Morgan State University: Taking Advantage of "Texting" on Campus
- By Jarret L. Carter
- June 1st, 2008
Dramatic changes in today’s communicative society are shaping the way consumers receive news and information, prompting many colleges and universities to develop new ways to effectively communicate with students, alumni, and other key stakeholders. With costs for various marketing efforts rising, these communications strategies must prove to be as cost efficient as they are effective.
Baltimore’s Morgan State University is positioning itself to meet this challenge by evaluating all marketing efforts and determining which are going to work and keep us within our budgets. One of the ways we are doing this is through the use of mobile text messaging. We did our homework and found that it makes sense from every standpoint to include in our plans.
The Yankee Group recently reported that seven billion text messages are sent every month in the United States, and this number is up 20 percent from last year. This same report also stated that 80 percent of young adults between the ages of 18-28 are texting on a daily basis.
With statistics like the ones mentioned above, text messaging is a logical approach to better serving our student body and the community as a whole. In the upcoming school year, Morgan State University will broaden our usage of mobile technology to include prospective student outreach, marketing initiatives, alumni relations, and for special event notifications.
In the meantime, mobile technology is being integrated into our current marketing strategy to get in front of current and existing students, as well as university graduates. Thanks to Vesta Mobile Solutions and their Text Flow software, university branding and informational services are as easy as sending e-mail — only this time it’s delivered to a mobile phone. While we have an existing emergency alert system in place, we choose to partner with Vesta Mobile for our mobile marketing needs because of their knowledge of the industry. Administrators have the ability to log in online and send out a 160-character text message in a matter of seconds to a specified group of subscribers. Students can easily sign up via the Web or they can opt-in by texting the appointed numerical or alphabetical keyword to receive information direct to their phones. Integrating this mobile technology with the University’s marketing and communications strategies is easy and very effective.
Strengthening channels of communication between the student body and the administration is a goal for any institution of higher education. This service allows Morgan State to get in front of students using their form of communication. And, through mobile marketing efforts, students have the opportunity to sign up for a variety of text message announcements from their specific department or major. For example, a student who subscribes to the Earl G. Graves School of Business Mobile Announcements will receive messages informing them about the next Bryson-Sawyer business lecture, the date and time, as well as the name of the guest speaker. Each school will be instructed to send out three to six messages per month to their students’ cell phones and each message will be relevant to their academic and professional development. There will be no extra charges to the students; only standard text message rates apply, and many of our students subscribe to services that give them unlimited text messaging.
Television commercials and Internet advertisements designed for recruitment are tagged with a call to action — for example, text “Morgan” to 63218 for more information. This allows prospective high school students an opportunity to learn about the activities, events, summer programs, and registration dates via text messaging. These interactive ads demonstrate the University’s commitment to cutting-edge technology, and to the academic future of prospective students — all the while keeping Morgan State top of mind.
Keeping our alumni engaged is one of the University’s most important objectives, and the task of informing and alerting alumni is greatly improved by mobile technology. Alumni interested in receiving announcements about upcoming events can register via Morgan’s Website or text messaging.
By embracing the text messaging culture at Morgan State University, we believe we will have a dramatic impact on awareness, recruitment, and the engagement of the surrounding community.
And, while it is hard to predict exactly what the future holds, it is safe to say that communication methods and technology will continue to evolve. Therefore, it is imperative that universities, such as Morgan State, keep up in order to stay relevant with key stakeholders.
Jarrett L. Carter is the assistant director of Public Relations and Communications at Morgan State University, located in Baltimore. As Maryland’s public urban university, Morgan serves a multi-ethnic and multi-racial student body with a total enrollment of more than 6,500. For more information on Morgan State University, please visit www.morgan.edu.
And, for more information on mobile marketing, please visit: www.vestamobile.com.