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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.

Regional meeting at Bedford College

April 9, 2014

We’ve visited a number of fantastic new buildings at colleges around the country, but rarely amazing old buildings – a few years ago we had a regional meeting at Bridgwater College’s Cannington Centre which was very impressive, and so is the Bedford Sixth Form, where we convened for our event last week. Originally a private girls’ school, the site is a fantastic Victorian pile, including a chapel complex where we met in the Old Prayer Room.


21st century technology was a bit reluctant to catch up with us, so we started the day with some old-fashioned conversation, discussing 24+ loans, alumni, and other topics of interest, before hearing from Michael Bennett, Head of Marketing & Communications at South Essex College, on using research to inform curriculum planning, and later Lee Parker, Marketing Manager at Bedford College, who gave us an update on the college’s social media policies.

An excellent buffet lunch facilitated more networking and conversation, and photos are now on our facebook page. Feedback to the day included:

  • “Another great event. Thanks to all.”
  • “Great mix of marketing colleagues.”
  • “Very informative and useful. Nice to see other people have the same problems.”
  • “All very helpful.”


Regional meeting at The Oldham College

April 8, 2014

There was a cold brisk wind blowing off the moors as I parked at The Oldham College’s University Centre before our regional networking meeting, but the welcome was warm and friendly. The large and informal lecture room was provided with coffee and all the facilities we needed for the third meeting in our 2014 series.


As always, we had a good mix of volunteer speakers from colleges around the area with general discussion and exchange of ideas. Rebecca Wilkins, Director of Marketing at Salford City College, told us about her experiences of using Vector to research the college community and inform curriculum and marketing planning. Her enthusiasm for the tool was evident as she showed us some of its capabilities live online.

A general discussion on alumni was started with a quick overview of York College’s strategy, based on our meeting there recently, and we also talked about prospectuses, aspects of social media and much more. A buffet lunch provided more opportunities for debate, then Mark Whittaker, Director of Marketing at Stoke City College, gave an overview of the college’s partnerships and support for a number of academies in the city. He outlined some of the challenges of working with the schools, and of marketing their curriculum alongside that of the college, as well as taking about the context of relationships with other providers.

Thank you to our speakers, to The Oldham College for hosting us, and to Chris Cartwright at the college for liaising and making all the arrangements.

Regional networking meeting at York College – alumni, schools liaison and more….

March 14, 2014


We had a busy day at York College on 6th March, covering alumni, schools liaison and time management – and we enjoyed lunch and refreshments prepared and served by the college’s Hospitality students.

Head of Marketing at York College Liz Moon opened the day with a presentation on alumni: as part of the FHE provision in the city, the college has been part of a research project to find out more about the attitudes and careers of the ex-students of the university and colleges there. This has given the college a range of pointers to help them get their alumni strategy started, and Liz discussed the actions they’ve taken so far and the plans they have for further developments.

Kevin Burns, Head of Marketing & Schools Liaison at Bishop Auckland College, gave an overview of his team’s schools liaison work, and before lunch, we were welcomed to the college by Vice Principal Graeme Murdoch, who spoke of the importance of marketing to the development and work of York College.

The hot buffet and desserts cleared away, we heard from Rachel Till about some ways of working smarter and more effectively in these pressurised times. Rachel was a college head of marketing before starting her own PR and marketing company, and her recent experiences as a freelance have given her a range of insights which she shared with us.


Conversation and exchanges of experiences flowed over lunch, and were still continuing after the formal end of the day. For those who didn’t have to rush away, Liz’s colleague Jill provided a tour of the impressive building which still looks new although it has now been open several years.

The College Marketing Network is grateful to York College for their hospitality, and to Liz and her team for facilitating the event.


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