Because incremental credentialing is a new approach to education and training, it is imperative to communicate these changes to a broad array of stakeholders. These stakeholders include learners, employers, college and university faculty and advisors, policymakers, quality assurance entities, and others. All of these audiences will want to know whether incremental credentials are credible, of high quality, and can help those who acquire them reach their education and career goals. In many cases, they also want to know how these credentials already fit within traditional education and training systems. Communications and marketing efforts can help convey these messages to defined audiences. The first step, therefore, is to define your audience.
An institution’s or organization’s audience for specific incremental credentials or programs often includes:
- Learners—prospective, enrolled, and formerly enrolled
- School districts that are large feeders to your institution
- Employers that employ your learners and graduates and work with you on reskilling programs
- Faculty and student support services staff
- Continuing education and outreach units
- Quality assurance entities, including your institutional accreditor and specialized accreditors for your various programs
To define these audiences, go “granular” by documenting a range of descriptors for them. For instance, list your audience’s job roles, top priorities, motivation, needs, objectives, media consumption practices, research methods, trusted resources, and budget and purchasing processes. When considering individuals within audiences, it may be useful to document their likes and dislikes, habits and skills, education levels, and demographic information.
The more clearly and specifically you define your audiences, the better able you’ll be to create communications and marketing efforts that speak effectively to them. In the template described in Step 1, include an initiative that focuses on outreach to specific audiences.