REAL WORLD MARKETING

Miscellaneous observations from an educational communicator’s perspective

Controlling the conversation  NPR recently aired a story about 18-year-old Colton Harris-Moore, who has a global fan base. No, he’s not a musician, a model, or an actor—he’s a convicted felon who has a knack for escaping captivity and eluding capture. And even though he has stolen from many people, he has a following of fans around the world. Harris-Moore himself seems to have exerted no effort toward growing his own popularity, but his Facebook fan page boasts over 17,000 members.

Harris-Moore has an intriguing story that has taken on a life of its own. Just think what your institution could do with social media if you took control of the conversation should an unfortunate event happen on campus. Negative stories are going to get out. If there’s a robbery on campus, everyone will be talking. But if, through social media, you focus the buzz on what the institution is doing to address safety concerns, you could show that the security situation is improving, rather than degenerating. If a villain like Harris-Moore can be made a hero, then surely your university’s image does not need to be another victim when bad things happen.

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