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  Home > Events > Past Events > Finders Keepers: Trends in Communicating, from Prospect to Alum


Finders Keepers: Trends in Communicating, from Prospect to Alum

March 13, 2007

Breeze Archives

Current Research on Millenials / Trends in Communicating with Millenials / They've Graduated - Now What?


Nancy Robinson, Iconoculture


  • Millenial generation: Ages 0-28 in 2007
  • Pressed for time, money, and direction
  • Rationalize indulgence
  • 1st generation to accept debt: Teens are entering college w/ credit card debt
  • Unrealistic ideas for post-graduation life: the good life
  • Respect: inherent, not earned
  • Like challenges but w/o disruption to personal life

What is Important to Millenials

  • Experience (gap year can happen at anytime)
  • Conscience - consumption is cause-connected
  • Purpose
  • Got a life: Friends, family, and fun come first
  • Connectivity: Their attention is their choice (it's not the channel, it's the content)

Hover Me - Helicopter Parents

  • Parents are advocates, personal assistants, life coaches
  • Tribe of individuals
  • Consumption: quality, not quantity
  • Privacy not a big issue
  • Rave Wireless: connects students to campus

Control Freak: consumers control environs, property, time, safety & well being.
Control, prevention, responsibility, Safety, Security (inner, not external)

What's Working

  • Coaching firms
  • Parent bouncers
  • Basic life skills courses (cooking, money management)

Come as you are

  • Casual - means honest, authentic, approachable & comfortable
  • Glass wall, not glass ceiling: must be able to find info at any time & quickly


  • Second Life: virtual playground, work summits
  • Generation CEO: Entrepeneurial
  • They'll work hard, but on their own terms

Free Agent - Millenials expect flexibility, balance, individuality, practicality, trust

What's Working

  • Less restrictive dress code
  • Fast, casual restaurants
  • Googleplex

Book Smart / Money Foolish

  • Play now, pay later
  • Rising cost of basics forces consumers into the red
  • Budgets: coffee, furniture


  • Free e-books, comes w/ a catch
  • Grad School - $45,000 in debt; $100,000 med school

Dollars and Sense: savvy, reward, practicality security, success

What's Working

  • Peer-to-peer money mgmt programs
  • MasterCard are you credit wise?
  • Tuition-free colleges

Lush Living

  • Raised in bigger houses w/ smaller families: expect more from their environments
  • Twice the growth in home ownership
  • Dorm Room Decorators
  • Comfort, entitlement, reward, savvy, style

What's Working

  • Ikea
  • Upscale on-campus living
  • Rental Decorating Digest


  • Me is We: carry everyone else's expectations & beliefs (parents are part of decision-making)
  • Be true to your school: Colleges and universities are brands.  Wal-Mart or American Apparel?
  • Cautiously Independent
  • Entitled Consumers


  • Make it easy to find: MySpace is aging - 30-something.  Facebook is better
  • Make it easy to trust.  Touch points is invaluable; snailmail is unique.  Keep it personal and consistent.  Keep parents in the loop.
  • Make it easy to decide - Make 'Acceptance" a big deal: send them a subscription to student paper, give them a compilation from college radio... etc
  • Make it easy to fund: Transparency is key
  • Make it easy to live: good housing? Hour cars?  WiFi?
  • Make it easy to learn: mentors, internships, Time mgmt & financial counseling, etc

Key Take Away

  • Connected to parents.
  • Connected to values: authenticity, integrity, honesty, respect.
  • Surrounded by choices.


Kelsey Quiring, Assistant Director, Office of Admissions, 612-626-1259

Admissions Web site Redesign

  • Web = Broadest communication
  • Varied audience, mostly millenials
  • Personalization: Not all the same - geographic, age, ethnicity, etc.

Developing Strategic Project Plan

  1. What is competition?
  2. Why are we doing this?
  3. Who is audience? freshmen, transfer, international, parents, counselors
  4. Basic message?
  5. Overall tone?  Vibrant, warm, collegiate, Big 10, community, part of something great
  6. Call to action?  Apply, Visit Campus
  7. Visual goals? Bold, vibrant, no white space, Logical organization
  8. Why now?
  9. Why will students care?
  10. How will we measure success?

To stay competitive, need to constantly evolve look, messages & fits demands of audience.  Message is more important than cutting edge technology.  Consumer-driven mindset.  Streamlined and clear.

User-friendliness is key - Web map is not as important as the search box.

Differentiate features and benefits: communicate as benefits.

Consumer-demand: instant info, technology is taken for granted, use web for 18 hrs/ week.

Redesign feedback: content more noticeable.

Interactive Features

  • Student blogging
  • Constituent Relationship Mgmt tool (CRM) - submit questions, documents, etc. 24 hours a day
  • - click on "Ask Us"


  • Harris Interactive: newsletter "Trends and 'Tudes" - research on millenials
  • Bob Johnson, Creative Consulting: blog and free newsletter

Assessment: Jerilyn Veldof -


  • Undergrads
  • Facuthy
  • Key Players
  • Libraries staff
  • (should've done parents)

Feedback Results:


  • "I'm overwhelmed" - don't even know where to begin
  • Make it easy to find
  • We need one giant library in the middle w/ personal tour guides
  • Show that libraries are not obsolete


  • Ability to think critically
  • Libraries are central, not prelipheral
  • How to manage info


  • Faculty is best way to communicate library info


Major Problems

  • time management
  • awareness of campus resources is lacking - too many choices
  • finding community is difficult
  • Personal touch / Connection


  • Awareness
  • Independent Access
  • Community Space
  • Curriculum Connection

Arriving at Solution - Problem statements:
who what why questions
IWWMW technique - what do we want to do? A) "so that..."  Redefine: "in what ways might we...?"

Undergrad Virtual Library Web site

  • paradigm of exclusion over inclusion
  • Selective information: Search box central
  • Start point, not end point

Important features

  • High quality info
  • Librarian service
  • Intellectually stimulating environment


Chad Cono, Alumni Association

Why Alumni Matter

  • Advocacy
  • Attendance
  • Volunteers
  • Financial

Alumni Relations - a Complex Web
Alumni interact w/ many different units
Foundations vs Alumni Associations (commonly confused) - smaller, private colleges are 2-in-1; larger are 2 separate units: Fundraising & Alumni

UMAA founded in 1944
Central office in Alumni Center w/ staff in collegiate units as well


  • Chapters and Contact Areas (MN, country, and world)
  • Societies and Affiliates
  • Interest Groups (ex - 4-H)

University Pride & Spirit Activities
Athletics Activities
Maroon and Gold Fridays
Mentor Connection
Etiquette and Image Dinner
Senior Send off
Distinguished Teaching Awards


  • Benefits for U: Advocacy, collegiate support, alumni & faculty recognition, student assistance, annual celebration
  • Benefits for Members: MN Mag, Online center, Activities, Discounts


  • 10,000 responded to survey: 55% Male, 45% female
  • 70% undergrad
  • 50-59 largest age group
  • Most alumni live in MN, 60% in metro area
  • 56% members satisfied with academic experience
  • Connection/Identification: 28% University; 17% College
  • Strong preference for electronic, on-demand info (poss skewed by electronic delivery of survey)
  • Membership motivation is more about loyalty than benefits
  • Primary reason for not joining are: geographical distance and does not fit interests

Erica Giorgi, CLA

Department Level Communications

  • Department magazines (profile faculty, alumni & students, show impacts of giving)
  • Web sites - individualized w/ common visual and content elements (e.g., giving page)
  • Tele-fundraising - personalized scripting for departments

College Level Communications

  • semi-annual magazine: "Reach" feature faculty, alumni, encourage giving
  • E-newsletter - "Alma Matters" engage people in events and volunteer ops
  • Public affairs radio - "Access Minnesota" U wide, showcase faculty
  • Direct Mail - Annual giving

Mary Bucceti, CFANS

  • 14 depts, 100 majors
  • Identify with St. Paul campus and college rather than U
  • DCAR: Department Council for Alumni Relations

Communications tools

  • Print publications
  • E-newsletters
  • College wide newsletter
  • Alumni focused newsletter


  • Golf event
  • Mentor Program

Communication topics
Gardening, pets, climatology, health & nutrition, etc.

Focus groups to study what graduate alumni want, need, expect



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