Correction: In a previous version of this article Elon News Network misstated that the event was a fireside chat when it was a town hall, hosted by Elon's Student Government Association. Elon News Network regrets this error.
During Elon University’s Student Government Association’s town hall in the Moseley Student Center on Feb. 9, Mike Haskins, vice president of university communications, discussed Elon’s brand with students and how it impacts the school.
Haskins said Elon’s brand is its story. Haskins said one of the reasons building a brand is crucial is because it helps build its reputation, making more students interested in attending the university. Haskins said Elon’s brand is important, as it increases students’ future career opportunities by increasing its name recognition.
“What I want to have happen is that if you go out there for your first job, your second job, your fifth job, when that employer sees Elon University on your resume, they go, ‘Oh, I know Elon. This is somebody I should really be talking to,’” Haskins said.
Haskins said in his personal experience, Elon has name recognition across the east coast; however, in other regions he has found less people know the university. Haskins also said this matches the geographic demographics of where students are from. Haskins said he wants to grow Elon’s name recognition and increase its geographic diversity through growing Elon’s brand.
“That to me was a microcosm of opportunity,” Haskins said. “We have to bring really exceptional students and attention to Elon, but we just don’t have that name recognition that some other universities do.”
The work of Elon’s communication department is driven by the goals of the current strategic plan, Boldly Elon. Part of their work has involved conducting research and surveys, as well as holding discussions with different on-campus groups for their feedback and ideas. From there, they hope to translate this feedback into Elon’s brand. Haskins said they are working on building a long-term marketing strategy that will help build awareness in areas of the United States where Elon has less name recognition.
Students also shared input on how successful they feel Elon’s branding has been for them. SGA Senator Madeline Mitchener said before coming to Elon, she had a hard time finding many of Elon’s opportunities, and thought many students would have been considered Elon if they were more visible. Mitchener said the only reason she was able to attend Elon was because of the scholarships she was able to receive.
“I have so many peers that were in the same boat as me that ended up going to a community college somewhere else because these programs weren’t well advertised,” Mitchener said. “I had to dig to find the Odyssey application.”
Some students said they feel the relationships between students and teachers are unique. Students shared that they get coffee with their professors on a weekly basis, building friendships with their teachers that they find other universities do not have. Senator Hannah Hanson said she saw Elon banners advertising the student to teacher ratio and said this was a good example of how branding helped showcase something that made Elon stand out.
Haskins said one of the communications department’s priorities is helping prospective and current students hear about programs available to them. Haskins said to do this, they focus on storytelling through mediums such as Elon’s social media accounts and Today at Elon.
“It’s all about telling our story and letting people know who we are, and motivating them to want to connect with us in whatever way that makes sense for them,” Haskins said.