Marketing and Partnership Development Unit Expands Reach

Wolf statue on central campus.

From conducting market research to managing the creation of marketing materials for Online and Distance Education programs, the Marketing and Partnership Development (MPD) unit works with all units of DELTA, as well as external partners to support DELTA’s strategic plan.

“Every year we have a list of programs that we support ranging from 10-20 programs, each receiving a different level of marketing and student recruitment support,” said MPD Program Manager Katie Bean.

To determine these programs and their support level, Associate Vice Provost of MPD Kay Zimmerman works with Online and Distance Education to create full strategic plans based on data showing which programs need and want marketing initiatives.

According to Zimmerman, one of Bean’s responsibilities is to manage each step of the process, keeping it organized and managed effectively as well as managing the budget. She also ensures that not only the goals of each initiative are met but also any initiatives are driven by one of DELTA’s strategic plan goals.

The initiatives are focused on student recruitment and include pay-per-click campaigns on targeted websites, online digital advertisements, social media, feasibility studies, competitive and market demand analyses and many more marketing support services. For programs in the beginning stages, MPD’s support may include building a website and creating print materials for promotional use.

MPD added Social Media Specialist Kristin Stepneski in August 2016 as well as completely revised the online-distance.ncsu.edu website. Not only did she create four social channels for Online and Distance Education, Stepneski maintains a news blog on the website, cross posts targeted stories on DELTA’s website and maintains contact with the Alumni Association to repurpose success stories. Check us out and follow us on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Instagram.

“Staying focused on the goal in mind, the end is to reach those prospective qualified students who are searching for the online programs that will meet their needs. Part of that strategy is social media — it is a critical and important part,” said Zimmerman.

Zimmerman added that the need for a voice and presence in the social media world allowed MPD to get a position dedicated to reaching new student audiences. Since Stepneski is employed by both DELTA and University Communications, she supports not only Online and Distance Education as a whole but also Online and Distance Education programs. Stepneski is in constant communication with program coordinators, faculty, students and alumni to share their stories.

In addition to adding social media, MPD is in the process of developing four new strategic partnerships that will support student recruitment and align with DELTA’s goals. These partnerships will be announced when finalized in September.

“We in student recruitment and marketing have always stayed ahead of the curve for best practices and strategies for student recruitment,” said Zimmerman. Many years ago, NC State became a leader in online and digital marketing. “We identified where students were searching for their educational opportunities and we moved forward in it,” Zimmerman added.

“One of our responsibilities is to not only meet the requirements for each year’s goals but also to keep our eyes ahead for what is the new and proven strategic opportunity,” said Zimmerman. Identifying the elements that could be changing such as a change in student recruitment and marketing or a change in an opportunity to identify a new program is an important aspect of MPD’s role.

While MPD is composed of only three people, its impact stretches across all units of DELTA.

“We are successful when our colleagues — could be an Online and Distance Education program coordinator, could be the New Media Development group, any of our colleagues, internal or external — when they are successful then we are successful,” said Zimmerman.