Friday, February 23, 2007

Tufts on NPR: A triumph of Fax 1.0?

On NPR on the way to work this morning, this story:

So, Tufts has implemented a new idea: What if instead of writing an essay, students were asked to draw a picture? Or write a short story, about, say, "The Disappearing Professor" or "The End of MTV"?

School officials are now hoping that better questions might result in better answers — and better clues about who students really are.

"Our argument is that the problem has not been lack of creativity in students but lack of creativity in the college admissions process," says Robert Sternberg, dean of arts and sciences at Tufts.

Now, I think this is a great idea for applications.

But more than that, this is a great story. NPR essentially just ran a five minute ad for Tufts, saying Tufts cares about how unique you are as an applicant; other schools, not so much.

What's the worth of a story like this, in terms of marketing? How many parents drinking their coffee or stuck in traffic heard this story and thought, you know, my son/daughter should apply there, that sounds more like their sort of place?

Answer: a lot. So that's point one: TradMed still rules the roost.

The second interesting thing to me is this story looks to me like it was offered initially last summer on a standard press release or verbal pitch: both the Boston Globe and Inside HigherEd covered it on the same day, which would be atypical of more PR 2.0 approaches. So that's either a triumph for Fax 1.0 or a triumph for being Tufts.

Probably a bit of both.

So point two: PR 2.0 does not replace the verbal pitch and press release.

Easy lessons. Probably self-obvious. But it's Friday and the week has been long...

If I get a chance I might try to track down the provenance of this story further. I'm particularly interested in whether it's appearance in the summer edition of the Tufts Alumni Magazine resulted in any coverage -- but I'd have to find a mail date for that.

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