University of Reading uses lecturers' stories to appeal to prospective undergraduates

The University of Reading has put the inspiring work of its lecturers and graduates at the centre of an integrated campaign designed to attract 16- and 17-year-olds to its undergraduate open days this year.

University of Reading is trying to attract undergraduates by promoting inspiring work by staff and students
University of Reading is trying to attract undergraduates by promoting inspiring work by staff and students

A range of projects, from research fighting dementia to technology helping people 'feel' virtual reality, are featured as part of the campaign, which invites prospects to "Be RED".

For example, under the headline "Protect rare species", it talks about School of Biological Sciences lecturer Dr Tara Pirie’s work tracking leopards in South Africa and how it helped protect them against poachers.

The campaign's key message is that the university has a strong impact on students beyond knowledge transfer and an undergraduate degree.

The success of the campaign will be measured on the basis of registrations for the open days, as well as engagements such as prospective students downloading the university’s prospectus.

"As a campus university we know that if a prospect attends an open day the conversion rate increases dramatically, so our ultimate success factor is the number of visitors to our open days in June and October," said Karen Smalley, head of marketing and campaigns.

The predominantly digital campaign is using PR, social media – including Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook and Instagram – search and advertising to reach people and pull them to the university’s dedicated recruitment website.

The university is also promoting it in forums on university guide-type websites such as What Uni and the Complete University Guide, and will do similar at the Reading Festival, where it has a presence each year.

Reading was ranked in the top quarter of UK universities for the third year running in The Times and Sunday Times' Good University Guide 2018, and increased its intake by 17 per cent between 2015/16 and 2017/18 to 4,614 undergraduates.

However, Smalley said that, rather than rely on league tables, the university wants to "evidence the strength of our impact so it is a more emotive and holistic set of messages we are portraying".

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