Holiday greeting lessons from Truman State University

Truman StateDon’t we all love receiving those politically correct holiday well wishes with no personalized message from brands we hardly ever interacted with? Note sarcasm.

Of course, holiday greetings, done right, are an important way in which we can connect with different stakeholder groups. Truman State University, a public liberal arts and sciences university located in Missouri, took this to a whole new level with its holiday greeting a few weeks ago. Without students to interact with who were away for the holidays, president Troy Paino stars in a 2:30 YouTube clip in which he stays occupied by measuring the basketball hoops and wheeling a tricycle around the office, among other activities. Take a look at the video for yourself.

Upon first reaction, my thought was that there could be some mixed communications messages in this video. There are many times throughout the year in which students are on break, and as those of us who work in higher education know, the show still goes on. In fact, there are times when student vacation periods feel busier than when classes are in session. It also could come off as just too strange to see a president of a university being filmed in this way.

But on second thought and closer examination, there is no doubt this video was a success and that there are lessons to be learned. The success comes from the results – over 54,000 YouTube views and several media mentions. I am going out on a limb and saying that no other holiday greeting video or interactive card generated this amount of visibility. When was the last time a university holiday greeting message made the news?

The comments and news coverage are overwhelmingly positive. One can quickly notice how alumni and current students connect with this video and are proud to have a president who is creative and open. It provides a glimpse into a culture of the school. It is fresh, fun and out of the box – not necessarily words we associate with university presidents. While this certainly wouldn’t work for every school, for Truman State it seemed like it touches on one of their values embodied by its president.

There are several content marketing lessons that can be gleaned from this example:

1. It avoids corporate jargon.

2. Based on the comments, it is content that is useful for the target audience – students and alumni.

3. The content is fun and entertaining.

Perhaps this is a source of inspiration for the next time you need to create a corporate message that goes out to multiple audiences.