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The Gatepost Editorial: Discarding ineffective marketing           

By The Gatepost Editorial Board 

Framingham State has been struggling to recruit and retain students for many years and is attempting to rebrand the University and undertake a new marketing campaign. 

The decline in enrollment could be because some prospective students don't know much about Framingham State!

But why is that?

This is the question the Gatepost Editorial Board has been asking as we evaluate our enrollment compared to that of our sister state universities, including the two closest to us in the region: Fitchburg State and Worcester State. 

According to The Boston Globe, in 2012, Framingham State enrolled 6,506 students; in 2022, 4,111.

In 2012, Worcester State enrolled 6,221 students; in 2022, 5,311. 

In 2012, Fitchburg State enrolled 6,889 students; in 2022, 6,554. 

Clearly, both in terms of real numbers and percentages, Framingham State is in worse shape than the institutions closest to it geographically, even though FSU is the oldest state university in Massachusetts and the closest to Boston, among other strengths. 

At Monday’s All University Meeting, Iris Godes, dean of strategic enrollment management & chief enrollment officer, stated that FSU’s ads are not in spaces like the Natick Mall because physical advertisements are not the University's focus. 

However, Salem State and Bridgewater State seem to be working with a different playbook because they are both advertising in the Natick Mall.

Godes said because students are more digitally knowledgeable than ever, the University's focus has been digital advertising. 

A question was posed by an audience member at the meeting as to why Framingham has ads on the sides of garbage and recycling trucks.

What exactly does that say about our target audience?

Godes said the advertisements were only supposed to be on recycling trucks to promote the idea of sustainability. 

Is sustainability the first idea that comes to mind when prospective students see an advertisement on a recycling truck? How do you differentiate a garbage truck from a recycling truck, anyway? 

The audience at the All University Meeting applauded when Godes stated the advertisements on the recycling trucks are no longer being funded by the University.

One ad that is currently being funded is an amateur-looking montage of staged photos of current and past FSU students that appears on Snapchat. 

Godes is correct that the next generation of students is more digitally focused than ever. However, that means most of us have ad blockers or online filtration systems in order to avoid viewing sponsored content.

So, are prospective students seeing these advertisements at all? 

If Framingham State is going to focus on advertising digitally, it needs to do it well. 

If FSU wants to successfully market the University, it should replicate the success of fsu365, a Framingham State Instagram account run by Student Trustee Ryan Mikelis, assisted by FSAB president Ben Hurney, both of whom work in the Dean of Students office. 

As the site is run as an Instagram account and is not “sponsored,” there is no way for an ad blocker to filter out its content. 

This account published 91 posts in the spring semester alone - compared to the 57 posts on the University’s official Instagram account - framinghamstateu - over the entire academic year. 

The fsu365 account highlights students: the clubs they are a part of, the events they attend, and the activities they enjoy on campus. 

The content produced by Mikelis is captivating, funny, and informative. It includes everything that would make a student come to Framingham State.

This is the kind of publicity our University needs. 

Mikelis is also a student leader who is in touch with the campus community and the demographic that would be enrolling here in the fall.

The content Mikelis posts would come up organically on prospective and current students' feeds and is not staged or scripted. 

The unposed moments on campus he features provide an authentic perspective of Framingham State.

FSU must strive for more authenticity in its marketing campaign. 

The advertising needs to be produced with the input and creativity of students. It needs to show what prospective students can be a part of once they come to campus. 

We should be taking advantage of our academic Marketing Department and commissioning its students to come up with social media campaigns. 

Because obviously, student-generated content is more likely to be successful. 

Framingham State’s academic Marketing Department could make working on the University’s advertisements a possible capstone project.

Or the Office of the Dean of Students could make developing social media content a contest. 

The students at this University are brilliant. No one knows the value of this institution better than the students themselves. Why not showcase that knowledge?

Framingham State is an amazing institution with so many opportunities and qualities that make it worthwhile.

However, no prospective student is going to know this if we are not properly marketing that to them.

Some of the current advertising for this University should be put in a garbage truck, not on it. 


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