Campus forum reports Rider’s strategic plan efforts

By Theresa Evans

The University Marketing and Communications department held a “Campus Marketing Forum” on March 14 in the Science and Technology Center to inform the Rider community of a recent brand study and future plans for the university. 

The brand study was produced by 160over90, a branding agency based out of Philadelphia, with its results intended to be a part of the university’s Strategic Plan, specifically to help raise Rider’s profile. 

Kristine Brown, associate vice president for university marketing and communications, presented the information at the forum. 

“[160over90] conducted a very comprehensive, qualitative and quantitative marketing research study for us where we interviewed, talked to and surveyed over 3,000 people, primarily faculty, staff, current students, prospective students, prospective parents, alumni and guidance counselors,” said Brown.

According to Brown, the process of the study consisted of three steps. 

 “One, we wanted to find out what people knew and thought about our competitor institutions as well as what people perceived and understood about Rider,” she said. “Then, the third part of the engagement with 160over90 was for them to propose a brand strategy roll-out for the university that we could then determine whether we were going to move forward with or not.”

The brand study generated various results. 

“Some of the great things that Rider is well-known for among our stakeholders is being a very family-friendly institution and a very campus-oriented institution,” Brown said. “We have high familiarity among the people that were surveyed. Some of the things we’re not well known for is being a large institution, which makes sense, not a very diverse organization in relation to what our stakeholders think of us and we have some real great opportunities to position ourselves in a different way, to strengthen what people know and what our value proposition is for incoming students and our alumni and donors.”  

The study was done in effort to help the university understand its reputation, strengthen its brand and compete among other institutions.  

“You can say you know what people think about your institution or about another institution but until you do a real comprehensive study like this and actually have the statistics and the analysis and the quantitative and qualitative remarks and focus groups, it’s hard to say for sure, and that’s why we did this.”

Senior communication studies major Olivia Battinelli had mixed feelings about the study’s result. 

“I am extremely thrilled that the study found that Rider was a small and family-friendly institution,” she said. “I personally have embraced the small family-like environment and have made numerous close connections with peers, faculty and administrators in the four years I have been a student here. It is exactly what I searched for and chose a small school with a close-knit community. Coming from New York, I was also looking for a diverse environment which I also believe I have found at Rider. This is why I am surprised that the study also found that Rider is not a diverse school. I can only speak from my experience but I have met and become close with people at Rider from many different ethnic, socioeconomic and sexual orientation groups. I have always been pleased with the efforts of Rider to foster diversity and communication within our campus community.”

160over90 was one of about 30 agencies and firms being considered to conduct the study and was chosen by a campus-based committee, in which Brown was a member of. 

“They are very well-known in this industry for doing this type of work,” Brown said. “About 50 percent of their clients are in higher education, 50 in more traditional businesses. They are located nearby for convenience and they understand the competitive area we live in.”  

The next phase of Rider’s Strategic Plan includes a redesign of the university’s website, which is now in its early process. 

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