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UWRF expands marketing effort to draw students

September 30, 2010

UW-River Falls has bumped up it’s marketing campaign in the past year. The initial phase has included billboards, print advertising in the Pioneer Press, radio spots on Minnesota Public Radio, e-mail blasts and targeted web ads.

The University launched the marketing campaign in mid-August so that the billboards would be up in time to catch the traffic heading to the Minnesota State Fair. One of the billboards that was recently put up along I-94 says the University’s students do undergraduate research on all seven continents.

Market research that UWRF conducted showed that those who know about UWRF think very highly of the institution, but the University’s name recognition was lower than that of other universities in the region.

“Our goal with the first phase of the marketing campaign is to increase our institution’s name recognition while also communicating our institutional strengths,” said Special Assistant to the Chancellor Blake Fry. “We will be measuring the effectiveness of the campaign over the next two years. Some immediate measures will include the number of applications and web site hits. In the long-term we will repeat our previous market research to determine advances in the both the name-recognition and reputation of the University.”

According to Fry, the key messages of the University’s marketing efforts are what the students, faculty, alumni and partners have identified as UWRF’s institutional strengths: Great teaching, wonderful location, global opportunities, dynamic undergraduate research experiences and a supportive campus community.

“[UWRF] is the best kept secret, we have great programs, access to a big city, and low tuition,” said Marketing Communications Chair Steve Olsen. “We can’t stay a hidden jewel; we need people to be able to recognize us. We want to provide a good reputation and recognition for students looking for jobs once they have graduated from here.”

The University currently has four billboards that will run until January. The artwork will change in November.  The billboard in Hudson near Target that recently promoted the UWRF Master of Business Administration Program, will again have a UWRF message in the near future.

“The billboards represent River Falls very well and show off the great school that River Falls has become throughout the years,” said freshman Rebecca Kramer. “The element art education program is very established and that is the program I was very interested in so it made me want to go to River Falls even more.”

The University’s marketing efforts will extend beyond this year and additional marketing venues are being explored and will be utilized.

“It would be a mistake not to do this; it’s a good investment for the university,” Olsen said. “The billboards get peoples’ curiosity going. It gives out a positive message and shows what we do uniquely. We should have started this campaign a long time ago.”