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Alternate Facts

Alternate Facts

What is a college degree worth?

Opportunity. A better chance at success. Open doors that were previously closed.

As true as those statements are, they don’t actually answer the question. What is a college degree WORTH. How much better off are your alumni after receiving their diploma?

It should be easy to quantify and communicate, but it often isn’t. Colleges and universities rarely take the time to analyze real-world labor market data and correlate it with their own degree programs. Even though the data is largely in the public domain and accessible with software tools such as Emsi Analyst.

Instead, institutions of higher learning fall back on unscientific surveys of their most successful alumni. “Joe Student did our two-year certificate program, and now makes over over a million dollars! Sign up for this program and you will too!”

That’s about as forthcoming as a lottery commercial saying “results may vary.”

The truth is that you can quantify the value of a college education. And every education should. Doing so brings more value to the student, and helps the institution justify its value to the taxpayers, which helps ensure its funding for years to come.

But until the regulatory landscape changes, transparency in degree programs is not likely to change. And that’s where the immediate opportunity lies.

Imagine if there was only one grocery store in town that stocked its shelves with properly-labeled products?

Imagine if there was only one gas station that disclosed the cost of the fuel on sign by the highway, rather than waiting until after it was dispensed into the customer’s car?

Imagine if you were the only higher education institution in your region who had the trust of the public and the support of the private sector because of the quantifiable value you were bringing to the community?

The future of the education industry lies in proving your economic value – to your students, your taxpayers, and to the private companies hiring your graduates.

Ideas are cheap. Execution is what’s worth paying for.

Ideas are cheap. Execution is what’s worth paying for.

It was going to change everything about the way the university did overseas extension work.

It was going to triple funding for needy research projects.

It was going to be an innovative breakthrough in alumni fundraising.

These are some of the phrases used to describe a big idea to crowdsource funding for some university work in the developing world.

But in the end, it turned out to be none of those things. The project flopped, and everything associated with it took a dive.


As it turns out, virtually no resources were allocated to the execution of the idea. The project had been announced by the dean of a college, bragged about by the university president, held up as an example of innovation by the provost, and no fewer than three vice presidents and associate vice presidents took credit for the idea.

How big was the actual team? One half-time IT employee. This poor guy was tasked with setting up the website, managing the technical backend, creating marketing content, and even setting up a booth at the occasional involvement fair.

Or put another way: everyone was in the charge, but hardly anyone showed up for work.

Sure, everything starts with an idea. But talk is cheap. The team that implements the idea is far more important than the originator the idea. Chances are the idea isn’t even unique! Plenty of people may be thinking of working on the exact thing you are thinking of right now. But the institution we will be talking about five years from now won’t be the one that had the original idea. It will be the one that executed it right.

Have a great idea that needs great execution? We would love to talk to you. We take great ideas from great institutions and turn them into tangible materials that WORK.

Interested in working with us?

The Secret to Great Video Interviews

The Secret to Great Video Interviews

In my short career, I have conducted between 750 and one thousand on-camera interviews. Most of them with faculty members or higher education administrators. I don’t claim to be a journalist – what I do isn’t journalism. I excel at getting the right quote to be said on-camera and then presenting it in a way that is compelling to a lay audience.

So what is the secret to doing good interviews?

Find out what it is that your subject does for a living, and then care about that thing.

Their work might be career-defining research that is changing people’s lives. It might be washing windows on the side of university buildings. It really doesn’t matter. If you communicate care and interest in how they spend their time, they will open up to you. They will start talking. Even if they hate their job and wish they were doing something else. Value their work, and they will value the time you spend together.

Not every interview is going to be a home run. There will be times when you just can’t get the quote you need or the message you want. But this one technique will always make the interview better.

Honor the person you are interviewing by honoring what they invest their time in. And they will honor you with better quotes, better posture, and a better countenance on-camera.

How long should your videos be?

How long should your videos be?

How long should your institution’s video content be?

Only as long as it is interesting. And not one second longer.

For some, the threshold will be only 20 seconds. For others, it can last several minutes. If you are really good, you can get away with 5-10 minutes. If you are longer than 15 minutes, you had better be a TED Talk that solves world hunger. And not just the idea of world hunger. The video itself needs to solve hunger just by being played in a browser.

These are questions that comes up a lot in higher education marketing. How much is too much? How long is too long? Is there such a thing as too short?

The answer to every single one is “As long as it is interesting.”

There is no set pattern or format that works every time. Unless you are working in broadcast and need to hit a precise 30 second window, you have the freedom to engage or bore your audience for as long as you like.

The length doesn’t matter. Being interesting does.

Interested in working with us?

Higher Education is like a can of Pepsi

Higher Education is like a can of Pepsi

Look down at the bottled beverage on your desk.

Read the label on the back. See the nutrition information and ingredients? There are regulations in place to make sure every consumer knows exactly what is inside every one of those bottles of liquid.


Public health. Transparency. Consumer confidence.

By disclosing what’s inside, a beverage vendor automatically takes a step towards building trust with their customers. Would you ever buy a bottled soda off the shelf that was conspicuously missing those labels? I didn’t think so.

Higher education doesn’t have regulations requiring up-front disclosure of the contents of degree programs (yet). But there is nothing to stop progressive-thinking institutions from doing exactly that.

It’s called an economic impact study. Analyzing your programs and measuring how much return your students and taxpayers get on their investment. In other words, is this degree program paying off? And how much benefit is it actually bringing its students?

Anyone can educate students. But a successful college or university will bring a rate of return for every dollar that is better than if you had simply invested the money in stocks and bonds. If a student is going to throw $10,000-80,000 at a degree, how will the contents of that degree benefit their lives? Are they more employable? Has their earning potential improved? An impact study can quantify that.

The same thing goes for taxpayers. If a city or region is subsidizing an institution, how does it know that what it is investing in is bringing a positive effect on their community? An impact study proves it.

Without clear data, we are selling the product of higher education solely on feelings. And while feelings are good for prompting people to action, they come up short when proving value. An innovative college or university will market using emotions AND data. Together, you have a powerful value proposition that can change the way your stakeholders view higher education.

After all, if our society thinks it is so important to disclose what’s inside a $1.25 bottle of sugar water, how much more should a multi-billion dollar industry that creates jobs and fuels economic growth?

Interested in talking to some experts? Visit They have the expertise to analyze your institution’s real-world value and turn it into figures you can use.

Interested in working with us?

The Showerhead Principle

The Showerhead Principle

Every male I’ve ever asked has something to say about how much they love their shower.

My master bath’s shower head shattered and fell off the pipe some time back. After enduring many weeks of painful knife-points of misdirected water spatter on my back, I went on Amazon and splurged on a luxury item that was long time in coming: a high-flow showerhead.

For those of you who don’t do home improvement (or live in drought-stricken California), U.S. showerheads are restricted to 2.5 gallons per minute. Most are calibrated at an even 2 GPM just to be safe.

I hate safe showerheads.

It took about five minutes on Amazon to find an affordable showerhead manufactured outside the U.S. that didn’t care about arbitrary flow limits. Three days and free Amazon Prime shipping later, I was the proud owner of the best shower experience of my life.

Heaven had come to my mornings. Showers instantly became the best part of my day. And it all lasted less than two weeks.

At first, the complaints were mild. And a little sheepish.

One of my kids would come out of the bath shivering, saying that the hot water had run out on them while they were covered in soap.

My wife would take a shower immediately after me and comment that something must be wrong with our hot water heater.

The youngest kids would attempt a bath and wind up fighting to get out before the tepid water had their teeth chattering.

After a few days, my household was in revolt. And I had been labeled the villain.

It turns out my 5 gallons per minute ate through a full tank of hot water in about 15 minutes. Meaning that anyone bathing after me was in for a chilly surprise.

“Ok, ok. I’ll return the showerhead,”

But then I would take another 5 gallons per minute shower. And I would forget about my promise to take it all back.

Another revolt over misallocated water. Another promise to make it all right.

Another heavenly shower. Delay, and more delay.

I finally replaced the best shower head in the world with a decidedly more eco-friendly version. My showers have gone back to being mediocre, but at least my kids will look me in the eyes.

I’ve learned a lesson: a single positive experience can blind you to the fact that one thing might be sucking resources away from what’s really important.

Ask yourself if you have any “high flow showerheads” in your marketing plan that are taking resources away from things that need to be watered.

Maybe it’s a large, expensive annual banquet that the executives love but provide almost no ROI for the organization.

Maybe it’s a staffing decision that was paid for by gutting the operations budget.

Or maybe you just need to go item for item on your marketing schedule and quantify the inputs required against the benefits realized. You are sure to find some “showerheads” that are keeping resources from more critical projects.

Do you need help escaping the tyranny of “showerhead spending” in your marketing plan? Give Recraft Media a call. We excel at discovering what actually brings returns and what is wasted water.

Interested in working with us?

Wondering where you can find the best showerhead in the world?