IDEAS

We invite you to browse our thoughts on putting events to work to support your institution’s goals, gathered from decades of work on campuses across the country.

How We Do It

Case studies that offer insights into how we work with colleges and universities.
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Tactical Advice

Expert tips on making your events soar
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Top 5 Tips for Event Planners

Become “besties” with the new president’s staff. They can assist in quickly flushing out your new leader’s style and preferences – especially when it comes to protocol – as you pull together a plan.
 Don’t move forward without knowing where you’ve been. Capitalize on...

Tour de U: How to Rule the Road

Pack those bags…It’s roadshow season. Everyone from the president, provost, and deans, to star faculty, trustees, and celebrity alumni are hitting the road for distant corners of stakeholder country to build excitement, deepen relationships, and rack up valuable face...

Don’t Just Graduate – Elevate

Of course the Commencement team has been meeting and planning for months now. So many details to unravel and daunting logistics to tame. But there is still time to hit pause and consider breathing a bit of fresh air into all that tradition. Those of you who know us...

Value Add

As we prepare for the typical springtime happenings like Reunion, Trustee meetings and Commencement, consider a few simple things that are sure to add value to every audience encounter. Never pass up an opportunity to put a face on the institution through photography,...

Gifted and Talented: Keeping Your Gift Officers on the Front Lines

Gifted and Talented. And we don’t mean precocious middle schoolers. Instead, we mean your gift officers, the unsung heroes of every institution. In old Blues parlance – these are the folks who bring home the bacon and can fry it up in the pan. While these talented...

Even Successful Campaigns Need a Boost

There comes a point in the life of every campaign, where it needs a little extra “oomph” so you might as well plan for it. The timing is as individual as the institution, but there are a few typical points at which re-energizing is necessary. It isn’t serendipitous...

One Size Does Not Fit All in Campaign Launches

It used to be that when someone mentioned a campaign launch, everyone knew just what was meant, i.e., one clear moment in time when key constituents gathered in one place to celebrate the institution and its quest for funding. That’s not all there is to it any more....

The Not-So-Quiet Phase

A colleague recently used the term, “the loudest quiet phase ever,” to describe the leadership portion of the institution’s campaign. It is a funny play on words but at its core can be a well-thought out strategy for moving the campaign and its messaging forward...

Campaign Worthy Events

If asked, most people can come up with a fairly comprehensive list of the types of gatherings that are typically considered to be campaign events: there’s the public launch, followed by a regional tour of some sort, then perhaps a mid-point energizer and finally the...

Board Stiff

In talking with colleagues across myriad schools, it’s obvious that a tremendous amount of thought and effort goes into the planning and execution of board meetings. After all, these are important, successful people who are volunteering their time and talents to help...

Campaign Engagement Strategies: Tracking More Than the Money

We frequently enter the campaign event planning process at the point where careful attention is being paid to tracking the influx of contributions that will move a campaign from the quiet to the public phase. Less frequent is the tracking of the levels of constituent...

Perspectives

Reflections and wisdom from decades at the front line of higher education events.
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New (Academic) Year’s Resolutions

Autumn is just a few days away and it's the perfect time to commit to making this academic year better than the last. Here then is a curmudgeon's guide to how it's done: Be elitist - Try using discretion when identifying the audiences you are targeting for...well,...

Don’t Lose Your Mind Over Events

As we pack our bags for the 2016 CASE Leadership Summit, this year’s theme, “See the Big Picture,” got us thinking about how easy it is to lose perspective when you’re preparing for a major celebration. Sitting at the leadership table with the same stakeholders week...

Go Forth! Commencement 2016

An annual tradition, it's time to share a few of our favorite remarks from 2016 Commencement exercises across the country: "I feel so honored to be a detail, a minor character in the story of your graduation day. I feel so honored to bear witness to the beginning of...

Are U Listening?

When it comes to key stakeholders and what they are trying to say, are U a passive or an active listener? Studies show that passive listening results in an information absorption rate of only 20 - 30%. That is a lot of information falling on deaf ears (pun intended) -...

Building the Experience

Whether it's one special night or a weekend extravaganza, U need to pay particular attention to the type of experience under construction.  Identifying the goals and objectives of the event is a great first step. And understanding the folks you hope to have in...

Go Forth! Commencement 2015

To celebrate the season, we offer some of our favorite quotes from the 2015 Commencement addresses. Enjoy! "I beg you to remember that it is not possible to know the end results of our efforts. Please voice your dissent. Anticipate your erasure. And find something you...

Self-Centered

One of the beauties of higher education is being surrounded by our targeted audiences. We can ask current students what their admissions process was like and why they picked U. We can talk with alumni about their experiences in the hopes of figuring out why they do or...

It’s Not Me, It’s U

It’s true. We had a good thing going years ago. In fact, I picked U out of the crowd as a really good fit once upon a time. I thought U had a lot to offer and most of the time U gave me what I needed, what I wanted. But things have changed. I’ve moved on –...

Well-Staffed

Here’s to Administrative Staff - the unsung campus heroes. The ones that make it all happen quietly and behind the scenes. They keep the lights on and the classes scheduled, the lawns mowed and the computers humming. They are fully engaged in the care and feeding of U...

Lost and Found: Reconnecting with Lost Alumni

Every institution we speak with eventually spends time discussing their disengaged alumni, frequently dubbing them a “lost generation.” They grapple with how to find them, how to communicate with them and ultimately how to re-engage (or perhaps actually truly engage)...

What’s In It for Me?

Every one of us has (at least silently) asked this question. It’s not a bad question. It’s a human question. And when it comes to developing an effective engagement strategy, being able to answer it is an important step in defining success. Our first impulse is likely...

U are Not a Theme Park

We cringe every time we are asked the question: what should the theme of this year’s [fill in the blank] event be? Fortunately, the answer is always an easy one. U – the theme of the event should be U, is always U. The actual question to be asked, the one that...

An Anthology of U

The notion of storytelling is big right now in higher education, just as years ago the push was to describe, not define, the institution and its offerings. We are firm believers in these approaches, which ultimately represent ways to help constituents connect to the...

Don’t B Flat

It’s difficult to describe but you know it when you see it, hear it, feel it. So do your constituents. In fact, they are probably more sensitive to it than you are. Let’s call it tone deafness. Regardless of terminology it can be the cause for certain connection...

My Old School

Steely Dan had it right. No one is ever going back to their old school. For better or worse, that institution is gone. Fortunately, today’s model is frequently one that is more vibrant and meaningful and relevant than the one from long ago. People change, cultures...

Identity Crisis

Who are U? What is authentic to U? What is the essence of U? What can happen only when U are involved? What couldn’t happen without U? Who cares about U? How do fans feel about U? Why do people choose U? When do U shine? What do U see in the future? Who do U wish...

Thinking Strategically

Insights into trends and innovative thinking on how events can support institutional goals.
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Rolling Out a New Era

Making the Most of Presidential Transitions Your president has announced their resignation, launching a critical time in the history of your institution. While every situation is unique, how you and your team leverage this opportunity in the days to come will help you...

Knock Knock

The typical response to the joke is "Who's there?" We suggest that the more important question is "Who wasn't there?" So much time and attention is put into ensuring that the guest experience is a knock-out for those folks who opted to attend. For sure, this is not...

Programmed to Receive

Congratulations - you've done it. The people you want in the room are in the room. Their very presence proves that they are ready and willing to receive information from you. In fact, they understand it's part of the price of admission and they expect it. They also...

Who Do U Look Like?

"Who do U look like?" may seem like an odd question to ask an educational institution but it's one that is always front and center for us. It's especially pertinent when we are in the midst of assembling the right players to be in a video, on a stage, basically...

Are U Talking to Me?

Next time U plan to reach out to a constituency group, consider asking yourself the following questions: What do U really know about them today? Why do U believe they will value the contact? How do U know the best way to reach them? When was the last time U connected...

The 3 Rs

Regardless of the size of the gathering, when we develop programming we always think of teachable moments framed by the Three Rs. But not the ones from back in the day. Instead we think in terms of relevance, resonance, and recognition.  Is the content applicable to...

Crowded House: Taking the Guesswork Out of Guest Attendance

Large or small, private or public, every institution we know worries about how to get the right people in the right room at the right moment. Most understand that live events are one of the only times they can be absolutely certain that guests are fully on-board with...

Success! You’ve Met Your Goal–What’s Next?

U did it! U met the big, audacious goal and completed a successful campaign. All that hard work paid off and now it’s time to celebrate. A few things to keep in mind as you consider a fitting close to your campaign. Who do you want to invite to share in the glory?...

What Did You Say?

The stage was set, the lighting was fabulous, the sound was crystal clear – and yet no one heard a word you said. The room was filled with the right people gathered in the perfect place – and still no one listened to you. Even worse – you weren’t aware of the problem...

I Accept! Turning Graduates into Engaged Alumni

Those are the words uttered by many excited high school graduates over the past few months. To future college students, these words mean freedom, new experiences and a chance to find their passions. We hope it also means that they accept the responsibility for the...

Intentionally Incidental: Real People, Real Stories

I recently heard a colleague use the term incidental learning and it immediately resonated with me. If you are unfamiliar with the term, incidental, or informal, learning is essentially the learning how to do something; the adopting and adapting to circumstances that...

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