in particular on what it is like to live and study at Chester. In these videos, Shannan tells us about her experience of coming to Chester from London, Adeeb explains how going to university and living in self-catered accommodation has helped him to become more independent, and April shares with us what it’s like to live in private sector accommodation and study Popular Music Performance at Chester. They’re three very different stories that, despite being unique to the individual, give the viewer a real insight into what it’s like to live in Chester.

One of our more recent promo films was released on A-Level Results Day and used a selection of our students’ Instragram pictures from the last 12 months to give our confirmed applicants (i.e. our Unconditional Firm applicants) a taste of what’s to come. The aim of this video was to create something that was the perfect accompaniment to the excitement and raw emotion of receiving your results and realising you’ve done it… you’re in!

By focusing on the story of the last 12 months at Chester, this video has not only served as a teaser for what our applicants can expect; it has also given our current students a visual reminder of their own Chester experience. As a result, the reach and durability of this video stretches much further than just A-Level Results Day, acting as a prompt to both our applicants and students to share their own Chester story.

Join us on the sofa

Our next Chester story project takes place during Induction Week when we’ll be touring around each of our campuses with our brand new yellow sofa! The aim of this campaign is to raise the profile of #MyChesterStory further by having something memorable happening during Induction Week that our staff and students can engage with. By encouraging our students to take a quick break from their day to join us on the sofa, we’re anticipating that this will result in a flurry of sofa selfies and create a buzz on social media. And to help fuel this buzz, the authors of our favourite social media posts will be in with a chance of winning a prize.

Alongside this, for those who volunteer to tell their story in front of the camera (i.e. as part of our next promo film), they’ll automatically be rewarded with a lucky dip voucher for a local visitor or retail attraction with the suggestion that they continue to enjoy their Chester story.

Join the story

Hopefully, after reading this blog, you are starting to get a feel for what the Chester story campaign is all about. However, if #MyChesterStory is going to be a real success, then we all have a part to play as it’s only with all your contributions that this hashtag will become a true representation of what epitomises the University of Chester. Everybody’s got a story to tell and we can’t wait to hear yours.

Until the next communication,


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