Digital Communications in Higher Education

In this episode of The Brief, I had the opportunity to sit and chat with Nichole McGill,  a seasoned digital communications expert and gets her take on digital, personalization, and future opportunities in Higher Ed. In a varied career that includes having set the Web vision for the University of Ottawa and many Canadian government departments, McGill is an accomplished speaker, presenter and lecturer and is the author of a young adult novel, Girl #3.

“Communication has completely changed due to the web…there is now an expectation of personalization that you have to meet.” – Nichole McGill


Personalization is a hot topic in digital communications, with an ever-evolving arsenal of tools, channels, and best practices for delivering customized messages to different audiences and individuals. It’s often associated with improving the customer experience in an e-commerce environment, but is equally applicable to higher education where institutions are competing for students as well as alumni dollars.

From McGill’s perspective, personalization is ultimately about engaging in conversations with the audience – and using analytics to shape those conversations in keeping with their demands.

“First you need the willingness to listen to the stats, to analyze them, and also to be willing to shift the path…in order to be successful.” – Nichole McGill

Staying connected with alumni presents its own unique challenges for institutions, with former students now predominantly using social networks to keep in touch with each other. Alumni organizations that served as a hub for alumni conversation and interaction are now having to shift their thinking to continue providing value through conversations on other platforms.

Also on the radar for communicators in the education space is the evolution of digital books. Despite predictions that digital books were poised to replace print, traditional books are still going strong and e-books have not yet lived up to their potential for personalization and interactivity. As McGill notes, a new generation of learners who consume stories differently will likely be the catalyst for e-books to evolve into something more.

Communicators today are well aware that keeping up with technology is a full time job. But as much as the tools, channels, and data we use to shape and deliver messages to our audience are always changing, listening remains the key to successful communications.

Nichole and I continued to speak for after the shoot. We discussed the digital space in Higher Ed, the need for better digital dashboards and analytics with an emphasis on the Digital Transformation that the book space is going through. Lots of great topics to be covered for the next time she is on the show! Check out the links below for more information on digital is transforming Higher Ed and don’t forget to check out Nichole’s About Me Page for more information on what she’s up to next!


Links for your enjoyment:

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