Joseph Master, Ologie’s Executive Director of Client Strategy, talks to Joel and J.S. about the joys of external validation, creating horizontals that cut across the verticals, and what happens when you glance over the fence at new opportunities.
Joel Goodman: From Bravery Media. This is Thought Feeder. Welcome. My name is Joel Goodman. With me, as always, is the unmistakable Jon-Stephen Stansel. And we are very excited to have the Executive Director of Client Strategy from Ologie. Do you want me to call you Joe or Joseph?
Joseph Master: You can call me Joe,
Joel Goodman: What do you want the public to call you?
Joseph Master: You can call me Joe. My family calls me Joey, the byline is Joseph.
Joel Goodman: There we go. Uh, Joe, Joe, Joseph in air quotes, Master. Joe, welcome to the show. We’re really excited to have you on.
Joseph Master: Thank you so much for having me. It’s, uh, I I’ve been a big fan of this for a long time and I’m glad to be.
Jon-Stephen Stansel: Yeah, I was so excited to have you be here. Yeah. We’ve talked so much on, on Twitter and it’s nice to like actually in person sort of chat, but for those that don’t know you, Joe, can you please introduce yourself? Tell us about what you do, your, your history in higher ed and where you are now.
Joseph Master: Sure. Sure. Um, so I, I, I’m currently Executive Director of Client Strategy at Ologie, which is it’s a, is a pretty new role that straddles, uh, like account management and business development. So I’m currently really, really in the weeds learning. Uh, that’s. Whole part of the business, because before this position, I spent 12 years in higher ed, let me see if I can get this right.
Over 12 years, I reported to five deans. At three colleges at two universities in Philadelphia, one large public, one large private, and then most recently for, or nearly five years was the, uh, AVP of marketing and digital strategy at Drexel university. Um, and that was, you know, a great role where I got to, uh, run fronted, web development and social media governance and strategy, and all paid media and relationships with our external vendors.
And, um, the Ambition Can’t Wait reputational elevation campaign. Um, so it was a great time and it kind of paved the way for the role that I’m in now.
Jon-Stephen Stansel: That, that brings up a question we already had. So, okay. Tell us a little bit about that Ambition Can’t Wait campaign. Um, because that was something that was, that was really impressive and like, to hear more about.
Joseph Master: Ambition Can’t Wait was actually, you know, the, the product I believe of a desire by Drexel to get the word out about co-op it’s cooperative education program. Now, Drexel students are not, you know, they go to school year round, they do an average of three co-ops these six month paid positions. And when they graduate, they, um, you know, end up knowing not just what they wanna do with the career, but also what they don’t wanna do, cause they usually figure that out in school it’s in, it’s insanely rewarding for the students.
The outcomes are there, but for a market. To have that unique selling point is gold and Drexel really does have that. So it started, I think 2015 when I was at temple, I think the Genesis and, um, Ogilvy big Manhattan for like, they, they developed the original concepts for Ambition Can’t Wait. Um, They were these very beautiful, large, uh, cost prohibitive images of people with ambition floating out of their bodies.
Um, and there, it was like there was an arts and media ambition with trouble and base class. There was a health sciences ambition and there weren’t many words. Um, when I came back to Drexel in 2017, the campaign had launched 2016, you know, in the role that I came back to do, I was in charge of executing the campaign and, you know, a buddy of mine who was my counterpart in an admissions marketing, his name’s Craig campus there.
We had stayed in touch when I was at Temple, cause I had been at Drexel, went to temple and came back for that central role. And we just started talking, let’s take this in house and let’s evolve it. So we were on two different teams, enrollment management, and then central marketing. And we kind of put together the skunk works and we pitched it internally and we pitched it to trustees and, you know, wow.
What in insanely rewarding experience? It was when they actually said, yeah, do this. So, you know, we had to come up with like a fake org chart because our teams were not on the same team and, you know, a meeting cadence and creative services and project management. And then. So, uh, it’s been in market since 2016, evolved in 2017 and, uh, it’s still going and, you know, I’m, so I’m, I’m actually looking for the ads, cause I’m not there anymore every day.
I’m like, Ooh, I can’t wait cause this is the time of year when it would launch, you know, the campaign was meant to mirror the enrollment cycle. So launches in September. And then, and really does mimic, you know, goes hard till may one till decision day. So it’s not an enrollment campaign, it’s an awareness campaign.
And you know, that was a question we had to answer nonstop by everyone, both in the industry externally and internally.
Jon-Stephen Stansel: Yeah, it’s a really impressive campaign. It’s one of my favorites in higher ed and anybody who’s listening, it’s not familiar. Google it take a look. Um, I love the stuff that y’all put on social for it. Um, it was just absolutely gorgeous. I think I used it as an example for some stuff that we wanted to do when, uh, when I was still working at a university.
So yeah, kudos to that. It was some incredible work.
Joseph Master: You know, something too Jas. Uh, we were. So tickled when we found that out. Um, and every time people brought it up and asked questions about it, cause people called a lot to ask the biggest validation that we got or that I got, I can’t speak for anyone else was always externally. It was always when people like you guys said, wow, I really, I really dig this.
Jon-Stephen Stansel: We said before we started recording that we were not going to talk about like music and guitar stuff, but like, to, to what you said, just then it’s like, When I used to play in bands, you’d always play to. the three guys with like their arms crossed sitting in the back that were other musicians. Like they’re the ones that know, like, if you slip up, they’re the ones that like, can tell, like, if your band is really tight and playing well together versus just the average listener.
And it’s like, oh, this is a band live band. Great. And those guys, when they come up to you after the show, I’m like, man, good job. Like that’s when you know, like, okay. Yeah, that, that was good. So it’s like game
Joel Goodman: just see that little smile on their face, in the
Jon-Stephen Stansel: Yeah, they, they’re not gonna come up to you and tell you great. They’ll be like, yeah, y’all, y’all, y’all had a tight set tonight and be like, oh, you’re over the moon.
Joseph Master: You’re so good at these. And now it’s a hundred percent true. I remember I was at the Starland ballroom, probably in 2005 back when Kings of Leon still looked like, you know, The Band, like the Woodstock, The Band with the beards before they went kind of Euro glam rock. And, uh, I remember being in the front and, and just like, kind of.
I kept like making eye contact with the bass player. I didn’t mean to, but after the show we were hanging out and he went right up to me. He’s like, what’d you think, man? And I was like, you guys rocked! And he’s like, dude, I, I messed up the whole time. It was horrible. And I, I felt so cool that he recognized that I was a musician.
He knew it. Cause I was, you know, I was staring at his fingers, looking at where he’s.
Jon-Stephen Stansel: But it goes to like the opposite of that is this. So. That like you get this external validation and then, you know, from, from people from outside the industry, like, oh, we love that. And then you go back internally and you’re like having to fight for every single thing and be like, come on. Don’t you see, this is great.
Joseph Master: And that is a thing. I don’t know if that’s a higher ed thing. That’s just a thing that’s everywhere.
Joel Goodman: Well, and I mean, there’s, there’s that thing where in inside higher ed, you know, it’s the, the. People that you can tell are musicians, uh, you know, you’ll go up and ask them like how you did, but like internally, everyone thinks they know how to do your job, but they don’t. And they just kind of like show themselves in that light when they can’t appreciate the, the good work that’s actually coming out of your office.
Joseph Master: Totally. I mean, to me, the, the thing that I’m most proud of about Ambition Can’t Wait, is something that most people wouldn’t say. Um, it’s actually the professional development opportunities. It made for so many people on this cross departmental team from, from web developers who were working on that micro site to, to change it up at like all year long.
We were always trying to optimize that site and make it stickier, make people wanna read the stories to, you know, an SEO analyst on the team. I’m thinking of shout out nig. um, you know, to, to writers designers and, you know, to work on an, on a campaign with that kind of national reach, you could look at performance metrics, we can have the goals and, and if you get more money, you can get more metrics.
You know what I mean? But people, people don’t often think or talk about the professional development part of working on something like.
Joel Goodman: So Joe, you had mentioned a few minutes ago, uh, this need to kind of put together a, a, a fake org chart, combining a couple of different, uh, departments and, and, uh, you know, and structures together. And, uh, we’ve all worked in campuses with weird, um, that have tried to be cross functional, but maybe haven’t quite succeeded or at least haven’t succeeded to the effect that we want to.
And, uh, we’re wondering if, uh, you could talk a little bit about your experiences there and, uh, the benefits that you see in putting those things together. As an encouragement to our, our friends at institutions that are trying to make this happen,
Joseph Master: Joel, I knew this question was coming, but I’m gonna reframe your question so that we can talk about this. Let’s just talk about organizational structure in general. Let’s talk about the fact I’ll put it out there. I was on a team that was a separate team from enrollment marketing. That was also a separate team from online marketing now. Um, I don’t know if those teams will be separate forever. They will, at some point be merge into one team. But how was it that even up to 2015, 16 going into 2022 at a, at a large university, and this is not a Drexel thing. This is across the country. Our structures are still built. Like they were 15, 20 years ago.
And why is it that people need to use words like skunk works. To describe how they put together the ideal org to, to quote Leonard Cohen, to find the cracks where the light gets.
Joel Goodman: I mean it’s, it’s true. And I think it applies to this wider conversation going on in our industry right now. Around people, uh, leaving their, their college and university jobs, people finding work outside of higher ed it’s. Uh, and we, we talked a little bit about this with Steve App, but it’s, it’s these archaic structures that exist within our institutions that aren’t getting rethought and aren’t getting reassessed for, you know, the way that you all worked constantly throughout the year to optimize the Ambition Can’t Wait microsite and, and ad buys and everything else like. Why aren’t institutions looking at their structures and trying to figure out, okay, do we need this? And I think the time when people leave is kind of the perfect time to reassess, do we need that role? Is there a way to kind of, you know, rearrange things inside to make it work better?
Joseph Master: I have a lot of thoughts. Organizational structure and organizational dynamics. Like I, if you were to ask some people who have reported to me in the past 10 years, they say, Joe loves a good reorg I’ve reorganized teams. So many times I, I built binders to hand to my senior vice president. That’s got new job descriptions where it’s like, this is what we need to do.
And, you know, I, I think I’ve benefited from being able to over the years, report to some pretty great leaders who. Who were willing to trust me in that regard, but, but I want to go back to professional development. I don’t, you know, when I started in higher ed, before I even started at Dr. So I was Drexel’s first social media hire.
I was the first wave of social media managers, higher ed JS. We’re gonna have some fun, hopefully talking about that, but I got asked, do you wanna go to this conference? Eight days after you start. And I went to CUPRAP, which is the, um, uh, college and university public relations and associated professionals.
I’m now on the board. I have not missed the conference since that was transformational for me. I was in higher ed for eight days. Um, I’m not sure if I’ve had the capability as a leader in higher ed to offer that same, paying it forward at the onset as part of the onboarding for my staff. And it’s something that, you know, I’ve really struggled with over the years.
And I think that a lot of people listening in this be like, yeah, I feel the same way.
Jon-Stephen Stansel: Oh, oh, for sure. We could talk about this all day. Like half of the reason why. I. Tweeted started tweeting as much as I do is because I wanted to find ways to have professional development, to reach out to other people and talk to other people. My, I couldn’t go to the conferences so I could get on the Twitter back channel of a conference and learn that way, like so hungry to learn more and have professional development when that those dollar signs weren’t there and like also putting myself out there.
So I. You know, get presentations accepted and then get a discount and actually be able to go to the conference. Uh, for those of us, especially working in digital fields that are changing daily, daily, like we need to have that professional development be part of our jobs and we need, we need the money for it.
It’s just, it’s gotta happen.
Joseph Master: Professor development is so important to me and I, I think that higher Ed’s done me, right. Temple paid for me to go to leadership training for a year where they pick some leaders across the university. I think there’s a cost associated. And one Friday, a month, you’re learning about NASA, how they do things about conflict avoidance.
And then we did a, a review. I grouped up with people who were all smarter than me and reviewed the RCM budget model of our university and presented it to Deloitte toosh. I learned so much from that. During the pandemic. I found myself seeking out professional development from Joel and, and JS and, and people like you who are on Twitter.
Um, and the internet elsewhere. I, I found myself finding that community amongst people who are all over the nation, kind of struggling with the same thing. And I feel like at the same time people started having the bravery, ah, bravery to, um, to actually put it out. And I, I wrestled with this, had I not been at that point in my career where I was comfortable enough to ask those questions publicly, would I have gotten not just the commiseration, but the support.
So, so let’s be honest, J.S., my DMS, if I go back over the years, you and I confided in each other about some very, very real things. If I hadn’t have been at a point in my career where I felt comfortable messaging you. Cause I think I’m the one I think I probably reached out first. You know, it’s not a game, it’s not a contest.
Um, would I have been able to benefit from your sound judgment? You know what I mean? And then I looked at my younger more junior staffers. It was like, they don’t have this opportunity. And that really is something I was hard to re.
Jon-Stephen Stansel: That’s something. Yeah. I, I kind of think about a lot because I feel like there is an element of privilege. That goes alongside, like what I tweet out and have tweeted out in the past where it’s like, I don’t like this term and, and a lot of people are talking and don’t like, it either like quiet, quitting, but like there does come a point.
When you’re just like, you know, what, if I tweet this and I lose my job over it, I can find something else. And I kind of got to that point where it’s just like, Hey, you know, I can, I can say what I want and, and maybe say what other people are saying. Cause I have this privilege too, of like, It can be a little bit more open and then other people might in those DMS reach out and go, yeah, I’m not gonna say this publicly, but yeah, , I totally know what you’re going through.
Um, so kind of wielding that, that, uh, tool in a responsible, helpful way, um, is, is, is, is something I think about quite a.
Joseph Master: I think that there’s an immense amount of personal responsibility that comes from putting yourself out there too. Like for me, when I started writing for inside higher ed. I got really involved with volt when volt kicked off, you know, I did have internally folks come to me being like, are you sure you want to be putting this stuff out there?
And to me there wasn’t a question. It was, I, I, not only am I sure, but I do think that this actually serves my team as much as it serves any personal brand that, that I, you know, I’m very late to understanding brand and marketing. I didn’t study this stuff at school. I studied philosophy in English. So like I could, I, I was finding my.
But I believe at the same time with so many others. So I felt like part of this club and I’ve never been a join.
Joel Goodman: I think the three of us probably come from a, a similar place in our heads where if we’re not doing something to try and push forward, our colleagues and push forward the industry in general, then like, what is it really worth? Just like spinning our wheels just to like, I don’t know. Maybe, maybe it’s this whole Ambition Can’t Wait thing resonating with me right now, but like, I’ve always been an ambitious person. Like I don’t. I don’t see much value in just being in higher ed and keeping quiet and keeping my head down and working away on the things that someone else tells me to do. I think, I think some of us have some of us have to play that role to kind and kind of nudge or just full on shove the industry forward so that it, it can be better.
Jon-Stephen Stansel: also like those are the employees you want the people that are like, tweeting about. You know, their, their Instagram insights during, you know, their off hours like that. That’s a social media hire. You wanna make right. You shouldn’t be afraid of that. Like you should be encouraging that and like encouraging them to go out.
We, we talked about this on last week’s episode, like encouraging people to go out and present, and those, those things are, are really important.
Joseph Master: Yeah, absolutely. And, and when we talk about this resignation or Exodus, like let’s, let’s look at the meaning of, of resignation, the acceptance of something undesirable, but inevitable. So. For someone like me, it’s very hard for me to reconcile that this was inevitable. Cause it was, you know, this was, you know, we, we do have an industry that.
You know, I’ve this weekend. I was, I was talking to my neighbor who’s who’s in healthcare and we always compare eds and meds to each other. And we were talking about what is the other industry that higher ed resembles? And, you know, I think what we arrived at the auto industry, you know, there’s a lot written about the auto industry, you know, back in the seventies about how it had gotten bloated and had refused to, you know, change and how European and Asian car manufacturers started making vehicles that were more efficient, smaller.
And then it was like, oh, well, ours, you know, don’t break. And the parts are, are cheaper and let’s ride that out. And then other things happen innovations. And then what happens, you know? So, you know, so in higher ed, it was it’s, it’s tough because I, I hate the word Exodus, you know, I don’t feel like I left, by the way, you know, now I just get to work with more brands, but it implies this running away from that.
Doesn’t sit right with me. I think for me, it’s more of. I got to peer over the fence and see the landscape. And, you know, once I saw that I started caring much more about the landscape than a single institution. If that makes sense.
Joel Goodman: Yeah, that, I mean that. Resonates with me in terms of why I left my last university job, you know, 10, 10 ish, years ago. um, and yeah, it came down to, I felt like I had done everything I could there and I cared more about. What all of higher ed was doing and knew that what I was doing at the institution that I was at, wasn’t really gonna affect anything else.
And so having maybe I’m just power hungry, but having that wider sphere of, of influence and impact I think was, was attractive to me and that’s, and that’s why I’ve stayed in, in this industry. And I remember moving to Austin in 2012 and making tech friends and having all them. Why do you work in higher ed? You know, like, well, , there’s a few reasons
Jon-Stephen Stansel: That really kind of brings us around to one, one, the things we wanna talk about today in, and, and the fact that. I don’t think it’s so much, we, we can, we can float around like being ambitious people or, or leaders or being good, what we do like, but not having a clear path up the ladder of knowing what your next step is like for people who are, you know, very talented and passionate about what they do.
It’s not so much that, oh, I wanna get to the next level to make more money. I wanna be able to do more things and I want to make more, not make. Creatively not, yeah, we wanna make more money too, but no, no lie about that, but like, we want both, we want, we want that fulfillment. We don’t want to just be like, okay, well I’m gonna sit here for the next five years doing the same thing and fighting the same battles.
Like eventually those people are gonna leave. So what sort of things can we do? You know, we’re talking about how. other higher ed marketers have been treated. And, and, and what, what can we do to make this better for, for, for those that are still working on campuses? What can universities do?
Joseph Master: So I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately and something that, you know, I, I, I’m hoping you two would wanna share something that I, you know, as an ex reporter, I always just want to get to the heart. You know, I wanna have the crucial conversation, something that isn’t talked about a lot, our feelings.
Um, some, we, we don’t talk about the, the mourning period you go through when you make that realization. Joel, that, that, that you just brought up. So I wanna ask both of you, because JS, I’ve heard you talk about it as well. You know, when you finally get to that decision and that’s an iterative process, it’s almost like going through the forms of grief and let’s be clear here.
This is not war. You know, we’re not saving lives in higher ed marketing. You know, let’s be honest, but. Did you, did you both have to grapple with this feeling of, you know, I want to help, but I feel like I’m letting X, Y, Z down. Did you go through
Jon-Stephen Stansel: Oh, for sure. yeah, I mean, I, it was coming to the decision to leave higher ed was, was a tough one. Like, and I wasn’t sure I was gonna leave higher ed. I just, I just knew like, okay, what I’m doing right now is not working for me, you know, from a professional standpoint, from a fulfillment standpoint, from definitely a pay standpoint.
I mean, that was a factor in it where it was like, man, I’m not only stressing out about work and crisis calm. I’m actually stressing out about, you know, paying the bills this month. Um, So all of those things kind of combined to create a perfect storm and not getting that the, you know, sort of feeling like I was appreciated and supported, you know, there were people around me that were very supportive, you know, you’re direct supervisors and whatnot, but then like, As the institution as a whole, he’s just kind of like, oh, okay, well you, one social media management was still seen, like it’s a specialist role.
And, and, and granted like, as you have those little rankings of the job titles, like it’s harder to get into meetings and it’s like, Hey, this is really important. I am controlling the crisis communications on social media. You need to hear it. I don’t need to be playing. Telephone tag of like translation up the ladder.
Um, I’m going like off the rails. you’ve like opened up the old wounds here, but like it, and then like actually making that decision was like, man, you know, leaving higher ed, like this is something like, I think people that stay in it and are in it for a long time, all, all three of us. And, and more like, we, you don’t stay in it that long.
If you don’t believe in the mission, you don’t. Like you’re actually helping, uh, your institution and your community as a whole. So it is tough to make that, that, that call as, as I think we all know.
Joel Goodman: And for me, I mean, I, I left my last university role. I was pretty young, man, I was 28. Um, and I was more exhausted than anything. And probably, you know, I don’t wanna say I was arrogant. I was very, very confident in the work that I did. And I knew like it was really low hanging fruit stuff. So like, I didn’t really feel like I need, like, I didn’t need like a, a, I didn’t need like an MBA to do the stuff that I was doing, uh, at this university.
Um, but I, I had gotten to the point over two years where I had accomplished. More than I should have in two years, um, for sure. And had run myself into the ground. Um, I was exhausted. I, the only people I felt like I might be letting down were like my, my couple of teammates, um, that I had developed really good relationships with and, and good friendships.
Um, But I also knew their quality level and they didn’t need me to keep doing good work. And I wasn’t really, like, I, I felt more of a collaborator with them than someone that was, you know, supporting their, their quality level. And so leaving that university to me felt it felt more like I was. Lifting everyone else up, I guess, or at least like I had the potential to do that.
So I, I just, I fought, I had to fight for basic basic things nonstop.
Joseph Master: I mean, I think that’s a thing.
Joel Goodman: Yeah. I mean, even after proving myself and for after two years, just like, why am I dealing with this? Like, I’ve I could do, like, I had a, a pretty healthy, like side freelance, uh, thing going on, where I was building band websites and like, you know, like working with, uh, working with like random, small businesses.
Like I could, this could probably sustain me if I lived somewhere cheaper, you know, that sort of thing. Um, But then, you know, moving into moving to starting an agency, uh, you know, like a lot of that was just based on this feeling of having a network already, knowing what I could do and, and knowing that I knew higher ed, at least, you know, at the time I knew the higher ed landscape pretty well and could offer.
You know, similar to what you said, Joe, like you get to work with a lot more brands like that was, I just wanted projects. I wanted to work with a lot of different, a lot of different institutions on a lot of different projects and do a lot of different stuff because it sounded more fun. And, uh, you know, and use that, that freshly mentioned master’s degree that I got.
Joseph Master: I just think it’s such a personal thing. Like, and I feel like there’s been a lot of conversation. I listened to the one with Steve and Steve’s a real good friend of mine too, when, when he is on Thought Feeder and you know, for me, you know, I think everybody wants the people who quote left to have. Some soundbite where we’re able to maybe quote Jeff lingo or say the right thing, and then contextualize what we, what we wanna say.
And for me it’s much different. It’s very emotional and you know, what it comes down to is that it’s okay to change your mind when the circumstances have changed. And that’s a grace that I feel like no matter what industry you’re in, you need to afford yourself. And it, it affect. Parts of my life that made me really need to look inward.
And that’s why I think it’s a personal thing. That’s why I don’t like the word, the great, the phrase, the great resignation or Exodus. Cause it’s got these implications that I, my reason wasn’t really idiosyncratically
Jon-Stephen Stansel: Yeah, I, I think that’s true. I think a lot of people came to different realization. All at the same time, it kind of got lumped into this thing, but like, yeah, everybody’s that I’ve talked, to’s choice has been different based on their circumstances and, and what they wanted to do and where they were at and how the pandemic affected them and whatnot.
But, uh, yeah, I think it was, was a moment like, like you said, where everybody got a chance to kind of peer over the fence and go, oh, okay. You know, and most people were like, yeah, yeah. I, I like what I see.
Joseph Master: And we saw we, so many of us saw it coming like this competition. And choice conundrum that higher Ed’s been in, you know, this need to, to add more colleges within universities, more degree programs to than more law schools, more medical schools, you know, more, uh, staff to, to, to facilitate these things existing than more research, more research, expenditures, more aid.
Obsessive compulsive disorder when it comes to rankings that are at odds with how young people rank us. And then there’s, you know, then you look inward at an organization and you go, how is this not, not going to reach some kind of climax? You know, the writer in me, I was like, I, you know, this, this is pretty Shakespearean.
Joel Goodman: Me to referee this, uh, this fight on airport, uh, billboard thing.
Jon-Stephen Stansel: OHHHHH!
Joseph Master: Oh, are we really gonna get into that?
Joel Goodman: I’m here to referee a, a small, uh, we’ll. We’ll call it. A a disagreement that the two of you had on, on the old Twitters, uh, specifically when JS cited the irrationality of airport advertising for colleges and universities. Like the, the, I think in particular JS, you’re talking about like the bigger one, not like the small little signs, but like
Jon-Stephen Stansel: Both, all of it!
Joel Goodman: All of it!
Okay. Not just like the subway style.
Jon-Stephen Stansel: It’s expensive. It’s really expensive. And I, I was, I was going through the AR one of my first post COVID trips and seeing all the airport advertising for universities, that one, frankly, looked all kind of the same. You can’t really tell like, which is for which university and just the fact that there’s so much going on, people who are just ignoring them and like thinking, knowing the cost of what.
A not so good placement in an airport in a small regional airport cost and thinking like, okay, multiply that times 10 to be in a really good location in a major airport, how much further that money would go in social ads. And like, I, and I I’m, I’m a let Joe fin it because I, I do see. Value and out of home, but I, I think Joe knows it better than I do.
So like tell me I’m wrong. like, like why it’s just so much money. It’s so much money.
Joseph Master: Okay. So one, if I’m gonna have this argument with anyone I’d like that, I get to have it with you. You’re so emotional about it though. Like, I just feel like, I feel like I’ve tickled the dragon here, so let’s see. Let’s see. We can walk this back. So nobody reads. People read what interests them. And sometimes it’s an ad and that’s, that’s a quote from Howard Gossage this old Mad Man from San Francisco.
Who’s like the GOAT of copywriting. Right. So let’s, so we’ve got traditional media. Let’s talk, let’s not make it about airports.
Jon-Stephen Stansel: I, I think the same about billboards.
Joseph Master: Right. But I I’d mean traditional verse digital media, I think to some extent, let’s see if we can agree about. No matter how you shake it, that you’re throwing to some extent something at a wall and it, you need it to stick.
So it depends on the wall and who’s seeing it and the weather and the news and good advertising is built on good strategy. Now hear me out because I know JS is already gonna jump on me the second I’ve done say so. So it’s, if that strategy includes an origin story. And weather and seasonality and who walks and drives by it and what they’re consuming in the media and how they’re consuming it.
And then what is the difference at the bottom between digital and traditional really tactically? We execute it differently. But if the argument is about cost, then what we need to do is a fix cost to what the goal is. Because I do think that JS when it comes to your argument about, you know, for the dollar digital wins.
Right. But what if, what if your goal is that if I want somebody in Arkansas to get a degree from Drexel university, Or Temple University, the two universities I’ve worked for, they need to know what a Temple University or a Drexel University is, is the same execution of those media dollars digitally going to get me awareness amongst the influencers of that decision and that that’s an argument I’m willing to have.
Jon-Stephen Stansel: You see the problem, Joe, is that you are thinking rationally and logically and strategically about out of home advertising and not. Every other university in the state has a billboard on this bridge. so we have to have ours there too, which I think was, is, is the reasoning for so much out of home advertising and airport advertising in particular like of, okay.
Well, board of trustees member got off the plane and saw ad for X, Y XYZ university and not ours. And they’re upset and we’ve gotta spend, we’ve gotta spend how many thousands of dollars per year just to make this one person happy. Uh, I don’t, you know, but I agree like when you look zoom out and say, okay, how are we telling a story?
How are we, you know, making this appealing instead of letting faculty Senate decide on what gets featured on the billboard, because we’re not doing research enough. Maybe we actually give people to tie it back to the beginning of this debate. Like what people, interest people, and they actually wanna read and see.
So they’ll pay attention to the bill.
Joseph Master: And also something that I wanna say about, about you is that you’re so good at what you do, right. And you’re so digital focused. Also, you know, lie down in my, in my chair. I’m gonna, uh, psychoanalyze you for a second. Um, I do believe that when you do that in a vacuum and you’re not part of the same team as the earned media people, and you’re not part of the same team as the other paid media, the traditional media or the individual program.
Uh, managers who are in some, at universities all over the nation told, Hey, you need to do digital advertising for this program. And they don’t know what they’re doing that speaks to organizational issues. Right? So when I address this, it comes from that point of view of being on a team where I was responsible for all paid media at Drexel university, it took me and another AVP getting together who did all the enrollment, like he, his office.
Covered the comms plan, you know, thousands of emails to make that freshman class every year took us coming together saying like let’s align here. And the point would be to connect your traditional media to your digital media, to your social media and to your earned media Ambition. Can’t wait something that I didn’t bring up earlier.
Was built on the back of our earned media strategy, all of those pillars, brand pillars that those earned media, uh, uh, personnel are going out pounding pavement, trying to get placements for that’s what the campaign was built on. It’s all connecting the dots and then social kind of followed suit. But, but yes, I get your point.
I can’t argue. The ridiculous cost differential from placing social ads to doing a New York times full pager on the Sunday magazine.
Jon-Stephen Stansel: But it speaks to the difference, like when you see it done well, right. How much more it stands out from the rest. Cause you can spot like you’re driving down the street and you see those billboards and you’re just like, yeah. Somebody with a very important title wanted that like versus the, oh, that’s a really effective ad.
Um, and that, you know, makes me wanna learn more.
Joel Goodman: I really want to talk about a campaign that I’m seeing in Austin. That’s surprising if that’s cool. so, uh, so y’all know Austin is, has gotten very expensive. Uh, in the last several years, we are essentially becoming. You know, San Francisco, junior, uh, bay area junior with all the tech companies moving here and most of their staff moving here.
Um, there have been billboards up along the main freeways here for the state of Ohio. Trying to poach people away from Texas and away from Austin in particular to the, to the state of Ohio and their cities. And they’re using, they’re using, uh, actually pretty aggressive language, like, uh, you know, keep Austin weird, like cost of living is really high, so move to Ohio like that, that sort of stuff.
Um, it’s, uh, it’s interesting. And I remember them popping up and. Ohio’s advertising here. , that’s just really strange. Um, and, um, I would, I would love to see data on that. I want to know how well those are performing, because I know a lot of people that have moved here from Ohio, but I don’t know as many people moving back to Ohio, at least not for the reasons the state wants ’em
Joseph Master: I’m gonna have to look up pictures of that, of those billboards. So, cause something I don’t know about about you guys, but I am that I will. Put my life in danger driving and take pictures of billboards. I do it all the time. I’m obsessed and, and I’ve got many people I’ll text them to and be like, what do you
Jon-Stephen Stansel: I will do the same. like, oh, I’ll drive by it like five times. And like try and find like a spot. I can get a good, good picture, but that doesn’t always work.
Joel Goodman: I also remember this was a, this was during the pandemic, but down kind of near my house on the east side, which is like the cool side, the cool part of the city. Um, I wanna say it was like Belmont, but maybe it was another, it might have been another B university had put up, uh, billboards about trying to attract musicians to their, their music programs.
I was like, that’s interesting on the east side where none of these people could afford to live. Oh, okay. Like
Joseph Master: So what you’re bringing up speaks to, you know, know your market, know the demographics, the geographics of, of where you’re, you’re placing these things. I. I mean, that is an issue. That’s definitely an issue. And that’s why I think let’s bring this up. I think that’s something that should be operationalized in budgets across the board is market research.
So I feel like universities, like once every five years or so make realize that they need to do a couple things, you know, redo the website, which is never done. And why is it, why does it need to be this vis vicious circle where website redesigns or upgrades or whatever we call them makes everyone crazy.
Joel Goodman: Yeah, throw a half a million dollars into this every five years and it doesn’t actually do what it’s supposed to do. And, and everyone’s stressed out on top of the rest of their work the whole time.
Joseph Master: And then market research, not just having a baseline understanding of, uh, nationally or in the markets you want to be in. Do what do people know about you, but also what media are the people who you want to know about you consuming and use that to inform where you place media, you know, that’s that, that’s the other part too.
That’s really, really, really necessary. When it comes to the placement of the traditional advertis.
Jon-Stephen Stansel: That brings us to another thing a as we talk about marketers leaving and leaving higher ed or leaving their universities, a lot of them, you know, are going to agencies like, you know, and, and as higher ed. Marketing offices start to shrink a bit because either, you know, they’re not getting that funding or they can’t find people they’re leaning more on to agencies and having to have a tighter, closer relationship with agencies.
And sometimes those relationships are really good and sometimes they’re a little contentious. So how can high folks still working on college campuses work really well together with their agency and get the best work out of them for their universities?
Joseph Master: Long before I worked for an agency, I was always impressed with how agencies were structured. I’ve written about it before. I think I read something for inside higher ed about how we should all, we could all take a nod from the project manager. And the strategist, it gets a little ridiculous in higher ed, how there’s an assistant director of everything.
Um, and then an associate director and then a manager of, and, and these are sometimes specialists. Sometimes generalists doesn’t matter because they’re in a lane. , you know what I mean? And, and what I was always enamored by, especially when it became my job to manage the relationships with agencies of record.
We had one at Drexel for all search engine marketing, Seer Interactive, uh, you know, Wil Reynolds is a genius. I love, I miss my meetings with him actually. And then LevLane advertising in Philadelphia was for all other media, for us in my relationships with, with our, these agencies, I, I felt like they were part of my team as much as the people on my team.
And I felt like I was learning. In some cases more for, from them externally than I was internally. And I was learning about how they were structured, how they sta how they would ramp up resources to meet our needs, how we would have conversations about, oh, we’re gonna need some more project management of this one.
And I started, that was part of me peering over the fence, I think. And I’m sure there was other people who had similar kind of, you know, comings to Jesus about this.
Jon-Stephen Stansel: I, I think that’s absolutely true. I mean, you work with the agencies and you see, okay, well, they’ve got this together a little bit, you know, what are they doing differently? And, um, you know, how can we, how can we use some of that in our own experience and, and, and, and, and make that internalize that for our department.
Um, yeah, but it can also be a little tough sometimes too, cause it’s like when you get those big meetings with other stakeholders in the university. They don’t really know how to talk to the agency and, and, and, and under understand it. So if having that translation up, the chain of command can be so difficult too.
And I think that’s something a lot of people struggle with.
Joseph Master: Somehow I found myself only wanting to be in those conversations, Jess, like I wanna be in the room with the trustees and, and with the, the people who are making the decisions to talk about this. And that’s when that’s, when I knew that I had reached a, a personal growing point with me because. Those are things that let’s, let’s be honest.
Like when you’re coming up in higher ed, you’re afraid of these people. , you’re afraid of those conversations at the beginning because you know, you hear stories, it becomes like this, like, uh, it’s the stuff of myth and folklore.
Jon-Stephen Stansel: This is like way, way, way back for me. Like one of my early days in higher ed marketing, where a VP did not like what the agency had come up with and suggested their own changes. And it was my job to go meet with the agency and tell them all the changes this VP wanted that I knew in my head were bad.
And not the right thing to do. And I had to kind of look the fool and go, well, we need to do the X, Y, and Z because,
Joseph Master: There’s a lot of apologize. Right. You’re like, I’m sorry.
Jon-Stephen Stansel: and I couldn’t say it like we have all come to this decision. It’s not just an individual VP who is being demanding despite the fact that. We had agreed on doing this for months ahead of time. So yeah, I think that that’s, um, letting the marketers run the marketing, I think comes back to the, uh, the crux of, of a lot of the problems in higher ed marketing.
Joseph Master: Right. And you know what, though, and this speaks to some stuff that I’ve seen, Joel, that you’ve been putting out there on the Twitter too, is that there’s not a silver, it’s not just. Empowering marketing, or like even making changes to the organizational structure of marketing teams. It’s also integrating marketing with other areas.
It’s also the tethers to student life, to student affairs, to academic affairs, you know, all these things that marketers are historically scared to death to even touch, you know, they’re not now and now it’s marketers going like. We over the past two and a half years, we’ve had a lot of people who have been talking about, you know, racial injustice and, you know, social justice and activism.
And this is something that historically is like, oh, let’s put this off to media relations and crisis coms. It’s not crisis coms anymore. When this is every day, it’s no longer crisis. This is just normal cons. Now just, and what it spoke to is this deficiency in our organizations to align. And make these what we call skunkworks projects.
If it’s something that you need to happen on a daily basis, you should not be doing some basement. Like sh we’re not telling anyone that we’re doing this. It should be operationalized.
Joel Goodman: Joe, wasn’t having CMOs support like the report directly to the president, supposed to fix all of that? Wasn’t it supposed to make marketing like wasn’t that the silver bullet, like make marketing just more central to the entire organization and, and fix all these systemic problems that have built up over the last, you know, 50 plus years with.
It’s a conversation that I feel like I have had, you know, 30 times over the last 16 years about how marketing needs to be infused in all of these things. It’s like, Hey, you know, what’s helpful for, for student life. It’s if they feel like they’re cared for, and you know, what can go a long way in doing that?
Like a little bit of marketing actually can help a lot and not, you know, not people that don’t know how to communicate people that know how to do it and know how. You know, affect, uh, affect people’s perception of what’s going on and, and, you know, kind of try to guide the conversation a little bit, but you know, like, no one’s paid enough in a marketing team to handle both all of the external and all of the internal stuff.
That’s happening. You have a one person for in internal coms, right. And it’s internal coms. They’re essentially a traffic manager and. It just, it doesn’t, it doesn’t make sense. Like it, it just, it points, it keeps pointing back to what you were talking about needing to, to have this reassessment and, you know, loving reorgs, cause there is a, there’s a real benefit to reorganizing. If you know what you’re doing.
Joseph Master: Yeah. So one of the concerns I have about the CMO, the status of the CMO in higher ed and there’s people like Angela Pollock. Who’s doing great things at Las who did a dissertation on this is that I think in large measure, higher ed has rejected the organ of the CMO, but as we’ve seen some CMOs. Make some success. What are we seeing?
We’re seeing CMOs who have a modicum of success, and then they, they go, okay, we’re gonna give you enrollment too. And my concern about this is that higher ed likes to build a lot of towers. And I want to see more horizontals that, that cut across the verticals. And I think that that’s the issue. It’s like, you do a good job.
We’re gonna make this report to marketing just like 15 years ago, marketing reported to advancement. That was the model in higher ed. I’m concerned that we’re seeing. Other towers get built and not other horizontal.
Joel Goodman: The industry just can’t seem to break free of that traditional. Org structure mentality. Like they, I don’t, I, and I don’t, I don’t know what change I have, like suspicions about what could help change that. And like, I, I kind of hope this younger generation of leaders that are, that are kind of coming into some of the vacuums that have been left are, are, are the people to do it.
But I also don’t know that they come from the. Generation of thoughtful marketer, strategic marketer, strategic, even just strategic, uh, ops type of background as we want them to, because a lot of those people stay outside of higher
Joseph Master: Joel, did you actually study marketing?
Joel Goodman: Yeah. So my undergrad was, uh, it was a, a hybrid marketing PR communication degree.
So, um, it was like a few business classes, a whole lot of marketing. Um, and yeah, that, so it was, it was basically, it was originally, it was called media promotions. It was a bachelor’s science and media promotions, which was within the communication department and it was. I was gonna go in the music industry.
Like that’s what I wanted to do. so that’s what I studied. Um, but like, it was, it was more on the creative side of, of business and the creative side of PR and communication. And so it kind of served me well going into a web role. And then, uh, my master’s degree is in media studies, but all that was focused on digital culture creation.
And so. The I, you know, it wasn’t a lot of people hear media studies, they think, oh, you’re watching a bunch of movies and stuff. I didn’t take those classes. I took the classes that were, uh, you know, studying semiotics and, uh, and, and how to, how to communicate well and how to do more creative work. And just applied that to the, you know, the, the six or seven years that I had in doing marketing.
I felt like I needed more of that theoretical background. So kind of like kind of marketing background, sorta, like
Joseph Master: Well, that’s cool. That just, it sounds like something I’d love to study now. I was the opposite though. I studied, I majored double major in philosophy and fiction writing and, and minored in history and bartended for a very long time. Afterwards and then kind of sought out higher ed. And the only way that I got in was because I happened to be in publishing, right when print died and raised my hand to be like, I, we should have some social media accounts here and then kind of became that first wave.
Jon-Stephen Stansel: Okay. So let’s talk about being that first wave social media manager. I was the first full time social media manager, not at one but two universities. Uh, and it’s a stepping into that role after it being. And I, I would say for both universities, it was late in coming of, of, of making that hire, but stepping into that role and having to write the ship and kind of set up, you know, procedures and policies as, as, as you’re you’re, you’re flying.
To mix metaphors is, is, is really it’s tough. It’s no easy task. So Joe, tell, tell me a little bit about you, you doing that.
Joseph Master: So when I started in higher ed, it was like end of 2010, 2011, beginning of 2011. I was I, to my knowledge, I think I was Drexel’s first, social media hire and I was for the business school. And as you, you know, business schools kind of do things first. Um, so there wasn’t somebody, I believe on the central team running the university’s accounts, who was specifically doing social at the time.
I think it was still being managed by the media relations, uh, director. And I just remember having these conversations that now I think are kind of funny where it would be like. Winter break. And, and my boss would, we we’d be having that last meeting before the break and it would be, you know, so just turn it off, relax, you know, don’t worry.
And, and I would have to like go into his office and be like, you do know that I’m gonna have to be. On social every day over break. And I was like, no, you don’t have to do that. I’m like, no, I do have to do that. That’s part of my job but, but you know, those conversations hadn’t been had yet. And I think that, that it’s my biggest pain points were that people always thought that social was me disseminating information.
We used to talk about it. Like if it’s not driving traffic back to your website, that it’s a tree falling in the forest. And I remember coming up at. This like analogy that like, it used to be that you had to drive everyone back to Rome. And I got, I was getting all historical, but now social is constant to PLE there’s two popes and, and and I got a little, get a little outta my mind with the analogies here.
Maybe it’s, you know, the fact that I was, you know, a, a guilty, you know, uh, Catholic, but. Yeah. I, I just remember really hard trying to get people to understand that it wasn’t just dissemination. It was engagement. And I still think that our teams are having those problems.
Jon-Stephen Stansel: it’s hard to come in and be like, all right, I’m, I’m running the social show now. Um, we’re not posting. Even though I am still in a, I, I am a specialist role and way down the chain. Uh, I am taking total ownership of this and saying no, like, I think that was like the biggest thing for me. I was like, when I got that first role was like, you know what?
I control this and probably said no. And a lot more than I should have.
Joseph Master: I made some of my biggest mistakes saying no, though. The first thing I did was I got rid of 33 social accounts and said that these don’t need to exist. And if I could go back in time, hate having regrets, I would have proven my value before telling people no, but I was, you know, trying to, you know, do do things the right way.
And there was no playbook at the
Jon-Stephen Stansel: And that that’s what it comes down to. You’re trying to do things the right way and sometimes saying no is, is doing that. And yeah, probably need a. More diplomacy before. Like, I, I think my big mistake, like my first week is like, I, I told the president’s office, like, no, we’re not deleting that we do not delete anything like, you know?
Joseph Master: Do you remember J.S having to like bone up on like first amendment? Like I, I remember getting so freaked out. I was at a conference in Mark Weaver. Who’s this great lawyer who advises universities when they’re in the throws of crisis. Remember him talking about first amendment on the internet and coming back and be like, we’re never deleting anything ever again.
Jon-Stephen Stansel: Yeah. Oh, oh for sure. I mean working both, you know, every institution I worked in was state funded and worked in a, for the Texas department trip and had to learn all, all of that stuff of, of like what you can and can’t do and blocking and all of that. So yeah, it’s tough being the first person in that role to like, okay.
To look at there. There’s no playbook.
Joseph Master: just think social media, you know, I, there’s a soapbox that I’ve often stood on and JS. We we’ve talked about this on the internet, but, uh, it’s such, it’s the most misunderstood position on mark comp teams. It’s misunderstood underutilized under resourced. It should be, have a seat at every table. It is a horizontal, um, And it it’s, it’s a shame that it hasn’t been embraced the way that it needs to be, not just as a bucket, but as, again, as something that cuts through the buckets.
Jon-Stephen Stansel: we could talk about that all day, but we’re, we are sadly towards the end of our time. So Joe tell us where people can find you plug those pluggables for us.
Joseph Master: All right. Well, the first thing I’ll say is that I’ve been at Ologie for a while now, and I’ve been having such a great time. So first I would say you could find my mug on Ologie.com. That would be the first place to go to, but also, um, Joseph J. Master on Twitter. And, you know, I’d love to talk to you there.
And the three of us will keep talking there for
Jon-Stephen Stansel: Oh, indeed. Yes, we will continue this conversation. So look, look for us on Twitter. Uh, feel free to drop us a line or question there.
Joel Goodman: Thank you so much for listening to the Thought Feeder Podcast and a very, very special thanks to Joe master for. With us today. Thanks Joe.
Joseph Master: Thanks so much for having me the two J’. I’m glad I got to be the 3rd J here today.
Joel Goodman: You can find, uh, Joe online, he already told us, uh, where to go find him at Ologie, find him on Twitter. You can find us on Twitter at thought feed pod, or on our website thoughtfeederpod.com where we’ve got transcripts for every episode. And, uh, some other things, I don’t know, we should probably put some writing on there, but you can see, you know, J.S.’s face and my face.
And speakers faces people that have been on this show, uh, but definitely visit Thought Feeder pod.com Thought Feeder is produced and edited by Carl Gratiot and hosted by Jon-Stephen Stansel and me, Joel Goodman. And if you’re a fan of the show and are feeling generous, we’d really appreciate a review on your preferred podcast listening platform.
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