How can NRENs attract the right staff? How to build and manage a brand towards different target groups and especially towards potential job candidates? This was a major focus when the GÉANT Special Interest Group on Marketing Communications – SIG-Marcomms – met recently.
The meeting, which was hosted by RENATER in Montpellier, France, on 17-18 September, included an afternoon joint meeting with SIG-MSP – the Management of Service Portfolios group. The event featured a hands-on workshop in which participants learned how to make small social-media-friendly videos on smart phones. There was also a thank you to Gitte Kudsk of DeiC (Denmark) and Maria Ristkok of EENet of HITSA (Estonia) who are stepping down from the group’s steering committee after many years of commitment.
A presentation from Alice Thorel of RENATER (France) on ‘focusing on the end-user’ kicked off a first ‘buffet’ of short presentations on a wide range of topics, which continued into the morning of the second day. The RENATER presentation prompted discussion about whether national research and education network organisations (NRENs) are trying to ‘sell products’ or to do marketing around providing solutions for users’ problems. Robert Haymon-Collins of Jisc (UK) went into more detail about the latter approach, which has been used to make Jisc’s overhauled online space feel more personal. A new PRACE website was presented, by Marjolein Oorsprong, and Goran Medenjac of ARNES (Slovenia) picked up on the data analytics topic that had surfaced in previous meetings by diving into the web analytics tool used by ARNES. Participants also heard GÉANT Project updates, about developments to Cloud services, the new Trust and Identity Mentorship Programme, and to the GÉANT and community news channels.
Tamara Gvenetadze of GRENA (Georgia) gave an overview of recent cybersecurity activities and the visibility that they have gained for the NREN. This resonated with a discussion about October being cybersecurity month, with Charlie van Genuchten of SURF (Netherlands) seeking ideas for how NRENs may draw attention to this.
Marina Sahakyan of ASNET-AM (Armenia) showed how the Enlighten Your Research programme that SURF originated has been used in Armenia to promote the NREN’s services, leading to collaborations and visibility that contribute to the organisation’s long-term sustainability. Her colleague Naira Kocharyan discussed the challenges and results of work to brand this year’s Eastern Partnership E-infrastructures Conference – EaPEC 2019 – hosted by ASNET-AM on 25-26 September.
The branding theme included a presentation by GÉANT graphic designer Andrea Meloni, who gave advice about how to think visually. But the main sub-theme was recruitment branding, with experiences drawn from CSC (Finland), Belnet (Belgium) and GÉANT. Discussions concluded that Human Resources teams are a company’s gatekeepers when recruiting staff, but they need to work closely with their marcomms colleagues to successfully brand the company in ways that will appeal to different target audiences among potential staff who may be at different life and career stages and can bring different skills and perspectives to the company.
The branding theme showed that there is much more than ‘just a logo’ to consider, with the target audience always being the most important factor in any planning. The theme continued in the afternoon joint meeting with SIG-MSP – please read the complementary SIG-MSP blog to find out more!
The hands-on video-making session that started the meeting was prepared by Dimple Sokartara of GÉANT. The video resources are available via the meeting schedule (wiki) for anyone who wants to try following the self-help (video) instructions. A few of the resulting test videos are also available via the schedule just as examples. The session was generally considered to be fun and useful and sparked some discussion about NRENs’ use of videos and about other topics for future workshops and meetings.
The date and location of the next SIG-Marcomms meeting, in spring 2020, are still to be decided. New members of the SIG-Marcomms steering committee will be announced soon and will immediately begin work on planning this and other future meetings. Slides and additional resources from the Montpellier meeting are available on the wiki agenda page.