Cornell University

Tips for Communications and Marketing Campaign Success


Plan Ahead

The time to start thinking about an announcement isn’t when you’re ready to make it. Rather, your planning should begin once you know you have something to promote. The bigger the project, the more lead time will be required. Contacting us early in the process will help us better serve you.

Know Your Audience

Who do you want to reach? Students? Faculty and staff? Alumni? Local community members? All of the above? Different audiences can require different strategies with different tactics and different messages. Target only those groups likely to be interested in what you are promoting, and prioritize based on the extent of that interest and the size of the target. This enables you to direct your effort where it will do the most good.

Have a Realistic Budget

A full-blown marketing campaign may require a financial commitment on your part, especially if printing and mailing or electronic media production are involved. Keep your investment level in line with what you want to achieve, and make sure you have access to the financial and staff resources you need to get the job done. You stand a greater chance of succeeding when you can afford to do what needs to be done and you have the staff resources to manage a project and keep it on track.

Think Visually

Your message is more than well-chosen and well-organized words. Powerful visuals, both still and moving, can dramatically enhance your story. Think about what can be done through photographs, videos, illustrations, charts and graphics to highlight or explain what words alone cannot do. High-quality images that tell a story and connect emotionally as well as intellectually can often have greater impact.

Keep Moving the Ball Forward

A marketing and communications campaign is a journey marked by many steps where progress can get waylaid. To avoid this, make sure the people developing the campaign have access to the content and other resources they need to do their jobs. When questions arise, respond quickly to them. Keep the approval cycle simple; engage a broader group as needed to give input along the way, but try to limit the approval committee to just a few key people. Remember, mutual success is based on effective partnership and trust.

Set Achievable Goals

Everyone wants to have a story that makes the front page of The New York Times, but we recommend you think more in terms of measurable business objectives, e.g., achieving record attendance for an event or wider recognition for one’s expertise. Achieving goals like these is more important than creating short-lived buzz.

Relate to the Bigger Picture

People are interested first and foremost in what is going on in their lives. The more your announcement relates to a larger issue that people can identify with, the more likely it will be of interest. If you want someone’s attention, offer solutions, show how things work or explain how developments will impact their future.


*Adapted from The City College of New York website

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