Play Up Pompey

As someone who was bought up in Southampton that's a pretty hard blog title to write!

For a change I thought I'd write a post about the work we do to support other teams in the department. As part of MARC (Marketing, Admissions, Recruitment and Communications) there is a lot of cross over in what we do in attracting and helping students. My team's role has overlaps with all of the above functions whether it be assisting them with their web presence, answering questions on social media, monitoring brand mentions or attending recruitment fairs...

The two day Hampshire recruitment fair
All staff in the MARC department are required to attend at least one UCAS convention a year as it's a great chance to get out of the office and to shadow our Recruitment team. When choosing which fair I should attend I decided to go back to where it all began and head back down south to the University of Portsmouth (where I studied many moons ago!)

So Michelle (from the Marketing team) and I set off on a Wednesday night armed with boxes of pens and enquiry forms for the three hour journey to Old Portsmouth. It was definitely a help that the area had not changed at all since I was last there (or the university) and we found our hotel with no trouble at all knowing that we'd need a restful night!
After a hearty breakfast we then set off to the student union and I enjoyed giving Michelle a tour of my old haunts (not sure she did!) We were stand number ten (being 'B' in the alphabet is a definite positive for our positioning) and our haulage company had already delivered our stands for us to build along with our prospectuses and freebies. What I found interesting was how old fashioned these fairs were, with most universities just having a branded table cloth and a pile of prospectuses. I decided to setup my laptop with our corporate film playing which did draw a lot of attention throughout the day. Then the hordes of prospective students descended...!

Roll up, roll up! Between us we managed
to get over 100 enquiries a day
It was definitely a busy few days with coach loads of students from local colleges walking the floors. Some were great with a real idea of what they wanted to study and where and we absolutely smashed our target of completed enquiry forms.  We also were one of the only stands to be giving out freebies (light bulb stress balls and tote bags) and I took sympathy on some people carrying arm fulls of prospectuses and just gave them a bag anyway.

Day two was actually busier and were both pretty tired from an epic pool tournament at the hotel the night before (no comment on who won). Again, I found it interesting to see how we had a bigger focus on collecting data than some other universities and also which of our subjects were most popular among our enquirers. We also had to tell a number of people where Bedfordshire is - I'm guessing that's not such a problem for more local fairs!

HMS Warrior (1860)
We finished at 3pm on the second day which left a bit of time for sightseeing at the historic dockyard and a decent meal at Gunwharf Quays. I also managed to find some HMS Victory rock to bring back to the team from one of the gift shops (ever the tourist...)

There's no doubt that these fairs are very important in raising awareness of our university and for gathering leads. My main feeling was that there is also a lot of scope to try and improve the interactive nature of the stands like at similar trade shows. I'm sure that with the sector becoming increasingly competitive this is something we're likely to see in the future.

For my next post I'll be returning to familiar territory as we film our second cinema advert on Wednesday. We've got a slightly different style for this one so watch this space for a full production diary!
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