Blurred Lines: University Marketing and Graduate Admissions Working Together

During Capture Higher Ed’s recent virtual conference, INNOVATE 2021, Jacksonville University’s Katie Jackson and Vinnie Rodriguez unwittingly had some attendees humming the 2013 hit single, “Blurred Lines,” by Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams. At the outset of their first-day session about building a strong inquiry pool for graduate programs, Jackson, who works in marketing, and Rodriguez, who works in admissions, talked about “blurring the lines” between marketing and graduate admissions.

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“It’s a point we all know but sometimes forget — the importance of marketing and admissions working together,” said Katie Jackson, director of creative and digital marketing at Jacksonville. Four years ago, the university committed to integrating marketing and admissions as best they could. “People often will see me and think I work in admissions. That is a victory. We want those lines to be blurred, so the greatest success can happen.”

Bolstering collaboration between Jacksonville’s marketing and graduate enrollment operations came at a time when increasing the quantity and quality of the school’s graduate applicant pool became increasingly important. The university recently opened a third location for graduate studies and launched six new graduate and professional studies programs.

This only accelerated the digital direction they were already moving toward when it came to graduate recruitment, said Rodriguez, associate director of enrollment operations. “With the greater availability of cohorts, we had to beef up our graduate pipeline to support it.”

Jackson and Rodriguez outlined a few examples of how marketing and admissions can best collaborate.

  1. Use Bi-Weekly Working Sessions and Strategic Marketing Meetings for Graduate Enrollment. The working sessions are for people who are creating the outreach materials and campaigns; the strategic meetings are for vice presidents, senior directors and above to talk about the strategies behind the campaigns.
  2. Set Aside Summer Planning Fridays. “In admissions you never sleep; it’s never not busy,” Jackson conceded. “But in the summer, it does slow down a little bit.” The Summer Planning Fridays are four hours on the calendar marked out to strategically plan admissions and marketing for grad during the summer.
  3. Keep Lines of Communication Open. Whether through email, phone, text or teams, Jackson and Rodriguez communicate clearly and regularly on graduate enrollment campaigns.

“Blurred lines are a great illustration of how we’ve come to work together,” Rodriguez said. “Building the inter-personal dynamic. Knowing enough about a person to realize when a good time to text is, or the best way to communicate.”

Jackson added: “It’s helped us see our greatest success.”

By Kevin Hyde, Senior Content Manager, Capture Higher Ed