College recruiters and the battle for the American mind

For the last six months, college recruiters have been fighting for a piece of my daughter’s evolving, mostly distracted teenage mind. They desperately want her to apply to college.

I’ve tried my best to make her apply with my constant nagging. She finally looked at three colleges, chose none and the rest are in a cluttered inbox.

Recruiters across the U.S. have been trying hard to lure this young American mind to join the hallowed halls of our shared $1.2 trillion debt trap. The first to approach were recruiters from giant public universities touting the words access, innovation and entrepreneurship. Little did they know that they were trying to reach a teenager whose mind is wired to  Drake’s Hotline Bling.

The public universities offered her a huge platter, like the over-sized menu at Chinese fast food restaurants.  Her options are just unlimited: she can study, dream, experiment, leave, fail fast, innovate, or move to Swaziland through a study abroad course. The best option of all? She can remain undecided.

Next came recruiters from savvy private colleges with cute emails crafted by writers with online degrees in Teen Friendly Subject Lines. Over 2,000 subject lines are now fighting for space on a 4.5 inch glass screen. Some plead, others inspire with motivational quotes. Most have promised her that their faculty to student ratio will help her get to Mars.

Meanwhile, recruiters with sophisticated data teams have mailed glossy over-sized post cards with stereotypical images of smiling, successful Indian kids in white lab coats. Sadly, they don’t understand that some Indian kids are not destined to be engineers or physicians.

On dry Arizona evenings, we got postcards from recruiters in the East Coast inviting her to see fall colors. They gave us a sense of relief from the heat, but failed to understand that this family cannot afford to take a plane ride to see a college in the woods.

The best recruiters were the ones who took care of everything for her.  They waived application fees, told her not to worry about essays, informed her that reference letters were not needed and the greatest consolation was that they didn’t believe in standardized test scores. All they wanted was her application so that they could get our common taxpayer funded mortgage to work.

So, just 15 minutes shy of the stroke of midnight last Sunday, she finally applied to one college. We waited with abated breath outside her room just to make sure that she submitted the application before the midnight deadline. As parents, we felt greater joy than seeing her arrive on this earth.

And, we had one tip for recruiters. Kids are as selective as your colleges are and they know where they want to go.

To market content, be a good news editor

It was 1996, one of the hottest summers in New Delhi’s history. I roamed the streets of India’s famed capital at night while working the day shift at the now defunct Patriot, a training ground for aspiring Indian journalists. Few read thePatriot, but it gave readers what they wanted. The newsroom was filled with talented storytellers who knew what their readers wanted every morning.

Fast forward, 20 years later and with two journalism degrees, I can attest with confidence that a good news editor can transform any business wanting to reach consumers across different platforms. What content (news) does my consumer want? How much content can I strategically place and where? (the news lead) Will my content get converted? (the feedback loop)

Content management is an important part of today’s marketing and sales functions, in enterprises small and big. Content can be king, creating conversations of value and helping marketers close deals. Content can be crap when you push unwanted stuff to get higher search engine rankings. Here is why great news room managers can create content that positively impacts the bottom-line.

  1. Skilled news room editors understand great leads. They will know the exact amount of content that your audience needs to make a purchasing decision. They will evoke curiosity, not boredom among your customers.
  2. Your customers will receive crisp, simple, delightful content.
  3. They can expect a clear beginning, a middle and  a good nudge to to make an easy purchasing decision.
  4. Your business will add empathy to the sales process and you will close by building long-term relationships.
  5. Trained news folks will think in terms of frequently asked questions (FAQ’s). In today’s content marketing, answering your customers’ questions with ease moves the sales process forward.

So, why wait? Hire newsroom editors to manage your content. They will understand the pulse of your customer fast and will know how to add value.

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