More often than not content on a website – especially in higher ed – is rather dull and uninspiring. The closest we get to creating emotion is through news posts, stories about students, alumni, faculty and staff. We can do better. The meat & potatoes of a university website is where we introduce a prospect to our schools, our programs, and administration. Rather than present content like a brochure, why not tell a story? Our story.
Our mission as higher education marketers and communicators is to engage our audience and share all the great things we offer. We as a whole do a rather poor job of this. Historically we tend to not only write boring copy but we also make it rather difficult for our customers to find what they need or want. Our universities are home to many vignettes everyday. We are defined by those vignettes because together they tell our story – much like chapters in a novel.
Stories are the original information delivery tool. Stories are easier to remember than information and data. Content that relates information & data is consumed and processed by what scientists refer to as Broca’s area and Wernicke’s area. “Overall, it hits our language processing parts in the brain, where we decode words into meaning. And that’s it, nothing else happens.
When we are being told a story, things change dramatically. Not only are the language processing parts in our brain activated, but any other area in our brain that we would use when experiencing the events of the story are too.” [1. Widrich, Leo, The Science of Storytelling: Why Telling a Story is the Most Powerful Way to Activate Our Brains (2016). Lifehacker.com. Retrieved 26 June 2016, from http://lifehacker.com/5965703/the-science-of-storytelling-why-telling-a-story-is-the-most-powerful-way-to-activate-our-brains] [2. Murphy Paul, Annie. , The Neuroscience of Your Brain on Fiction (2012). Nytimes.com. Retrieved 26 June 2016, from http://www.nytimes.com/2012/03/18/opinion/sunday/the-neuroscience-of-your-brain-on-fiction.html]
We want our prospects to see themselves here – on our campus and in our classrooms – and stories are the best way to achieve this because “we see ourselves in stories.” 8 “Many stories have morals. Our stories require purpose.” [3. Cohen, Georgiana , Once Upon a Semester: Storytelling as a Framework for Higher Ed Web Marketing (2016). Slideshare.net. Retrieved 26 June 2016, from http://www.slideshare.net/radiofreegeorgy/once-upon-a-semester-storytelling-as-a-framework-for-higher-ed-web-marketing] A well crafted story will resonate with the prospect and create an emotional response that causes them to imagine themselves here and to take the steps necessary to fulfill that vision.