Optimizing Expertise in the Higher Education Sector: Southern Utah University

· 5 min. read

Higher education institutions are amongst the wealthiest knowledge-based organizations when it comes to expert resources. While many of these organizations acknowledge the value of their in-house experts, they often struggle to harness their expertise and communicate their strengths to external audiences. But when higher education institutions do take steps to market their expertise, the payoff is exponential.

Here’s how Southern Utah University (SUU) leveraged expertise marketing to celebrate their staff, grow their digital presence and drive close to a 10x increase in media inquiries.

Embracing Expertise

SUU has been acknowledged as a leading university in the U.S. Most recently, the U.S. News and World Report’s 2019 Best Colleges list ranked SUU as one of the top Regional Universities in the West and the highest-ranked public school in all of Utah. Southern Utah University President, Scott L. Wyatt, attributes these accolades to the people within his organization:

“Our faculty and staff have dedicated themselves to creating the best educational experience at Southern Utah University,” said Wyatt. “This recognition acknowledges their success and the wonderful learning community they have created!”

In fact, SUU is so proud of their people that their initial motivation for expertise marketing was to show their experts exactly how much they were valued. SUU’s faculty and staff bring a wealth of expertise in their professional disciplines, but they’re also deeply immersed in the university’s culture and surrounding environment – including the region’s breathtaking national parks. With this in mind, SUU set out to celebrate their experts’ professional and personal achievements through expertise marketing.

Optimizing Expert Content

While SUU had expert content on their website, they didn’t have a great process for structuring, organizing and publishing. “We had an Expert Directory, but it just didn’t have background structure we needed to nimbly change profiles and deliver up-to-date content,” said Kenzie Lundberg, Internal Communications Specialist at SUU.

ExpertFile’s Platform gave SUU the tools they needed to manage their content, but they still needed a bit of help optimizing their expertise marketing program. They reached out to our customer success team to see how they could better leverage the ExpertFile tool and implement best practices for expertise marketing.

After auditing their digital presence, we identified three main areas for SUU to focus on:

  1. Showcasing Faculty with Relevant Stories: While SUU had some expert content on their website, it wasn’t structured in a user-friendly way. ExpertFile suggested that Spotlight posts would help them make their content more accessible and encourage audiences to get in touch with their organization. Unlike a standard blog post, ExpertFile’s Spotlights enable users to connect with experts or media relation teams directly from the post while simultaneously distributing the post to the Associated Press, Dejero and ExpertFile Search. By using Spotlights in multiple areas of their website, SUU would be able to drastically improve their visibility and gain better traction with media outlets.
  2. Highlighting Specialized Areas of Expertise within SUU: SUU used the ExpertFile Platform to organize and attribute areas of expertise in their expert profiles, but our audit revealed that the topics needed to be more specific to garner audience engagement. ExpertFile recommended that SUU add areas of niche expertise to their expert profiles. For example, a biology professor might list topics like “Invertebrate Evolution” or “Cardiovascular Physiology” in addition to the term “biology.” This optimization would make it easier for audiences like journalists and media outlets to find experts on specific topics.
  3. Expanding SUU’s Digital Footprint: One of the key advantages of the ExpertFile Platform is how easy it is for organizations to improve their digital presence. For example, the ExpertFile Design Lab allows marketers to quickly create, publish and manage Expert Directories and Spotlights across various pages on their website (click links for examples). To help SUU better utilize this feature, we suggested linking to their Expert Directory and Spotlights directly from the homepage. This would make it easier for audiences to find their expert content and increase opportunities for engagement. 

SUU’s Results

SUU took the ExpertFile Customer Success team’s advice and their results reflected just how valuable expertise can be to the bottom line. From Q1 in 2018 to Q1 in 2019, SUU went from 3,030 views and 12 media inquiries to 11,949 views and 115 media inquiries. And their success didn’t end there. SUU’s latest analysis of their expertise marketing program revealed some truly impressive results:

  • CALmatters Feature: David Berri, professor of economics, was requested for an interview on equal pay in sports in September 2018. From the interview and stories that followed, SUU received the equivalent of $112,500 in publicity value and 25.3 million unique views.
  • The State Journal Feature: Michael Mower, executive director of SUU Aviation, was asked to be featured in a story highlighting SUU’s partnership with Marshall University in March 2019. The story was published on The State Journal’s website and had the potential to be seen by 800,000 unique visitors.
  • Qualtric’s X4 Conference: Ravi Roy, assistant professor of political science, was asked to join the ranks of the visionaries and leaders behind the world’s most iconic organizations and present at the 2019 X4 conference. Other presenters included President Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey, and Sir Richard Branson. Over 15,000 people attended the conference.
“I really enjoy using the ExpertFile Platform,” said Lundberg. “It’s great that I’ve been able to learn about our experts’ backgrounds – we have some really fascinating people. It’s so unique to be able to see all of their talents and to be able to highlight that for them.”
Kenzie Lundberg – Internal Communications Specialist SUU

The team at ExpertFile is thrilled that SUU has seen so much success from the optimization of their expertise marketing program. We can’t wait to see what the future holds for their organization and their experts.

Download the Complete Guide to Expertise Marketing

For a comprehensive look at how expertise marketing benefits the entire organization and drives measurable return on investment, follow the link below to download a copy of ExpertFile’s Complete Guide to Expertise Marketing: The Next Wave in Digital Strategy or download one of our tailored Guides for Corporate & Professional ServicesHigher Education InstitutionsHealthcare Institutions or Association & Not-for-Profits.

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Deanne Taenzer

Vice President

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