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FE First Awards 2014 – deadline approaching fast

September 4, 2014

Get your entries in for the FE First Awards 2014 – closing date 26th September. The categories available this year are:

  1. Collaboration project
  2. PR campaign, sponsored by Pressvine
  3. Research project
  4. Events management
  5. Internal communications
  6. Website, sponsored by FE Marketing
  7. Innovative use of technology
  8. Digital media, sponsored by Net Natives
  9. Recruitment campaign
  10. Print publication
  11. Full-time prospectus*
  12. Marketing Team of the Year*, sponsored by the AoC

*=categories only open to CMN members .

Download the category entry forms (different for each category) from, where you can also find more information about the categories.

The awards will be presented on 24th November at the Gala Dinner and Awards evening at the College Marketing Network’s 27th Annual Conference at the Hilton Hotel Bracknell.

IPPR report Remember the young ones: improving career opportunities for Britain’s young people

August 19, 2014

A major report published last week by the IPPR and written by Tony Dolphin looks at the recent history of vocational training for young people. He also considers lessons from Europe and makes a range of recommendations, including on careers advice in schools and reforming the vocational system.

There are currently 868,000 young people 16-24 unemployed in the UK with 247,000 of these out of work for over a year. The report’s summary notes that both this and the previous governments have introduced measures to tackle youth unemployment but “too often these measures have not focused on the underlying causes of a tougher transition from education to employment.”

Lessons from other European countries show that our “skills system has not adapted fast enough to the pace of change”, and that “Youth transitions are improved by information about the employment outcomes of various options and courses, as part of a good programme of careers education and guidance.”

“Policy on apprenticeships in recent years has been dominated by a preoccupation with quantity, putting quality at risk” and “Apprenticeships should be seen … as a high quality vocational route into work for young people.”

A lot of emphasis is put on the importance of careers education, with many recommendations for improving the service and information young people receive, from Year 7 onwards. The report’s focus is always on employability and readiness for work in careers where there are vacancies: one fact that made the news was that in 2011-12, 94,000 young people trained for hair and beauty, when there were just 18,000 new jobs, while only 123,000 were trained for the 275,000 advertised construction and engineering jobs available.

The logical consequence is that “Good labour market information is vital to successful careers guidance.” – something all marketers would know.

Besides much focus on the transition from school to work, there is a lot about training and FE as well, and much that is of interest to college marketers. Download and read the report at

Press notice:

This report looks at five critical elements of the school-to-work transition for young people – the role of employers, vocational education, apprenticeships, careers guidance, and the benefits system – and at lessons the UK can learn from European economies with better youth employment records.

A long period without work at a young age can have a long-lasting effect on a person’s life chances, leading to a higher future likelihood of unemployment and lower future earnings. For this reason, UK policymakers should be particularly worried about the present level of youth unemployment. There are currently 868,000 young people aged 16–24 unemployed in the UK, and 247,000 of them have been looking for work for over a year.

This is not simply due to the financial crash and recession. While the last six or seven years have been particularly tough for the latest generation of young people, even before the financial crisis many of those entering the labour market for the first time were struggling to compete with older workers for jobs. This suggests that even a full-blown economic recovery is unlikely to solve the problem of youth unemployment in the UK.

The report makes a series of recommendations to address five critical policy areas, each of which requires a focused response.

  • Employers are dissatisfied with the school-leavers who are applying to them for jobs, but a large part of the problem arises because employers are not prepared to be sufficiently involved in young people’s training to ensure that they develop meaningful, useful skills. The best way to increase employers’ engagement is to have them take a financial stake in the success of the system.
  • Vocational education in England needs to be reformed so that it is held in higher esteem by employers and young people alike. As a pathway into work, higher-level vocational education should be seen as a valid alternative to a university education.
  • Policy on apprenticeships in recent years has been dominated by a preoccupation with quantity, putting quality at risk. Apprenticeships should be seen by students and employers as a high-quality vocational route into work for young people.
  • In those European countries that have low rates of youth unemployment, careers education and guidance play a crucial role in ensuring a smooth transition from education to work. Our recommendations focus on embedding and resourcing careers advice in schools, particularly at key milestone moments when young people make vital decisions about their future.
  • The current benefits system fails to differentiate between the needs of younger umemployed people and older jobseekers, such as finishing basic education or receiving on-the-job work experience. We propose that a distinct work, training and benefits system should be established for young people.


ETF Operational Plan 2014-16

August 7, 2014

The Education & Training Foundation’s Operational Plan for 2014-16 includes Vocational Educational and Training as one of its 3 key priorities – including building and developing relationships and reputational work with employers.

The report sets out “The Challenge” as follows:

A sustained return to prosperity will depend on being much more ambitious about the capacity of individuals, employers and vocational teachers and trainers to raise their game. Strong advanced economies need high quality vocational education and training that can support individuals, businesses and communities to grow and succeed. In England, we need a VET system that develops the ability to perform in a job, and provides a platform for progression and economic growth.

As a country, we know how to do vocational education and training well. The Commission on Adult Vocational Teaching and Learning7 (CAVTL) reported on “genuinely world-class vocational provision in a whole range of settings”, but the Commission also found that practice is inconsistent, paradoxically ‘because of the requirement to work within a system that continues to specify so much from the centre’. The challenge is to combine the need for quality standards with a locally responsive system, and to build on the expertise we have, to make it more visible and replicate it more widely….

We can only build a strong VET system in partnership with others, especially employers of all sizes. Therefore our strategic relationships and reputational work, in particular with employers, are critical as a means to achieving our goals on VET linked to the sector….

The “Intended Outcomes” of the Plan include:

  • A strong VET system, which increases the volume, quality and impact of vocational education and training at levels 3 to 5.
  • Enhanced reputation of the FE and training sector in the eyes of employers large and small, as they see themselves as all part of one VET system, not in a supplier/consumer relationship.


Sponsorship opportunities – meet our members at the Conference 2014

June 24, 2014

The College Marketing Network’s 27th Annual Conference will offer a range of opportunities for sponsors and exhibitors to meet our delegates – many of them budget holders.

Take an exhibition stand, sponsor one of our prestigious FE First Awards, or support the awards presentation – browse the brochure here and contact 01772 257833 to find out more.

24-25 November, Hilton Hotel Bracknell

FE First Awards for marketing excellence 2014

June 19, 2014

The College Marketing Network is inviting entries for the 2014 FE First Awards for marketing excellence. The awards will be made at the Hilton Hotel Bracknell as part of our 27th Annual Conference on 24th November.

The categories for FE First Awards 2014 are:

  • Collaboration project
  • PR campaign, sponsored by Pressvine
  • Research project
  • Events management
  • Internal communications
  • Website, sponsored by FE Marketing
  • Innovative use of technology
  • Digital media, sponsored by Net Natives
  • Recruitment campaign
  • Print publication
  • Full-time prospectus*
  • Marketing Team of the Year*

* These categories are only open to colleges in current membership of the College Marketing Network at the time of the award being made (24 November 2014).

Download more information and the entry forms (different for each category) here.

College PR teams: integrate and thrive

May 20, 2014




Post provided by Pressvine

College PR teams: Integrate and thrive – by adopting the Content Marketing ideology

We are now well into the ‘age of Content Marketing’, which many recognise to be the link that connects PR, SEO and Social Media marketing.

The content marketing approach is intended to provide an integrated solution around the creation and distribution of an organization’s content, utilising these communication channels together in order to maximise the relevant reach of content, such as good news.

There exists huge potential for College marketing teams to benefit greatly from this philosophy, whilst many of the most successful already are.

The key is to reverse the perception that broadcasting positive news is a ‘one way’ dissemination of press releases to media contacts.

content_marketingWhy care?

So why should you care? And what benefits would you gain from adopting the Content Marketing philosophy as opposed to a ‘traditional PR only’ philosophy?

Firstly, Public Relations itself is defined as the practice of managing the spread of information between an organisation and its publics, often with the desired outcome to better influence these publics, whether that is to make a buying decision, create awareness or improve perception of a brand.

Earned media (coverage), SEO optimised news content and a social strategy to drive relevant sharing of this content are all tools available to achieve this – so are these channels not also an equally relevant component within your PR tool kit as the traditional press release? Of course, the answer is yes.

Staying with the example of ‘good news content’, a press release intends to create earned media. However, so too would an easily searchable and shareable blog post, or a well optimised article within an organisation’s newsroom.

With the decline in print media and a significantly higher proportion of a college’s employer and student target market now finding content online and via social media, this has never been so important.

I have also seen innovative college marketing teams re-market their news to employers, local headteachers of schools and internal heads of department, on a case by case basis as eshots, highlighting that there is ‘more than one way to skin a cat’.

If the content within your news article is something that your target audience cares about and are actively searching for, it stands to reason that, should your article be well optimised for search (easy to find) and well optimised for social sharing, this will also succeed in reaching and influencing your target audience.

The key is to integrate and utilise all of these tools as part of your daily PR practices.

The most successful in house communications teams have long since embraced the integrated approach to communications.

This could be a useful checklist in your quest for success:

(1) Know what your target audience care about. Listen to conversations on social media, find out what are the most frequently searched terms in your area of expertise, the top ranking blog posts within your sector as well as the topical issues hitting headlines

(2) Create informative, valuable content for this audience. Think beyond a ‘salesy’ press release, look to inform, educate and add value in your quest for influence

(3) Integrate various relevant communication channels at the same time to maximise relevant reach of your content. For example, press release to target media, optimised article within your organisations newsroom, dissemination of content via social media or sharing of the article to key influencers

(4) Always measure your success. In addition to earned media, how many web hits did your news post get? Where did they come from? How many social shares? What demographic? Analyse, tweak (if needed) and repeat.

Pressvine PR software now enables over 15 UK Colleges to maximise relevant audiences for their great news across all communication channels, empowering their communications staff to hit key trade press, social media, online search and even stakeholders at the right time with the right news content. Our experience working with these lead me to write this article, which I hope will help you too.

For more information as to how the Pressvine PR platform helps innovative College Marketing & PR professionals achieve success through integrating PR tasks, or for a demonstration, drop me a line on the details below.

Adam Tipper, Commercial Director, Pressvine Worldwide



The College Marketing Network is very grateful for Pressvine’s time and support in providing this feature. Please note however that the College Marketing Network does not endorse or recommend individual suppliers and that any services members may subsequently purchase should be as a result of their own research and satisfy their own belief that any supplier will meet their needs.

Swindon College regional networking meeting

May 13, 2014

P1030642Our meeting at Swindon College on 8th May drew the largest crowd of members so far, for a varied programme of presentations and a discussion session for members’ topics.

Susan Lewis of Northampton College started off the day with a lively and informative session on running a large event – the 2013 FEstival, which was attended by nearly 3000 young people and their parents at the college last June. It was a huge gamble for the college, hosting and managing a music festival in miniature, but one that has paid off in profile, positive response and reputation. Northampton College won gold in the FE First Awards last year for their entry on this event, and Susan had lots of advice for colleagues who might be considering something as brave.

Christopher Brossard and Liz Williams then talked us through the redevelopment of the website for Richard Huish College – from an attractive one that didn’t do all they needed to a purpose-built and responsive one that is fit for purpose but under constant review. They outlined useful strategies and pitfalls to look out for – and told us that it was attending the 2013 regional meeting at Swindon that had spurred them on to enter their website project for the FE First Awards – where it won Gold last November.

P1030670Delegates had half an hour before lunch (not long enough according to feedback!) for round table discussions on issues of their choice, before we enjoyed an excellent buffet lunch provided by the college. Our final presentation was by Helen Ward from Chichester College which has recently been graded outstanding by Ofsted. Helen outlined how the college has been preparing for Ofsted over a period of time, and how marketing has supported and helped to develop the ethos and approach needed to achieve the grading. We also had contributions from Carla Tucker of Swindon College, and Gill Fowkes of Weston College, both also outstanding colleges.

Thanks to all our speakers for their contributions to the day, and to Swindon College for hosting us.


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