In November 2018, I was hired as a Communications Specialist for the European Master in Migration and Intercultural Relations (EMMIR).
Though the programme had existed for over 14 years at that point, there were not enough resources dedicated specifically to communications. But we had a vision: growing the EMMIR program to be more recognisable, and to bring the master's course to the global stage!
So, how we get there?
Building a comms strategy worthy of the global stage
After much discussion with the course director and board, and researching the requirements from the European Commission, we decided on 3 primary goals:
Increase the number of students applying to EMMIR every year,
Increase awareness of EMMIR as an excellent master's programme among other migration-related institutions, and
Strengthen community engagement among alumni and students.
Once those were established, I came up with three main areas that would help us reach those goals: rebranding, website overhaul, and community engagement on social media.
Step 1. Rebrand: creating a visual identity that represents the excellence of EMMIR and Erasmus Mundus
EMMIR didn't have a strong visual brand identity before I began working with: the website had a prominent map in the header and used the colour blue, but the logo had a vintage feeling with brown and turquoise colours.
The EMMIR offices at the University of Oldenburg in Germany were also covered with various maps related to migration, and even one upside-down map that read: "EMMIR turns your world upside down".
After many iterations, I knew we wanted to stick with a dark blue colour which is associated with trust, authority, and leadership. I also took the unofficial EMMIR motto to heart, and turned the globe upside down.
Step 2. Website overhaul: designing and implementing a user-friendly website that establishes EMMIR as a modern and forward-thinking institution
Now that we had a logo and a visual identity, it was time to re-make our website! In order to attract top candidate students from around the world, EMMIR's website has to be easy-to-understand, more modern and visually appealing, and make alumni feel proud to say "this is my alma mater."
The previous website was disorganised and difficult for potential and current students to navigate and to find the information they needed. This is what I was working with:
And this is what I created:
With a new information hierarchy and pagination, the relevant information for students and according to EU regulations for Erasmus Mundus programmes is now easier to find and understand.
New graphics explain complex topics such as student mobility options between various universities and countries.
Student and alumni photos make the programme feel more approachable and trustworthy, allowing potential students to imagine themselves as part of the next cohort.
What do you think? I like it!
Step 3. Social media strategy
With the basics of a new visual identity and website in place, it was time to start promoting the program!
EMMIR’s existing social media presence was limited to Facebook, and there were only 2,000 likes over the 8 years the page had been active.
Our audience on Facebook consisted of mainly three groups: alumni, potential students/applicants, and those in our network (other migration programmes and partner organisations).
I developed a social media strategy that would engage our existing audiences, creating champions and ambassadors of our brand from our students and alumni, while also making us more attractive to potential students.
Using community building and alumni networking best practices, our audiences became much more active and excited about our content! We've started hosting online and in-person networking events (with an average of 50 attendees in each session), sharing more updates about what current students are up to, and opening up the EMMIR programme by sharing behind-the-scenes information.
In the two years of managing the Facebook page, we have gained another 1,000 followers, increasing our new follower rate by 200%. I also established a presence on Twitter and LinkedIn, and registered the programme as an academic institution, allowing alumni to link their profiles to EMMIR’s. We have had a combined 800+ followers on those channels since then.