Breaking Barriers, Building Connections
Amid the pandemic, Vionna Fiducia—an international student at Xi’an Jiaotong-Liverpool University in China—found herself stuck off campus in her home in Indonesia. After the 2020 holiday break, she reached out to the university’s communications office about a possible internship. That simple outreach would soon lead to a whole new way of marketing to international students.
In spring 2021, after a successful year as an intern, Fiducia became an intermediary with an Indonesian vendor when a language barrier emerged for International Communications Manager Tammy Kaup and her team.
This experience got Fiducia excited about the potential of a broader communications project with Indonesian vendors—and Fiducia and Kaup went on to launch a student-led brand campaign project.
With Kaup’s approval, Fiducia reached out to two other Indonesian international students, and over the next year, they formed a team of three student interns who researched the Indonesian prospective-student market, negotiated with vendors, and wrote content to achieve a successful brand campaign.
“When the team first formed, we had enough initial experience and the drive and curiosity to learn more about the marketing environment. … These similarities brought us together and we were able to put forward our best for the campaign,” says Fiducia.
The student team focused their efforts in two areas: radio campaigns to reach potential students and online newspaper campaigns to reach their parents.
“It seemed like a cool idea to let the student interns figure out what made sense in their own market because they're just a little bit older than the students that we're recruiting. They knew how to reach those students and their parents,” says Kaup.
The newspaper advertorials spoke to the strength of XJTLU’s East/West blend of education, highlighting programs and majors that are popular with international students, as well as successful Indonesian alumni. The radio advertisements shared the selling points of XJTLU through a scripted conversation between two students. The station also posted to social media, reaching Indonesian high school students who “shared feedback saying, ‘Wow, it’s so great that XJTLU cares about us and is putting out content here in Indonesia.’ That was very positive,” says Kaup.
Her team reviewed all materials and gave the students feedback before anything was published, ensuring the campaign maintained the university’s brand standards. This allowed the interns free reign to be self-driven and play to their strengths, says Kaup.
Student initiative continues to drive the project in its fourth year. This year’s team is adjusting the project’s timeline so communications can most effectively target potential students.
Previously, the 2022 campaign team produced materials that won a bronze Circle of Excellence award. They expanded the campaigns to include English-language materials, adding The Jakarta Post, an online English-language newspaper, as a vendor, and adapting the previously used radio advertisement into an adlibbed, bilingual conversation between radio disc jockeys.
The 2023 team expanded the campaign further by producing two videos for XJTLU’s social media accounts that shared some of the practicalities of living on campus in China. Both videos achieved remarkable success, garnering 12 thousand and over nine thousand views since being released in May.
Fiducia says, “I get kind of emotional when I meet [other XJTLU] students who introduce themselves as a [brand campaign team member] and ask me if I know [about the project]. I say, ‘Yes! I know because I started it!’ I hope that the project can help them gain more experience and friends at both the professional and personal level.”
“The world is every day a more global place,” says Kaup. “And the more we as universities can reach out to people in the way that they want to be reached, in their own languages and through the communication tools that they prefer, the better for everyone.”
About the author(s)
Hannah Ratzer is Editorial Specialist at CASE.
Article appears in:
DIGITAL ONLY ISSUE - How to achieve the "golden record" with master data management. Plus, how to engage pandemic-era graduates, match making alumni mentors and student mentees, and chatting about ChatGPT.