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Coaching in-house teams

Viral news

Wise up with tips for navigating uncertainty in these trying times

April 22, 2020   //   Zehno

We’re sharing the best tips hitting our inboxes and social feeds.

Strategic tips

photos graphicFeature your people wherever they are

During a roundtable discussion with our past and present magazine clients, one editor said, “Don’t rule out photography completely. There are still ways to photograph people wherever they are and practice social distancing.” Draw inspiration from these New York Times photo essays that turn isolation and empty cityscapes into poignant reportage: “Portraits from New Orleans” and “The Great Empty.”

Communicate your value from afar

Take a cue from these consumer brands and their clever responses to the coronavirus. (Be sure to scroll down to see ads from Nike, Facebook and Budweiser.) Or do what Ursuline Academy of New Orleans did, and invite prospects to sit in on a cool virtual class with your students. Hear more from Ursuline’s communications director Christy Zurcher in our webinar on demand.

Word of the wise

Expect the enrollment cliff to arrive much sooner

Before the pandemic, demographics pointed to a notable decline in college enrollment — culminating in a big dropoff in 2025. But according to recent surveys, including this one from Simpson Scarborough, the enrollment dropoff could start this fall. A fifth of students who had been planning to start college this fall say they won’t attend.

So what will you do to keep up enrollment at your school? Don’t just hunker down. Choose how you want to be different — then align everything toward that goal, said Paul Friga, a business professor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, in a Chronicle of Higher Education webinar. Get more great tips from this recorded hour-long discussion: What Colleges Should NOT Do During a Recession (registration required).

Work at home hacks

Fuel your creative teams amid isolation

How do creative teams keep up the good work? Ideate in short bursts. Transcend your four walls and learn something new. Pare down your video brainstorming sessions to as few people as possible. While these tips are written with marketing agencies in mind, they could work for you, too.

Set the right tone for your workday

If you’re bored with your Pandora station or want to infuse new life into your Spotify playlist, here are a few songs and albums that help get us through the day:

James Hunter Six: Nick of Time
Shopping: All or Nothing
Diana Ross & The Supremes: Someday We’ll Be Together
Paco de Lucia: Gold
Lake Street Dive: How Good It Feels
David Bowie: Heroes

We’re here for you

We’re still here. Still working — but now from home. We’re using the remote-working practices we developed post-Hurricane Katrina to keep serving our clients. No matter your marketing challenge, there’s no task too big or too small we can’t handle. See how we can help.

April 3, 2020

Strategic tips

Keep the college experience alive

Many colleges will tell you campus visits are the single most converter for tipping a prospect’s decision. So how do you convey that experience without them ever stepping foot on campus?

One way is continuing to capture your students’ stories — wherever they are — that best embody your brand. What about creating new art? Some ideas: Turn selfies into illustrations. Art direct your students’ self-produced videos to sync with your brand.

Tell us what your school is doing to replace the campus visit.

Anticipate more prospects staying close to home

Many schools have moved their decision day to June. But chances are the decision cycle will be even more drawn out. Students will want to see where your university stands for fall before they make a final decision. Don’t be surprised if some students choose a local school instead (or ask to defer for another semester or year).

Tell us what your plan is for seeking transfer students. (For starters, make sure your transfer web pages are updated and communicate your value.)

Illuminate the humanity behind a crisis

Zehno hosted a roundtable for our former and current magazine clients — as a chance to chat, decompress, and share how editors are all navigating the pandemic. Although many editors are replacing features and adjusting print dates, one bit of advice applies to everyone: Instead of trying to keep up with COVID-19 news, use your magazine to tell your stories, shedding light on your community’s experiences like seniors spending their last semester at home or alumni doing what they can to bring back some normalcy.

Word of the wise

Remove hurdles to stay connected

How do you get prospective students to commit right now? Matt Cyr, vice president of strategic practices at Primacy, says to keep a clear focus on your brand story and make it easy for prospects to connect with you. Check out his tips for rethinking your enrollment marketing through fall.

Work at home hacks

Tune up your videoconferencing etiquette

Still figuring out Zoom? Here are some quick tips to flatten your learning curve:

  • Unmute shortcut: Use your space bar to quickly unmute yourself. Hold down the space bar to speak and release it to be muted again. Voilá.
  • Speak up: When you can’t get a word in edgewise, use chat to chime in.
  • Raise your hand: Or better yet, cut the chaos in large group meetings by designating a moderator. Then ask folks to use the “Raise hand” button in the bottom right-hand corner to be called on.
  • Auto-grooming: With a strong wifi connection, you can smooth out your blemishes. Click “Enable HD” and apply the “Touch up my appearance” feature. The effect can either be wrinkle-free fabulous or Madame Tussauds-like wax figure. Read more at
  • Security: Protect yourself against “Zoombombing” so that hackers don’t troll your meetings. Use password protections or Zoom’s waiting room feature to screen guests. See more prevention tips at Refinery29.
  • Zoom free for K-12: If you’re an independent school and missed Zoom’s announcement, it is temporarily lifting the 40-minute time limit on free basic accounts for schools affected by the coronavirus. Get the details here.

Don’t forget about you

Remember when working from home just meant working remotely? Now it means working remotely plus handling virtual school for the kiddos, preparing more meals than ever before, getting chased around the house by your pets and stressing about what news you’ll read next.

Oh, then there’s the cabin fever brought on by social isolation.

Our point: Keep your self-care in check. Follow these simple tips for coping with stress and anxiety from Verywell Mind.

March 19, 2020

Strategic tips

Stay focused on essentials

Prepare for the day you reopen, even if your school may not look the same. Handle the special projects that are essential as your institution adapts to the virus, but don’t overlook the fundamentals.

Case in point: your admissions campaign. You’ll need butts in seats in the fall, whether they’re on your campus or planted on a sofa in their own homes.

Leverage content you already have

Does your viewbook need to go all digital? If mail delivery gets backlogged — or if the world’s expectations change to everything digital — is your school ready?

Word of the wise

Communication counts

Communication is key as institutions adapt to new ways of working and teaching. Scott Cowen, president emeritus of Tulane University, navigated Hurricane Katrina and its aftermath. Read his tips in The Chronicle of Higher Education (with subscription) on how to face the “level playing field of chaos.”

Work at home hacks

How to still look professional

You’re working at home now. Stressed about the kids. Surprised by new projects hitting your desk. Monitoring your TP supply.

So with all the Zoom meetings you’re involved in, how can you maintain your professional appearance — much less all the routine work you haven’t been able to touch?

If you haven’t had time to build the perfect “professional” backdrop for all those Zoom calls, here’s the trick to hide the reality of your home “office”:

Use Zoom’s built-in backdrops. There’s a space image (might show your fandom but not professional expertise) and some giant grasses (which might make you like you’re in a cheesy Honey, I Shrunk the Kids movie).

Here’s how to upload your own image:

  • Sign into Zoom desktop client.
  • Click Settings.
  • Select Virtual Background from the left-hand menu.
  • Click the + symbol next to Choose a Virtual Background and upload an image stored on your computer.
  • To disable Virtual Background, choose the option None.

How to cut the tension

Most importantly in all of this, take care of yourself. If you’re not well, nothing else matters. And that goes for our families and coworkers.

Researchers agree that loneliness and detachment is dangerous to your health. And we swear the expert on CNN just said its effects were the same as smoking 15 cigarettes per day.

  • Stretch out your meeting to include some old-fashioned talk.
  • Give the water-cooler conversation a digital space with virtual coffee breaks.
  • Get a breath of fresh air and take walks outside (keeping your 6-feet social distance). A little sunshine can do wonders for the psyche.



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