Prospective students and their parents are critical audiences for Ohio State, yet they often lack deep knowledge of the rich academic experience available at the institution. Compelling content is one way to bolster their knowledge and drive choice.

Project: Develop an integrated plan that leverages multiple media and dissemination platforms to amplify the ways Ohio State students make distinct discoveries through the institution’s connected environments.
Goal: Increase awareness of Ohio State’s academic profile.
Key partner: Strategic Enrollment, College of Engineering, College of Arts and Sciences, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, The Ohio State University Comprehensive Cancer Center – Arthur G. James Cancer Hospital and Richard J. Solove Research Institute, College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences, College of Social Work.
Primary audience:  Prospective students and their parents.
Secondary audience: Internal, alumni, donors.
Outcome: An integrated content and dissemination strategy that delivers key pieces of information through compelling storytelling.

Discovery and Planning for audience relevance

Ohio State’s prospective student audience falls into Generation Z, a group that holds distinct differences from its predecessors -- Millennials and Generation X. Understanding Gen Z’s key attributes was essential to creating compelling content that built awareness of Ohio State and helped build college choice preference.

Generation Z attributes

Selecting our student heroes: The students featured in these stories shared common attributes. Each was motivated by a desire to affect positive change in the world. Each was able to leverage Ohio State’s multidisciplinary strength to create something that was new and distinct. Each benefitted from a connected academic community that presented the necessary resources and opportunities. These students are emblematic of the best Gen Z has to offer – resourceful difference makers who take the initiative to make their world a better place.

Building awareness through compelling content

Generation Z preferences shaped all aspects of the project, from student selection, to story arc development, to the digital experience and to the creation of easily sharable stories that resonate with prospective students their parents. Story assets were developed with an integrated dissemination strategy in mind, and each asset presented opportunities for increased awareness and deeper engagement with the content.

Hero landing page:

Each student was the subject of an expanded content landing page that provided a closer look at the connected environments that fostered their success. Each page section is anchored to provide direct links for targeted dissemination. These section topics were selected because of the way they would appeal to a student who is considering Ohio State for college – they reflect the distinct range of connected opportunities offered to our students. Page sections include:


  • The hero story:
    This content section provides an overarching framework that tells the student subject’s story but also introduces Ohio State attributes that are expounded on in subsequent sections. The content in this section includes both text and video components to give you a complete look at the student and their Ohio State experience. The video establishes the student’s life passion and illustrates how Ohio State was the perfect place to convert that ideal to purpose – this approach reinforces the world-changing mindset that many Gen Z students aspire to. The text component provides a more detailed exploration of the student’s experience at Ohio State, and how their education created a deliberate path to success.

  • Faculty connector:
    It is common for prospective students to correlate the size of a university with access to faculty – i.e., the larger the university the less access to faculty. Yet, each of the students featured in this project encountered a faculty member at Ohio State who played a critical role in connecting them to knowledge and resources that hastened their success. This faculty story is presented in a video format where the faculty member discusses their work facilitating student success and the specific ways the environment at Ohio State allows for fluid-thinking students to connect with important ideas.

  • Academic programs:
    Academic environment is one of the most important attributes for the parent of a prospective student. This page element builds awareness of Ohio State’s academic prowess by highlighting three aspects of the Ohio State academic experience that provided key inspiration for each featured student.

  • Partnerships:
    Ohio State is engaged with important business and community partners who provide resources that create opportunities for students. The featured students all drew a benefit from these partnerships, and they provided a critical boost toward an impactful outcome. This element is also important for parents, who weigh career preparation as an important aspect of their decision-making process. Many of Ohio State’s partnerships provide real-world work experience that is invaluable as a part of career prep.

  • X+Y:
    The students featured in these stories all leveraged Ohio State’s strength to combine two different interests into one remarkable outcome. Ohio State has many of these stories to tell, and this text-based section of the page highlights another student who connected disciplines to convert their passion to purpose at Ohio State.

30-second video:

Created for social media and broadcast channels designed to touch on attributes of an Ohio State educational experience that would be appealing to a prospective student audience. Honing a story to 30 seconds makes it tighter and more relevant to the intended audiences.


45-60 second video:

An expanded version of the student story that provides more detail on the featured student and encourages viewers to visit a landing page with additional storytelling. Dissemination for the longer commercial includes YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.

Aggregated landing page: Each of the three students featured in Ohio State’s national television commercials are featured on one landing page at osu.edu/stories. This collection of stories illustrates the fact that many students at the university have experiences that enable them to marry their interests in unexpected ways.

Dissemination strategy

The PSA experience/ecosystem is designed to amplify the distinctiveness of Ohio State student achievement in an easily sharable way that resonates with the Generation Z audience. To achieve this, we created a content ecosystem designed to connect with our audiences in the right places at the right times.

Ecosystem approach: To distribute important messages to all key audiences, we developed and integrated dissemination strategy that leveraged all of our platforms and ensured timely delivery of the content.


The assets that were created as part of this project will be leveraged into 2018.

University Marketing will continue to share the content on multiple platforms, measuring success for optimization along the way. The content can also be used as part of central recruiting efforts, since it is tailored to a prospective student audience.

There are other opportunities to repurpose the content for secondary audiences (alumni, donors, friends) as a way finding more ways that these inspiring stories can connect with more audiences.


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