The Dark Side of Higher Education

Investment banks has fallen, national banks have betrayed our trust, government actions in majority of countries around the world are being frowned upon by the people (examples include the Gaza war, the Wall street bailout which is a bailout for the rich while the main street suffers the burden) and you just don’t know who the heck to trust anymore. Since you can’t put you faith in Uncle Sam or whatever, you put your trust on institutions of higher education, universities, polytechnics and others. You figure that their vaulted names are what is dependable on and they can deliver you wisdom, excellence, success and a great livelihood. The rest of the world, banks, public schools, environment, corporations etc, may be going to hell but you trust that if you try hard enough, and pay enough, you’ll get your money’s worth at universities that promises so much.

As a result of this belief, you incur tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands in student loans or loans from parents (if you have a heart, you will consider it as a loan) since it is too much a sum to pay off on your own. As what is shared with me by a senior member of a university, a student’s school fees is only a very small fraction of the amount that the university needs, with the rest coming from government(also not a very huge sum) and the private sector, foundations, companies and like (a very significant amount).

It’s just economics from here on. Times are bad. Universities are facing more and more competition, since there are many hungry wolves out there scraping for a piece of the slice of higher education industry that has a growth rate that is increasing every year. Since a significant of funds of universities come from the private sector, these institutions will not want to part with their highly paid directors who know how to develop relationships with highly generous alumni. They don’t want to scale down their astronomical building and expansion plans either. They certainly don’t want to lower tuition rates or housing or other fees.

The question now is this: Faced with more competition, more uncertainty about global outlook, more needs of funds (for the development of the infrastructure, the ever growing salary of professors and other stuff) and lesser donations from the private sector (again due to uncertainty and budget tightening), where are they going to “squeeze” the funds from?

The answer: Students. The interests of the students will be sacrificed because they are the least protected and most innocent of the whole academic community. There are numerous articles online that will support this. Sure, Yours Truly think that around 25% of them are too far from the truth, but the sheer amount of complaints, dis-satisfaction and other related articles are just too much to ignore. I don’t believe that all of these allegations are false, how can it be?

Don’t take my words at face value. I only aim to open up your mind. Do your own research online or elsewhere. Talk to people higher up in the education institutions who can be honest with you. You don’t need me to convince you, you need to convince yourself. Find out what is the state of the higher education industry right now, what wrongs are being committed against the very people who relied on them, the students.

Tales Zephyrus Lucrex is one of the 3 writers at Enxie Ferite (enxieferite.net84.net). Enxie Ferite serves as a one-stop entertainment website that consists of interesting articles of myths, humour, good-to-knows, anime and others. It also consists of music videos from English, Chinese and Japanese music.

PR Vs New Media

Many larger corporations, which have bottomless marketing budgets, incorporate massive public and media relations campaigns around new product launches, trends in the industry, and key story ideas. They “work the media,” feeding them a plate full of facts, figures, soundbites, and information in hopes of garnering the holy grail of the public relations world: the above-the-fold, front page story about their company.

Some companies use inside PR teams with directors, managers, coordinators, and interns. Others engage outside PR firms in order to craft the perfect press release, the pitch letter that an editor will drool over, or to wine and dine a group of reporters at the hippest restaurant and bar in SoHo or Chelsea. Working the media takes time and effort. It involves building tailored media lists, distributing press materials, and yes, meeting with the media and even taking them to lunch (a dirty job, but someone’s gotta do it). It’s about nurturing one-on-one relationships that can sometimes take years – and money – to bear fruit.

I know, I know. You have no budget, time, or manpower for a massive PR campaign. I wouldn’t approach this topic if I didn’t have a solution here. The good news is that in today’s New Media world, the art of traditional public and media relations is changing. And it’s changing fast and for the better for small, but successful VARs like you. So I’m offering up a few tips on how to get your PR effort going without taking the traditional route.

Social media is quickly becoming a core element of communications and PR plans, which is great for you – simply because these new media tools are easy to use, don’t demand a lot of manpower, and are economical. How great is that? Blogging, social networks, and podcasts reach more customers and influencers of your product than traditional media might and require almost no out-of-pocket investment. Plus, once you take a little time to get familiar with these channels, it’s so easy to utilize them to your advantage!

According to a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, “When it comes to generating goodwill between a company, its customers, and prospects – the very essence of public relations – it’s a buyer’s market for small businesses.” For instance, one small business cut loose their PR firm which had been receiving a $6,500 monthly retainer, and replaced them with a $700-a-month line item in their budget for website maintenance. Using their up-to-date database, they began sending weekly email blasts to VIP customers and friends – again, at no cost. The results? The small company’s best PR efforts came from communicating directly with their existing customers and friends, who then forwarded those email blasts on to their friends. Special email newsletters included targeted information geared toward hitting those touchpoints that the company knew would grab the attention of its customers. They gave their customers what they wanted through links to the website and easy access to valuable information.

News “flashes” are also easy to incorporate into your PR program and search engines love them. When written thoughtfully, using keywords and phrases, and in paragraph format – one paragraph for content and one paragraph about your business – search engines will pick up on these flashes and reward you with a higher ranking in searches for your business or product. Create a “news” section on your website where these flashes can call home. Search engine crawlers visit sites that are constantly changed and that are dynamic. When crawlers see that you update your “news” section frequently, and you have carefully crafted your news to include your keywords, you quickly find that these pages will receive high rankings.

Of course, landing a feature story about your latest product in a Top 20 national newspaper (e.g., USA Today, Wall Street Journal, New York Times) or being included in a segment on Oprah or The Today Show is worth way more than its weight in gold, but so is going directly to the world – literally – and to the newswire yourself. The Web is allowing smart VARs like you to engage with the public without the mainstream press or the PR flak who court it. With new media resources, like YouTube and Flickr, you can now deliver unedited messages in your own voice and image instead of leaving it to the press to report the story they way they think it should be told. Or you can create short videos or podcasts for your own site for customers and potential leads to download and watch. Here, you can craft your own message and become “the expert” in your field. The same holds true for blogging. Start offering some of your insightful wisdom on new trends. Customers – and search engines – and sometimes even the traditional media will come to view you as the resource in your industry. The trick is to learn to use these tools without sounding too commercial in your pitches or offerings, and then enjoy the benefits of well-crafted viral marketing take hold.

A dedicated marketing professional, Michelle Kabele has been helping technology companies develop award-winning channel partner programs and marketing strategies for over 10 years. Michelle has worked extensively with small businesses throughout North America.

Michelle has an MBA from the J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management (Evanston, Ill.)

The Rise of Video Web Content

Video has notoriously dominated the entertainment industry, and thus the advertising industry for a half century. Recently though, the 300 pound gorillas of the video entertainment industry have taken a beating. So many factors have curbed their power, and now we are looking at an emerging opportunity to gather some of that power to ourselves by using the hypnotic mystery of video ourselves in the online venue.

The internet has certainly brought the middlemen of nearly every sector to their knees. If we look at entertainment brokers as middlemen, could we imagine creating our own content, promoting our own productions, and controlling more of our own traffic and advertising potential? Some innovative web developers have taken us halfway there.

YouTube, Guba, Google Video, Blip TV, and many other providers of free video sharing sites have given all of us the power to publically publish our own video content. The productions are rightfully short due to the issue of bandwidth as well as file storage, but there is also the issue of the truncated attention span of the modern day internet surfer. Even with these episode length curtailments, there are still many respectable serials up on these free sharing sites, and they are quite well done. As a matter of fact, there is something to be said for short, powerful punches of entertainment. In effect, serials made up of short streaming episodes can add up to impressive, award winning quality, production results.

We would like to advocate the concept that a new art form is being organically developed as we speak. There does seem to be a further impediment to the serious pursuit of the art by the masses however. This is not to say that there is no pursuit at all, just that what is being done is not really serious. It might be guessed that a factor in the inhibition to the seriousness of the majority of the efforts we see on these video sharing sites is that there is really no incentive for anyone to create gripping, well thought out, well crafted, and well acted content. What we’re talking about is money. There is no compensatory incentive.

This is not to cynically say that the only legitimate motive for quality from the unwashed masses is cash. We simply have to understand that most people need to spend their time on activities that will put food on the table, not on self expressive, artsy whims of fancy. Some may have the luxury economically to do both, but most of us do not.

There are also technical barriers. While shooting and editing video is an activity that is well within the technical savvy of more and more people, there is admittedly still a predominant portion of our contemporarium that are not yet up to the entire task; not to mention being up to the frustration of posting that finished production up on the internet for all to see.

What we do see however, is that there is a vast sea of tech capable people now in our culture. These people do take time to shoot random, not so well crafted, moderately well edited, video content. There is really a huge volume of it. With this knowledge, there is a certainty that if the art could be made economically viable, people would try to do better at it. If it were possible to make a living, people would flock to the opportunity and give it their best. I think it safe to say that we haven’t seen the best yet.

In conclusion, may we just say that it should be a goal of programmers and strategists to figure out how to make the art of short episodic streaming video a profitable profession for main street Dick and Jane. Let them in on some of the profit potential and some of the advertising / networking power. Some strategist have been working programmatically on that kind of application. I know this, because I am one of them.

Jeff Rogers is the President and Founder of www.dragnetmarketing.com. He is an online networking strategist who believes that relationships are just as important online as they are face to face. In order to have good relationships one has to give something up to get something back. Mr. Rogers has made it his focus to make the give and take more fluent and utilitarian through his strategies. Get online and on the street tactical advantage with Dragnet Marketing strategies and self managed viral Video Pages.