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             In Our Own Words:
                      Maintaining an Effective
                     Student Blogger Program
                                      Session # E507
                 Daniel Creasy, Associate Director of Admissions
                             Johns Hopkins University
                                  Baltimore, MD

                                 Additional Presenters
                       Johns Hopkins University Undergraduates:
                        Lauren Carney            Josh Gleason
                         Jessica Kraus            Mandy Stein

                                                    Why we are here!

•   Daniel Creasy, Associate Director, Johns Hopkins University (a.k.a. AdmissionsDaniel)

•   Lauren Carney, Johns Hopkins Class of 2011, Writing Seminars Major (a.k.a. JHU_Lauren)
•   Josh Gleason, Johns Hopkins Class of 2011, Film & Media Studies Major (a.k.a. JHU_Josh)
•   Jessica Kraus, Johns Hopkins Class of 2011, Public Health Studies Major (a.k.a. JHU_Jessica)
•   Mandy Stein, Johns Hopkins Class of 2011, Public Health Studies Major (a.k.a. JHU_Mandy)

                                                  Session Highlights

Topics to be discussed:
•   History of Hopkins Interactive and the Student Admissions Advisory Board

•   Selecting Your Blogging Team

•   The Role of the Staff Administrator (Setting Expectations)

•   From the Student Perspective:
           • Group Dynamics
           • Types of Blogs to Consider
           • Choosing What to Write About
           • Issues of Transparency and Censorship

•   What’s Next for Hopkins Interactive (Expanding into a social media group)


                                                               A Bit of History:
                                                               The Beginning

How did Hopkins Interactive & the Student Admissions Advisory Board Come To Be?

•   August 2003: Hired by Johns Hopkins to specialize in e-recruitment initiatives

•   Fall 2004: Begin meeting with Freshman Advisory Board to discuss a blogging project

•   Why We Chose To Create a Blogging Program?
            •   A new way to communicate with Millenials (the way they are communicating)
            •   Dispel and debunk myths
            •   Transparency (“Pull Back the Curtain”)
            •   Build stronger, personal connections with prospects, admits, and enrolling students
            •   Provide a counseling aspect to prospective students and parents

•   December 2005: version 1.0 of Hopkins Interactive is launched:
         • Features an Admissions Blog, 8 student blogs, and a message board.

                                                          Hopkins Interactive,
                                                             version 1.0

                                                               A Bit of History:
                                                                The Upgrade

How did Hopkins Interactive & the Student Admissions Advisory Board Come To Be? PART TWO

•   It Worked! Why?
            •   The students and the personal touch
            •   Willing boss and commitment from the Admissions Office
            •   Not what people expected from Hopkins – fun, relaxed attitude
            •   Authenticity – limited control and candid approach
            •   Diverse points-of-view

•   November 2006: version 2.0 of Hopkins Interactive is launched:
    - 6 distinct areas of content:
             • 22 student profiles,
             • 12 student blogs & 4 university blogs
             • message boards
             • virtual visit section
             • fun & games section
             • online chats

•   December 2008: version 3.0 of Hopkins Interactive is launched:
            •   Expanded on version 2.0 by adding online video section, Facebook groups, Twitter accounts


                                                           Hopkins Interactive,
                                                              version 3.0

                                                       Hopkins Insider Blog

                                                                 A Bit of History:
                                                                   Present Day

How did Hopkins Interactive & the Student Admissions Advisory Board Come To Be?

•   As of September 2009, Hopkins Interactive features:

           •   20 student profiles with feature to ask questions directly of each student

           •   6 university blogs, including an Admissions blog and blog written by Associate Dean

           •   8 current student blogs (& 15 archived student blogs) – over 1500 blog posts to date

           •   Message board with over 300 active topics and over 5000 responses

           •   YouTube page hosting over 30 videos, including popular Hopkins CRIBS series

           •   3 active Facebook Groups, and a soon-to-be launched Facebook fan page

           •   5 active Twitter accounts: 3 students, 1 admissions counselor, 1 joint account


                                                             The Reason for our
                                                              Success = SAAB

What is the Student Admissions Advisory Board (SAAB)?

    An Admissions volunteer student group of
    approximately 20 students – freshmen through
    seniors – that directs and operates Hopkins
    Interactive, a major web recruitment project
    through the Office of Undergraduate Admissions.

    The students meet weekly with a staff advisor from the
    Admissions Office, to discuss and implement new
    recruiting initiatives. Beyond the web projects, SAAB
    students have created an Insider’s Guide publication
    and represent the student body at all Open Houses.

    Members of SAAB contribute the content to these projects and essentially become the student face/voice
    of Johns Hopkins to prospective students, applicants, and admitted students.

                                                                    The Selection

How to select an effective blogging team?
•   Set your goals in advance; knowing why you are blogging will help with selection
•   Decide in advance on the number of bloggers you will need
           •   Address any institutional issues about the make-up of your blogging board
•   Focus on the freshmen, but make sure you have upperclassmen as well
•   Establish an interview committee of trustworthy and discerning current bloggers
•   Determine the proper length and questions for your application
•   Follow-up with interviews for all who apply
•   Determine in advance the criteria you will use in selecting your bloggers
     –   Creativity
     –   Commitment
     –   Diversity
     –   Interpersonal Skills
     –   Ability to Discuss the Institution

                                                                  The Role of the

What roles should the university administrator play?
•   Determine if the group administrator(s) should be from:
           a) Admissions, b) Marketing, c) IT, or d) all three
•   Establish your cardinal rules
           (i.e. “all extensions granted,” “always keep me in the loop”)
•   Create a statement of expectations and confidentiality that all must sign
•   Master your communication style; how to effectively use frequent emails
•   Act as the liaison on issues of Admissions, Marketing, and Technology
•   Answer the all-important question: to pay or not to pay
•   Establish projects for the group…but make sure it remains a student group
•   Be flexible and accommodating


                                                             And Now… The
                                                               Good Stuff

                          TIME TO HEAR
                           FROM THE

                                                             Group Dynamics

Some suggestions on how best to organize your student group:
•   Meet as a full group on a weekly basis

•   Establish a group dynamic by holding social events

•   Provide leadership and mentorship roles for all members

•   Make sure all members feel equal, from seniors through the new freshmen

•   Work on projects in smaller teams

•   Consider “office hours” to help keep all members on task

                                                             Types of Blogs

There are many types of blogs to choose from. What will work for you?
•   Admissions Blog

•   Current Student Blogs (Weekly or Shared)

•   Guest Blog

•   Other Types of Guest Blogs:
           -   Alumni Blogs       - Faculty Blogs             - Dean of Academic Affairs Blog
           -   Parent Blogs       - University Staff Blogs

•   Mascot Blogs

•   Academic Blogs


                                                       Selecting Blog Content

Some recommendations regarding the content of blogs:
•   How to choose what to write about

•   Types of blog entries to consider (introspective, retrospective, advice, day in the life)

•   Brainstorm topics with fellow bloggers (consider posting common blog entries)

•   Think about adding multimedia (video, photos)

•   An infrequently updated blog is the worst kind of blog


How to approach the transparency / censorship issue:
•   Freedom to post whenever and whatever leads to more credibility

•   Choose topics wisely

•   Must remember the audience (prospective students)

•   Approaching difficult topics

•   Handling censorship issues

•   Role of the administrator in terms of censorship

                                                                 What’s Next

Where are we going from here:
•   Hopkins Interactive version 4.0 (tentative December 2009 launch)

•   Focus of re-design will be to use new technologies to make the site more interactive

•   Improved marketing efforts that synchronize our site with main Admissions site

•   SAAB has transitioned from a blogging group to a social media group

•   Despite the new upgrades, blogging will always be our central focus


                                                  Questions ???

What else can we tell you?:
•   Our Motto is … “ASK US ANYTHING!”

•   Email us if you have questions:
           • /

            Be sure to check out Hopkins Interactive!

                             Thank you for visiting our session!


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