Promoting an Academic Program

Ways for Program Chairs and PiCs to Assist the College's Marketing Efforts

I. SEO: Optimize your webpages for organic and paid search traffic 

Assess the content of your program's webpages.

  • Is the information current and correct? Pages should be reviewed at least once a semester for accuracy.
  • Does the program's overview page tell the story of the program? This page should be the “marketing message” of the program, not just a reprint of what is in the Bulletin. 
  • Has the program changed in a way that would not necessarily be reflected in the Bulletin? For example, maybe your internship program has grown over the years to become an important part of the program's effectiveness at helping graduates land a job. 
  • Do your pages tell prospective students why they should choose Penn State Harrisburg? What differentiates us from our competitors?

Now look at the structure of the pages.

  • Are the section headers specific to your program, and do they advance the "message" described above? Headers are a key part of how Google scans and ranks a page. A generic header like "Accreditation and Licensure" followed by a paragraph of text is not as good as "Accredited by ABET" or "Approved by the PDE for teacher preparation."
  • All images should have "Alt Text" (hover on the image to see) but is this information generic, or can it be made more applicable to the program? For instance, "Young woman reading sociology textbook" is better than just "student reading."

Request all changes to content and structure via the Web Project/Update Request Form

II. Testimonials: use the words of current students, program alumni, and/or employers to tell your story

Using a student’s or alum’s own words and picture provides the authenticity that prospective students are seeking. Hearing from an employer of our graduates reinforces the value of a Penn State degree in the workplace. 

  • Testimonials can be used throughout the program's pages as well as in the downloadable brochure. 
  • Most successful strategy: when faculty members from the program directly request a testimonial from a student or alumnus. The form for collecting testimonial text and photos is available at: 
    Faculty should feel free to distribute this link to current students and alumni. 
  • Submissions to this form are sent directly into our task management system. The testimonial is then prepped for the Web and reviewed by Marketing and Communications staff for length, grammar, and clarity. Once the testimonial is ready for publication, we will contact the program for final sign-off before it is added to the website.

III. Social Media: use program- and school-level Social channels to get the word out

Facebook and Twitter can be a great way to push your student and alumni success stories, advertise events and opportunities, or even promote application deadlines.

  • Post your content on the program's or school's channel(s).
  • Post at least 1-2 items per week. More than that is likely too much and less than that will not build sustained interest within your audience.
  • The content should be visually appealing and not text-heavy. Social users tend to skim and scroll versus read things thoroughly.
  • For significant posts (e.g. major news or event promotion), contact Marketing and Communications to see if the post should be shared/retweeted/etc. on the college's channels, to increase the spread of the story or information.
  • See our Social Media Best Practices flyer for more details.