{Replica} PR stunts & gurilla marketing from universities: 11.000 euro scholarship via social media voting?

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Ungewöhnliche PR-Aktionen sorgen für Aufmerksamkeit. Interessant wird es, wenn eine Hochschule solche Angebote macht. Wie sieht es mit den gesetzlichen Rahmenbedingungen aus? Ist das sinnvoll – und glaubwürdig?

IUBH_Your Scholarship_Home

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Simone Janson Simone JansonSimone Janson is publisherGerman Top20 blogger and Consultant for HR communication.


University grants scholarship by winning

I have to admit, when I got this message, I thought “Geile Aktion” for the first time: to win a scholarship for a complete distance learning program worth 11.000 euros, who didn't want that? In detail it looks like this:

The International University of Applied Sciences Bad Honnef • Bonn (IUBH) awards a full scholarship for a postgraduate program in its programs Bachelor in Business Administration or Master in General Management.

As part of a current IUBH PR campaign, participants can win a complete distance learning course. What you have to do for that? Collect most Facebook votes. That raises questions from Sense and nonsense from social media voting to equal opportunities in education.

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Whoever gets the most votes wins

From 22. January to the 19. February may be interested in http://www.dein-stipendium.de apply. If you want to win a distance learning program worth over 11.000 euros, put yourself on the table http://www.dein-stipendium.de an applicant profile. By means of a video or photo contribution, participants then explain their motivation for winning the scholarship and put it to the vote.

“Votes” sammeln die Teilnehmer, indem sie Freunde, Familie und Bekannte via Facebook, eMail or Invite contact lists and ask them to vote for them, who gets the most votes, wins. The second and third place winners each receive high-quality technical equipment such as laptops and tablet PCs for mobile learning.

What's behind it?

All important information and the opportunity to participate can be found at http://www.dein-stipendium.de or http://www.iubh-fernstudium.de, Philipp Höllermann, project manager of the distance learning courses at the IUBH, explains the motivation of the competition: “With the 'Your Scholarship' competition, we want to enable the winner to do distance learning without having to worry about the costs. The voting system enables participants to take their future into their own hands. Because whoever can activate most supporters for the vote wins the scholarship. ”

Social media rewards self-marketing, not social communication

Almost sympathetic I find that the IUBH with its action quite openly shows the absurdity of social media votings: Instead of as a winner, who is (most passive) most Likes gets, here it is quite openly about who manages it most friends and followers to more likes to persuade.

This does not however reward the ability to social communication, which in my opinion is the basic idea of ​​social media, but the ability to market itself.

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Perfect self-marketing as a prerequisite for study

One could also criticize that a scholarship can not simply be made dependent on a few Facebook-Likes. However, the ability to market perfectly is an excellent match for the demands placed on the graduates of such courses later in their careers.

Consequently, this selection mechanism is only logical.

Equal opportunities in education?

Proponents of the method could argue that the granting of the scholarship here is more democratic than by decision of a committee - especially since the losers are free to open up further financing channels.

On the other hand, the question is how democratically a scholarship award is based on pure market mechanisms and whether it is possible in this way to assume any equality of opportunity in education.

Unusual PR actions attract attention

Or should such claims not be a paid course of study? And is there any danger that such an example will make school - especially when I think of the many interlinkages between business and universities.

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Incidentally, the IUBH is known for such exciting marketing and PR campaigns. because the Fernhochschule calls on students and those who should become, sometimes via Facebook, to suggest new locations. However, the final selection is left to the university ...


Students as customers with a say?

As far as new ideas are concerned, universities tend to belong to the heavier calibres. Students are also to be regarded as customers, but only very gradually. The idea to involve customers in the choice of location is all the more sympathetic - and not unbelievable from a marketing point of view either. Because often students choose their university as it is most practical for them according to location.

This is usually a little different at a distance learning college, but here too many people choose the location of the presence centers. The more so because many students are working and are usually tied to a specific location. This has also been understood by the International University of Applied Sciences Bad Honnef / Bonn (IUBH) and is now turning the tables:

Distance students are allowed to submit favorite locations

She calls on her distance students and all those interested in distance learning to suggest cities for study centers in Germany, Austria and Switzerland. So far, the IUBH has a network of 22 study centers in German-speaking countries, which is to be expanded in 2013

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However, suitable study sites should meet a few criteria: a site should not be too close to the existing centers and should have at least 150.000 inhabitants and / or be a center for the surrounding region.

Submit proposals, but not decide

Vorschläge nimmt die IUBH, ganz modern scheinend, auf Facebook  oder – für die Facebook-Gegner – in ihrem Forum entgegen und wird diese bei der Planung berücksichtigen. Klingt ja alles sehr Social-Media-Like.

It is a shame, however, that the students and future customers may submit ideas, but they may not then have a say in the implementation. So much customer democracy was probably too "dangerous" for those responsible.

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  1. Philipp Höllermann

    Hello Mrs. Janson,

    nice that we can create it again in their blog. Of course that is
    Competition is primarily a marketing tool with which we focus on
    unusual way of presenting as a university
    privater Fernstudienanbieter ist das nicht ganz leicht… die Alternative sind
    the well-known poster campaigns and glued buses;).

    Your criticism I can also understand a bit far: Of course it goes with
    diesem Wettbewerb um die Fähigkeit ein Anliegen (“Warum möchte ich das
    Stipendium gewinnen.”) besonders prägnant, sympathisch und/oder witzig zu
    (and therefore not for educational reasons). But I
    think also the message that is transported is quite relevant: A
    important personal concern, a vote may be essential
    influence. At the fifth point of the vote, a contribution is now available, in
    dem es um die Vereinbarkeit von Arbeit, Studium und Kindern geht… und das
    obwohl dies “nur” per Bild und Text dargestellt wird (also die Hälfte
    der Punkte pro “Vote” gibt).

    I also assume that not only direct friends, family and
    “Fans” am Wettbewerb teilnehmen, sondern auch andere Personen ihre Stimme
    and be influenced by this message. And of course
    even without a Facebook account or Twitter (the integration and use of this
    Networks is optional, not exclusive).

    Vor allem aber haben wir – soweit ich weiß – als einzige private Hochschule mit
    Remote study programs a regular scholarship program the partial and
    Full scholarships for our courses (worth about 90.000 Euro
    yearly). Here are the criteria neediness, educational career, professional
    Achievements and social commitment and are determined by the scholarship committee
    considered. That too is not democratic, but at least that's the way it is
    “gerecht” wie es in einem traditionellen Stipendienprogramm geht.

    My question would be: Do you have alternative suggestions for a
    Scholarships? :)

    Best regards,

    Philipp Höllermann
    Project manager of IUBH remote study programs

    • Simone Janson

      Hello Mr. Höllermann,
      thank you for your very interesting and differentiated comment. Yes, you always have very exciting actions. That someone 11.000 euro per Facebook Voting, is actually rather rare. That you still have a regular scholarship program, unfortunately goes a little under. And that the traditional allocation of scholarships is not necessarily more democratic, I would even agree with you.
      However, I had thought something further in the matter: Next week I will discuss in a panel of experts with Ursula Engelen Kefer, Agnes Dietzen from BiBB and Stefan Pfisterer from BITKOM on the social change from training-based occupations to competence-based activities. An important aspect of the latter, in my opinion, is the self-marketing in the form required here. That's very radical Professor Dr. Gunther Dueck, mathematician and ex-IBM manager, formulated several times, namely on the re: publica 2011 and in the Enquete Commission of the German Bundestag: Who can not network, communicate and market, falls behind. Crucial for him is that the education system is here preparatory.
      Ich stelle aber, gerade hier im Blog, immer wieder fest, dass es eine große Menge sehr intelligenter Menschen gibt, denen Selbsvermarktung einfach von der Persönlichkeit her fern ist oder die diese Form von (offenbar notwendiger) Selbstdarstellerei sogar ablehnen. Ist es daher wünschenswert, dass die Gesellschaft in diese Richtung läuft? Und wenn nicht – lässt sich dieser Trend überhaupt noch verhindern?
      I could not answer these questions clearly.

      In any case, action is a very exciting example, which will surely take up again.

      Simone Janson

    • Philipp Höllermann.

      Hello Mrs. Janson,

      Thanks also for pointing out this action.

      Sie haben natürlich recht wenn Sie ein wenig kritisch darauf hinweisen, dass wir die finale Entscheidung nicht als Abstimmung laufen lassen und somit auch nicht den Interessenten überlassen. Das hat aber weniger damit zu tun dass wir das für zu “gefährlich” halten, sondern damit dass wir ohne hohen Aufwand keine kritische Masse an Teilnehmern generieren können.

      Ein aussagekräftiges Resultat – das über reine Interessenbekundungen hinaus geht – würde mehrere dutzend bzw. im besten Falle hundert Teilnehmer voraussetzen und das ist bei einem solch speziellen Thema für uns aktuell nicht zu erreichen. Würden wir in einer solchen Situation eine verbindliche Abstimmung starten, hätten wir – neben einem hohen technischen Aufwand – am Ende eine sehr überschaubare Anzahl aktiver Teilnehmer und vermutlich eine Reihe von Zentren die sich finanziell einfach nicht tragen. Das ist dann in der Tat leider die Crux mit der “Kundendemokratie” (die ich persönlich für großartig halte und einfließen lasse wo immer es geht).

      Best Regards,
      Philipp Höllermann
      Project Leader Distance Learning at IUBH

      PS. By the way, our remote study page has its own website at www.iubh-fernstudium.de which would be better than a photo to the article :).

      • Simone Janson

        Hello Mr. Höllermann,
        thanks for your comment.
        Aus unternehmerischer Sicht kann ich das völlig verstehen: Mit der Schaffung von Fernstudienzentren sind ja auch hohe Kosten verbunden. Das ist dann auch ein anderes Kaliber als z.B. eine Pril-Flasche zu designen oder das das Facebook-Gesicht des Unternehmens zu suchen – bekannte Bsp. von Crowdsourcing-Kampagnen, die ein wenig anders liefen als gedacht.
        What always bother me a little is when companies jump onto the current crowd-sourcing trend, because it is somehow so fashionable or because they believe it is cheaper, but then do not go through to the end. In your case, however, the collection of customer feedback makes sense.

        The thing with the range I see a little in reverse: If people feel taken seriously, they are also more interested in participating in such a thing. Even with a small target group, a representative cross-section can be found. But, you are right: Something is always associated with costs, sometimes with higher costs than easy to do.

        As far as the photo is concerned: I actually searched for a nice photo of the IUHB myself, but found none. And I actually liked the colorful squares better than the green of the distance learning site ;-)

  2. pasch pasch

    Unfortunately, it is a pity that social media is not even understood by companies and universities that teach it. It could be so easy: participation + interaction = communication

    • Simone Janson

      I am surprised not to be honest. I mean: institutions and social media? Is not that a contradiction in itself?
      Otherwise, I think the basic idea of ​​social media is also great, unfortunately, it is now being used in an inflationary manner for the mechanisms described above.

    • Philipp Höllermann


      schauen Sie sich unser Community-Engagement und unsere Social Media Aktivitäten doch gerne mal an… dann werden Sie ggf. feststellen dass eine offene Kommunikation unser zentrales Anliegen ist und Partizipation ganz groß geschrieben wird. :)

      Best regards,
      Philipp Höllermann

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