Approaching Students and Student Groups | Marketing Practices
Communicating with and recruiting students or students groups should be undertaken with conscientiousness.
This is especially true when approaching student groups serving marginalized populations. While we believe no employee intentionally harms any student, bias can find expression implicitly and unconsciously. Pacific University is committed to non-discrimination, and so the below best practices aim to minimize any possibility of harm.
NOTE | However, the below should not be considered a formula for pacifying students’ concerns. Rather it is intended to introduce, and ultimately attest to, student concerns. As such, this section will not include communication templates.
DOs & DON’Ts | if nothing else, follow these guidelines
- DO encourage a variety of students to participate.
- DO seek to represent a variety of students in all areas of marketing.
- DON’T oblige students to act.
Student groups serving marginalized populations is any organization primarily serving Pacific students who identify with groups historically excluded from social opportunities. Students who identify with marginalized populations are at risk of discrimination and belong to groups that have been historically discriminated against. This is true within the United States and at Pacific University
Because employees are figures of authority, care must be taken so that communications are not coercive. Coercion is obliging another to act, often by compulsion. For example, telling a student “You are required to appear in an advertisement.”
CONNECTION | For additional discussion on coercion and other topics of concerns, see the appendix Multimedia Concerns.
Observe the following guidelines.
- Present choices as choices.
Clarify that your requests are optional. (“This is your choice. You are not obligated to participate.”) Emphasize student power. (“We can meet at a time convenient for you.”)
- Clearly define each choice.
Do not disguise the options you present. For example, the option may not be “Tell us about your dorm room in a video,” but actually “Appear in an advertisement promoting residence halls to potential students.”
- Express all choices.
Do not omit options, even if they may seem obvious.
- Make students aware of their rights.
Emphasize that students are not required to participate. Use media release forms. Link to student rights documents or language.
- Be aware that you know more about university processes than students.
Coercion is often not intentional but happens through forgetfulness. You may not mention that alternative options exist because you assume students are aware. Therefore, too much explanation is better than too little.
- Be aware that you are a figure of authority.
Students may feel obliged to do something simply because an employee asks. This does not mean stop asking but rather be aware of such pressures.
Commitment to Diversity
It is important to seek diversity in marketing materials because it represents the community we want Pacific to be — but it is important to have the right intentions too. Aim to represent diverse populations because it empowers those groups and those students. Do not incorporate students with disabilities into your photos just because it looks good or checks a box. Instead ask yourself, “How is this photo advancing these students’ interests?”
Manufacturing diversity is inauthentic to the university’s mission, to students’ experiences and to the target audience.
CONNECTION | For further discussion, see Intentional Inclusion.
Directly recruiting students can be coercive and result in inauthentic representation. To avoid these issues, make use of passive recruitment tools, like posters, and emphasize student choice in your outreach. The Multimedia Volunteer Outreach best practices will cover this topic in more depth.