It's been quite a varied week since my last blog posting and I've welcomed some changes to the usual routine. The first of these was the opportunity to get more involved in the curriculum here at Bedfordshire. This is always something I've been interested in and my previous role at a South London academy gave me lots of opportunity to make my way into the classroom or to attend residential trips.

This time I was contacted by one of our lecturers to help with a project currently being undertaken by our MSc Business Web Analytics and Management students. They have been asked to come up with a full marketing plan to promote their degree and this is where I came in! It was really great to get a chance to go along and talk to them about what we already do and how we decide which courses to push and through which channels. I particularly enjoyed going back to basics and reminding myself why I chose to work in this sector. It's always great to see that the majority of our academics are extremely conscientious and good at getting the best out of their students - sometimes that's easy to forget in the haze of emails and last minute requests. I'm definitely looking forward to seeing what the students come up with following our chat...

Following on from that, we've had our last bit of training with our friends at Azorus in Canada and I met with our partnerships office regarding a complete revamp of their web presence. As a University it's also been announced that we've been awarded the Queen's Anniversary Prize for our research which is the highest form of national recognition open to higher and further education institutions in the UK. Throw into the mix some challenging emails from one member of staff and the great buzz that our graduation ceremonies bring to social media and it's all been pretty hectic!

(L to R Graeme Stenhouse, Lauren Hague,
Me and Laurie Taylor)
The real crowning achievement this week though (from my point of view), was our WIN for Best Website at the first ever Prospects Postgraduate Awards. As previously mentioned, this was our fifth awards ceremony this year and to go out on such a high was truly amazing!

In a change of pace we made our way up to Manchester in the morning for a 12.15pm start (stopping at the Christmas market to build up an appetite on the way). We were accompanied (as usual) by Sarah from the Marketing team as they were nominated for best prospectus in a very competitive field (where they unfortunately just missed out). We then took our seats at the Radisson Blu hotel in a room full of other universities for an introduction from compère Laurie Taylor. We felt we had a pretty good chance as we were sat next to the staff from Prospects themselves (surely they wouldn't want to sit next to the losers?!)

We were so happy to win, and the trophy itself is a great example of glass design which we're now looking for somewhere to display. Bring on next year and hopefully some more ceremonies - these have been massively enjoyable and I couldn't have done it without such a dedicated and supportive team. It has been tiring at times (those award entries don't write themselves!) but it's all been worth it to get some much needed internal and external recognition (and some very delicious three course meals!)
Here we go again... Yet another blog post on a night out at an awards ceremony! Last Friday night we attended our fourth one of the year so far - the Thames and Chiltern CIPR PRide Awards. These awards celebrate work done in the public sector and this was the second one of these we were due to attend after the CIPR Local Public Services Awards back in February. This time we were shortlisted for Best use of Digital (for our corporate film) and Best use of Social Media (for our Clearing campaign).

Having a full table meant we could
make quite a noise when our categories
were announced!
After some time off studying, and a few days of respite to digest my new knowledge, I whizzed into Luton to meet the team in the office. It was definitely quite amusing finding them sat at their desks wearing their finery before the taxi took us to the (conveniently local) Sopwell House in St. Albans where the ceremony was due to take place! Our group for the evening were Elisabeth and Lauren from my team, Sarah from the Marketing team and Andy, our Market Research Manager. We also had some very special guests as we were joined by Spectrecom who did an amazing job of working with us on our corporate film. Finally, the evening would not have been complete without a blast from the past in the form of Hannah! She has now moved on to a promotion elsewhere but seeing as our two nominations were predominantly her work (and she wrote the awards entries!) it wouldn't have been right to exclude her...

After being the first to arrive (I guess we had the easiest journey) we sat down for a very nice three course meal (we're getting used to these now) and the awards proper. Our first nomination came around pretty quickly and we were delighted to win another silver for Best use of Digital. This was actually our fifth silver in the last few years showing a definite pattern!

Us receiving our gold award on the
stage. Black was definitely the outfit
colour choice of the evening...
However, the curse was soon to be broken when it was announced that we were awarded GOLD for Best use of Social Media! Finally, a new start! Needless to say were were extremely happy and I could hardly hide my excitement by bouncing up and down in my chair.

To top off a brilliant evening the Marketing team also won gold in their category for Best External Publication followed by another surprise award for Best use of Research, Planning, Measurement and Evaluation. Wow! A clean sweep - I'm guessing we weren't that popular with the rest of the room. Andy was particularly pleased to have won a much deserved award for his research especially as he has teased us in the past for our insatiable appetite to be externally recognised at these ceremonies! This is to be the penultimate awards ceremony of the year with our fifth and final one taking place on 19th November where we are nominated for Best Website at the Graduate Prospects awards. Let's hope we go out in style...!
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