Insights — Let's Be Honest

Let's Be Honest

/ April 27, 2020
Matt McFadden
Matt McFadden

Ah, the internet. Way back in 1994, Bryant Gumbel, Katie Couric, and others pondered what it was and what it may become. Today, Al Gore's seminal invention (or Stanford's or UCLA's or MIT's – depending on who you believe really invented the information superhighway) is our main source of information. But, it's far from our main source of truth. Like most good things, the internet has been taken advantage of. Websites are procured by anyone who can afford a URL, and social media has enabled your Aunt Barb to overshare memes promoted by Russian bots. If that wasn't enough in the race to win the public's distrust, misinformation was lapped last week by a poisonous level of stupidity

Higher education has unique issues with public trust, and providing clear and honest messaging is more important, and more difficult, than ever. So many communications offices are doing a great job crafting messages or developing new content in real-time. You are being honest with what information you have when you have it. What's more amazing to me is the level of innovation coming from institutions. I'm sure this feels like a time when your big ideas or most creative initiatives have been shelved. But, we're seeing things we've never seen from the industry. Keep it up. 

Beloit College

Beloit is one of the first we've seen to change their academic calendar. They're breaking up fall semester into two mods. It's a proactive solution in case campus does not open in the fall, and they took the opportunity to infuse their brand language into the communications. 


UCF presented their contingency plans to their Board last week. While the truth hurts, it's better to share it early than hide it and hope for the best. 

April Replication: National Student Survey

In March, we interviewed nearly 1,100 high school seniors & current college students to understand how COVID-19 was affecting their plans for college. In our April replication, we found the data to be even more sobering. Higher ed needs more support than it's received, and hopefully, these findings will be a catalyst to elevating that dialogue —significantly. 

We replicated our March survey of high school seniors and current college students last week and we're ready to share our findings with you. The report will be out this week, and you can join our webinar on Wednesday at 1 ET where our Chairman Elizabeth Johnson will break down the findings. 

What does it mean for a brand to be human?

Our Senior Designer Camilla Dorinsky published this post recently, and I particularly love these two lines:

"I’d rather not think of being “human” as a brand strategy, but something authentic brands simply are."

"Truly human brands, I think, are willing to sometimes look a little messy because they’re committed to the truth and continually striving toward a greater good."

Hear, hear.