Colleges and the COVID-19 Spring 2021 Outlook

Colleges and COVID-19
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After one of the strangest semesters colleges have ever experienced, schools begin to put together their spring plans with careful attention and caution. Life is adjusting for colleges and the COVID-19 impacts. There is not a clear trend in schools deciding to open their doors to their students again or to remain online. One common thread is spring break plans. Many schools have made the decision to cancel their spring break. Instead, schools added another week onto the end of winter break. This decision parallels many schools’ decision to continue virtually after Thanksgiving break. They hope to slow and prevent the spread of the virus. It is hard to know for certain at this point what percentage of students will remain virtual. Advertisers should keep strategies in mind for either outcome.

On-campus Media Approach

If the spring semester brings students back to their campuses, it would be wisest of advertisers to put their efforts into postering and out-of-home advertisements. Students may be returning to their schools for the first time since March. They will be thrilled to be back and will likely be spending as much time on campus as possible. Postering in high traffic areas such as residential common spaces, libraries, or student centers around campus will be highly effective. For city schools or schools with a less defined campus, out-of-home advertising may be the choice to opt for this spring. Ads placed in transit areas or on billboards are another great option for these schools.

Virtual University Media Approach

However, there is a chance that many schools may not feel ready to open their doors and will remain online for another semester. In this case, digital, mobile, and email advertisements should be the prioritized medium. As we have mentioned in a previous post, college students who have stayed home this semester are missing their friends and their campus and are likely active on their schools’ social media or their campus newspaper. Instagram ads and social influencers are a great way to connect with college students. Additionally, college newspapers are a great way to reach the campus population. It offers the perk of utilizing a source they know and trust.

While we can hope things begin to return to normal in 2021, advertisers should be prepared for schools opening or for lockdowns in the spring semester. Colleges will continue to adapt to COVID-19. As we have been dealing with this unprecedented virus for nearly eight months, we feel prepared to deal with any new developments this spring semester throws at us.

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