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

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Unusual PR campaigns attract attention. It gets interesting when a university makes such offers. What about the legal framework? Does that make sense - and credible?

IUBH_Your Scholarship_Home

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Simone Janson Simone JansonSimone Janson is publisherConsultant and head of the Institute's job pictures Yourweb.


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 PR campaign by the IUBH, participants can win a complete distance learning course. What you have to do for that? Most facebook-Gather notes. That raises questions of the 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.

The participants collect “Votes” by sending them to friends, family and acquaintances 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 the fact that a scholarship cannot simply be obtained from a few facebook-Likes may be dependent. However, the ability to market oneself perfectly fits in perfectly with the demands placed on 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 distance university calls on students and those who are to become one, sometimes via Facebook to propose new locations. The final selection, however, 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

The IUBH accepts suggestions, seemingly very modern, on Facebook  or - for the Facebook- Opponents - in their forum and will take them into account when planning. It all sounds very 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
    private distance learning providers are not that easy ... the alternative
    the well-known poster campaigns and glued buses;).

    Your criticism I can also understand a bit far: Of course it goes with
    this competition for the ability is a concern (“Why do I want that
    Win a scholarship. ”) Particularly concise, personable and / or funny
    (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
    which is about the compatibility of work, study and children ... and that
    although this is “only” represented by images and text (i.e. half
    which gives points per “vote”).

    I also assume that not only direct friends, family and
    “Fans” participate in the competition, but other people also cast their votes
    and be influenced by this message. And of course
    even without facebook-Account or Twitter (the integration and use of this
    Networks is optional, not exclusive).

    But above all - as far as I know - we are the only private university with us
    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
    "Fair" as it goes in a traditional scholarship program.

    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 nuanced comment. Yes, you always have very sensational promotions too. That someone 11.000 euros per FacebookVoting is actually rather rare. Unfortunately, the fact that you still have a regular scholarship program is neglected a little. And I would even agree with you that the traditional awarding of scholarships is not necessarily more democratic.
      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.
      But, especially here in the blog, I keep finding that there are a large number of very intelligent people who are simply far from self-marketing in terms of their personality or who even reject this form of (apparently necessary) self-expression. Is it therefore desirable for society to move in this direction? And if not - can this trend still be prevented?
      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.

      You are of course right if you point out a little critically that we will not let the final decision run as a vote and therefore not leave it to the interested parties. But that has less to do with the fact that we consider it too “dangerous”, but rather with the fact that we cannot generate a critical mass of participants without great effort.

      A meaningful result - which goes beyond mere expressions of interest - would require several dozen or, in the best case, XNUMX participants and that is currently not possible for us with such a special topic. If we were to start a binding vote in such a situation, we would have - in addition to a high technical effort - in the end a very manageable number of active participants and probably a number of centers that are simply not financially viable. Unfortunately, that is the crux of the matter with “customer democracy” (which I personally think is great and flow into it wherever possible).

      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.
        From an entrepreneurial point of view, I can fully understand that: the creation of distance learning centers is associated with high costs. That is then a different caliber than, for example, designing a Pril bottle or the Facebook- Looking for the face of the company - well-known example of crowdsourcing campaigns that went a little differently than expected.
        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


      Take a look at our community engagement and our social media activities ... then you may find that open communication is our central concern and participation is very important. :)

      Best regards,
      Philipp Höllermann

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