Bob Johnson's Blog on Higher Education Marketing

February 2008 Archives

Right now I'm working on competitive website reviews of 12 law schools for one of my clients. And so far, I'm convinced that I've wandered into a lost segment of higher education that, despite what I read about the competitive nature of recruiting law students, just hasn't done much in the world of online marketing.

Consider this. I've now  made an online inquiry at 11 of the 12 schools. (At one, there was no online inquiry form.) Each of them asked for my email address. That was several weeks ago. To date, I've received an email response from 2 of the schools. That, to be kind, is pretty poor performance.

OK, this is far from a comprehensive survey of online law school recruitment. And I do know from presentations done for the Law School Admissions Council in 2006 that there are indeed some good communication features at law school websites. But I'm still surprised at this response from a mix of private and public law schools.

"Deadwood Report" Adds Marketing Data

Meanwhile, the marketing world is advancing on the law school world. A new "Deadwood Report" is in preparation to rate law schools according to the activity of their faculty in teaching, research, and community services. The originators have hit on this approach to try to test the claims made by law schools on their websites about the quality and dedication of their faculty.

Read more about the new "Deadwood" plan at the Inside Higher Education article at

Student Engagement in Law School: Important Marketing Information

And of course, the marvelous people at the National Survey of Student Engagement that ask undergraduate students how engaged they are with their education have a similar instrument for law schools. You can download the 2007 report that lists participating schools from the website at

In my fantasy world, I dream that prospective students and parents will pressure law schools who participate into making public what students say about them. It hasn't happened yet for the regular NSSE and it likely will not happen soon for law schools. But I can dream. Change might even come to the Lost World of law school marketing.


Sometime you indeed find worthy news close to home. Sunday's copy of the Battle Creek Inquirer included an advertisement for a Web Content Editor at Spring Arbor University in Spring Arbor, MI. As always, the continued growth of positions like this keeps the hope of a cleaner, crisper presentation of web content alive and well.

From the newspapter ad, a trip to the website at located these details about desired experience and how the editor will spend his or her time:

  • Qualifications: A bachelor's degree and 3 years experience in public relations or marketing, including at least two years of significant responsibility for an institutional Web presence. Two or more years experience in communications or marketing related position. Demonstrated proofreading/editing skills. Experience with digital content management systems, knowledge of Dreamweaver or comparable GUI web development application. Experience in developing information architecture plans and organizing content. Individual will exhibit a life and service that is in full accord with the Spring Arbor University concept and community.
  • Responsibilities: Writes a variety of communications pieces, including Web site copy, best practices and writing standards, and Web style documents with emphasis on clarity and conciseness. Edits and approves content submitted by University departments. Writes assigned and self-initiated content for the Web. Organizes Web content. Maintains University marketing standards as well as editorial writing standards and quality for Web site text. Designs and develops Web pages for schools, departments and offices. Develops system and best practices for maintaining Web Content. Exhibits strong attention for detail with ability to handle multiple priorities in fast-paced environment.

The marvelous research folks at the Pew Internet Project are working with Elon University on a new survey of "Internet stakeholders" to see whether or not people agree with "recent statements by leaders in science, technology, business and politics" that Pew feels are "provacative." The Pew email arrived yesterday.

In the survey, "Each scenario or set of scenarios is prefaced by an extremely brief explanation of the status in 2007 regarding the issues involved." I've copied each of those for future reading.

For now, this seemed a good opportunity to report what these "leaders" believe are the trends most important to study as we move toward the target date of 2020.

• The mobile phone is the internet connection tool for most people in the world.
• Social tolerance has advanced significantly due in great part to the internet.
• Content control through copyright-protection technology dominates.
• Transparency heightens individual integrity and forgiveness.
• Many lives are touched by the use of augmented reality or spent interacting in artificial spaces.
• Talk and touch are common technology interfaces.
• Next-generation research will be used to improve the current internet; it won't replace it.
• Few lines divide professional from personal time, and that's OK.

What do you think?

I expect to be well retired by 2020. Many readers, on the other hand, will be at mid-career or a bit later and will have a more active interest in how these changes might impact their higher education marketing efforts. You may already be incorporating some of them into your long-range marketing plans. Or at least your occasional long-range thoughts.

The research report is promised in a few months. I'll include that note in a blog posting or newsletter when it happens.

Until then, take advantage of the valuable information already available from Pew Internet research. The 5 latest research reports are at

Bob Johnson
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