Georgetown University markets to hundreds of thousands of consumers through advertisements placed by Georgetown’s schools in both online and print media outlets, but of the nine schools that comprise the university, only four use these traditional advertising techniques to reach students and build brand recognition, with no schools targeting undergraduate students.
The divisions of the university that market through advertisements to find both students and faculty members are the School of Continuing Studies, the McDonough School of Business, the School of Nursing and Health Studies and the Law Center, according to MSB Chief Marketing Officer Chris Kormis.
Kormis said that the university’s marketing practices are aimed at strengthening Georgetown’s visibility and appealing to new faculty, and consequently to prospective students as well.
“All of our efforts are to raise the visibility of the school, but in doing so to attract new students, the best and brightest kids that Georgetown attracts,” Kormis said. “It’s to attract new faculty, to raise our visibility among junior or senior faculty who might be considering taking a job at Georgetown to teach here,” Kormis said.
Many of the students enrolled in the Global Executive MBA program run by the MSB in coordination with ESADE Business School in Barcelona heard about the program because of the school’s advertising in The Economist, according to Kormis.
“We always place an ad, I’d say at least twice a month, in The Economist for the Georgetown ESADE Global Executive MBA,” he said. “Every student for that program is interviewed, and they’re asked, ‘how did you hear about Georgetown?’ So many of them say The Economist ad,” Kormis said.
Kormis attributed the 23 percent increase in applications for the MBA program to advertising and noted a spike in applications each time the school updates its advertising campaign.
The NHS has also heavily marketed its online Master of Science in Nursing program, Georgetown’s first-ever online degree-granting program, which debuted in March 2011. Since the program began, it has attracted 1,000 students in 46 states, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to NHS Director of Communications Bill Cessato.
“Our efforts to get the word out about the program are reflected here in the extraordinary growth of this innovative program that our faculty has worked hard to develop,” Cessato wrote in an email to The Hoya.
Although advertisements for the NHS and MSB have been featured in The Washington Post, The Economist, Bloomberg Businessweek and the Financial Times, the schools primarily use expensive online advertisements that allow for easy tracking of analytics and use algorithms to advertise only to those who would have an interest in higher education.
1.2 million people viewed the MSB’s advertisements on the Bloomberg Businessweek website and over 605,000 people viewed the school’s advertisements on the Financial Times business education pages last year, with search algorithms targeting specific users to view the ad.
“I would say we’ve been consistently promoting our programs since I’ve been here. But as it gets to be a more refined business, we’re getting smarter about how we do it,” Kormis, who started working at Georgetown in January 2009, said.
Similarly, 22 percent of students in the School of Continuing Studies’ master’s programs first heard about the program through Google, according to SCS Chief Strategy and Communications Officer Roseanna Stanton, which she correlated to people visiting the site after seeing advertisements for the SCS. Unlike the other schools that advertise, the SCS focuses most of its marketing locally with advertisements at Metro stations.
Though the school invests heavily in advertising, the plurality of students say they hear about the SCS through word of mouth.
“Word-of-mouth and SCS success stories are still the number one way that people say that they hear about us (29 percent), so while marketing is necessary and effective, our best advertisements are happy alumni who spread the word because their Georgetown degree helped them to achieve their personal and professional goals,” Stanton wrote in an email.
Despite its prominence among graduate programs, the undergraduate schools within the university still choose not to advertise, simply because they do not need to, Georgetown’s Dean of Undergraduate Admissions Charles Deacon said.
“I think that the brand recognition [of Georgetown] is very high,” Deacon said. “Literally almost half of the students who apply to us, we actually don’t know who they are until they apply. They go to the website, they do all their information research on their own. Students tend to come to you if they know your brand,” Deacon said.
The Office of Undergraduate Admissions does not engage in any traditional advertising, although they do market themselves to prospective high-achieving students on the PSAT by sending them an informational letter about Georgetown.
Kormis noted even the MSB does not advertise to undergraduate students because its selective admissions rate, at 16 percent in 2014, ranks lowest of the university’s four undergraduate schools. The other undergraduate schools, along with Georgetown’s peer institutions, choose not to market for similar reasons.
“You probably don’t find very many of the better-known schools advertising. You’re not going to get a radio slot from Harvard saying, ‘Think of Harvard,’” Deacon said.
For the programs that choose to market, however, the administrators explained advertising as essential to attracting a strong and diverse student body at the graduate schools.
“The more interest we can attract to Georgetown McDonough, the more people who apply, and that really enables us to put together the best class,” Kormis said. “And that’s the point of the advertising: to put together the best class for Georgetown,” Kormis said.