And so continue my adventures in Higher Education and I'm back in the vortex!

Many moons ago, back in 2016, all universities were required to add Key Information Sets (KIS) widgets to their course pages. I remember this well, as at the time, it was a lot of work for us and our many courses. The only sweetener was that the horrible red widgets at least matched our brand colours at the time! These comparable sets of data, about full or part time undergraduate courses, were designed to meet the needs of prospective students as a standard way of displaying this information.

So last week, I get an email from Unistats saying that these require their first major update in 3 years. It's like they knew I was now back! Whilst the technology gets more sophisticated policy doesn't change.

The same is true of the accessibility statements I've been writing for our website. In September 2018 (whilst I was out of the game) the UK law changed for all public sector bodies to adhere to the EU directive on web accessibility. Whilst this doesn't officially need doing for older websites until next September I've been trying to get ahead of the curve and get ours published this month.

The government will be monitoring all public sector websites to ensure we have these published and are clear on what works and what doesn't.

Whilst I'm not a fan of unnecessary policy this is definitely a good thing to ensure that our websites and apps work for an audience with a disability. Importantly, it ensures that my upcoming website roadmap will have accessibility as a key deliverable and is taken seriously. It certainly makes a change from the public sector where budget was a bigger consideration than the usability of the site!

So with all this policy, the challenge is making higher education websites, and campaigns, stand out from the rest. My new favourite parody account summed this up perfectly in a recent tweet:
The really exciting thing about my new role though is that we do have a clear differentiator. All of the cute animals! These are a marketers (and social media managers) dream so the pressure is on to really make the most of this great content. In fact, we have so much potential content that I've been surprised how small the institution is compared with how I perceived it before I started.

So, to not get ahead of myself I've been spending a lot of time putting in some strategy to leverage this all properly. Whether it be the plans for the website, CRM, or intranet, these channels must come first as this is where we drive all of our traffic.

This isn't to say that I haven't had a look at tightening up our social media posts tone of voice, imagery and reporting. This is important to put a marker down on where I think we'll be going in the future and I've also wanted to demonstrate to my new colleagues that I am doing and not just planning! I particularly enjoyed getting involved in some animations for our Clearing campaign and ensuring we had some great posts lined up to drive engagement on #InternationalDogDay last month:

It's hard holding back when the temptation is to try to fix everything at once but setting goals, asking questions and understanding if things are worth doing in the first place and the ways I'm really going to make an impact in my new role.
Four an a half years ago I wrote a blog post outlining my top 5 tips for starting a new digital marketing job.

Now I've left the glamorous world of construction marketing and returned to education marketing at The Royal Veterinary College and many of them still stand. That's right, I'm back in Higher Education and what an amazing place to work it is!

In many ways, after my time away from the sector very little has changed. It's as competitive as ever, there are all the same acronyms and there is still the same amount of policy to wade through. Where I've noticed a difference is in the type of institution I'm working for. For a start, clearing isn't a thing here and the students around campus are massively more hard working, eloquent and intelligent than I'll ever be.

Then of course, there's the animals. Lots of them. In my role I'm responsible for helping market the small and exotic animal hospitals as well as student recruitment. This definitely fulfills my ongoing desire to market something which actually makes a difference to people's lives. The work the professors, doctors, nurses and students do is truly world class.

The hardest bit for me has been going from a job where I understand the business, know my stakeholders and have configured all of the systems, to inheriting new ones. In some ways they're better (all CMS systems have their eccentricities) and in others I'm all at sea.

In my first week, and for the first time in a good few years, I picked up a new system and couldn't immediately get to grips how it worked. This was an uncomfortable feeling and I immediately started to feel that maybe this was the point when I'd lost my touch.

I'm not usually one to pay much heed to the many motivational quotes that are shared around the internet but I saw one the other day that made me feel a lot better.

"I'm not lost, I'm just at the beginning of the journey".

I knew there would be lots to learn in a new job and one of the reasons I needed a change was to be challenged again by people I could bounce ideas off and have healthy debates with. As long as I make positive progress each day then that's enough at this stage.

For now, I'm taking the approach that the best way to learn is by doing. Thankfully I have lots of projects I've either picked up from others, or see the need to instigate myself, in order to do this. The fact I've still got lots of drive and fresh ideas shows I'm not washed up just yet!

The other danger is that I set an early precedent for bad habits like not going for walks or leaving my desk to eat at lunch. The big problem with office work can be that thinking doesn't look like working to others. I've proved this to myself already but cracking a technical problem in my head during a lunchtime walk and having my most productive afternoon's work for ages after enjoying a particularly delicious lunch of beef tacos in the campus restaurant.

So with all this in mind I'm going to make a few promises to myself:
  1. Blog more regularly (writing this has been quite therapeutic!)
  2. Be thankful that I'm being paid to learn
  3. Appreciate my surroundings and the great work of the company I now belong to
  4. Don't spread myself too thinly in an attempt to immediately try and impress everyone
  5. Eat more tacos
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