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Gower College Swansea wins Silver at the CMN FE First Awards 2024

The Marketing and Communications department at Gower College Swansea has been awarded with Silver for the category of Social Media and Digital Impact at the College Marketing Network’s FE First Awards 2024.

Hosted by the College Marketing Network, the event brought together hundreds of industry professionals to celebrate excellence in Further Education marketing across the UK.

This prestigious national event unfolded at the Crowne Plaza in Birmingham Centre, and it is the only one of its kind to solely celebrate marketing in the further education arena showcasing the exceptional efforts of colleges and sixth forms across the country.

The College’s win was based on its school leavers’ summer recruitment campaign, which aimed to boost enrolment rates and increase student numbers for the academic year 2023/24. This campaign supported and reflected the College’s strategic plan, and its objectives encompassed raising awareness, attracting interest and enhancing reputation.

“I am immensely proud of our Marketing and Communications team for their win at the CMN FE First Awards. This achievement recognises the creativity and dedication of our Marketing and Communications team on a national scale. This multi-dimensional campaign has influenced both our enrolment rates and strengthened our institution’s reputation", said Kelly Fountain, Principal of Gower College Swansea.

Speaking about the award, Marie Szymonski, Marketing and Admissions Manager said: “Receiving this award for our impactful marketing campaign is a really proud moment, highlighting the dedication and expertise of our fantastic team. Their relentless efforts and creativity have truly paid off, and I couldn't be more thrilled to congratulate them on this well-deserved achievement."

The campaign was a fully bilingual multi-dimensional integrated campaign including a mix of offline and online activity. These included organic and paid digital campaigns across platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, TikTok, Snapchat, Youtube, TV and Spotify. Additionally, it included out of home advertising (including billboards, bus rears, digital screens), PR, video, radio, open evening events, a reduced sustainable school leavers' guide and other ad hoc events to increase brand awareness. Some of these included: Krazy Races in Swansea City Centre with over 15,000 attendees, the Big Yellow Bus initiative visiting Swansea’s secondary schools and the participation in the Swansea Comic and Gaming Convention.

Laura Blanco Alonso, Commercial Marketing Specialist said: “We are thrilled to win this award, and it was a fantastic event celebrating the hard work of marketing professionals in the FE sector. It underscores the importance of creating well-crafted bilingual multi-channel campaigns integrating innovative approaches that not only engage, but also deliver measurable impact. The College’s marketing team, formed by seven team members, do an incredible job within a very complex and high-pressure industry, with multiple target audiences, complex funding and tight budgets.”

(For the full list of award categories and winners, please click here.) 

The campaign utilised the College’s “Good to Go” slogan. The concept highlights Gower College Swansea as the benchmark for student success in their future pathways with a nod to the Gower College Swansea’s Guarantee. The “Good to Go” slogan is divvied into 3 phases (Get ready / Get Set / Good to Go) highlighting themes specific to important dates throughout the academic calendar and providing key information to target audiences.

A key innovative aspect in the School Leavers’ Summer Recruitment Campaign 23/24 was the 'Big Yellow Bus' campaign, an engaging multi-channel strategy that utilised a branded American style school bus for secondary school visits, engaging content, and partnerships with media outlets, like Wales Online and The Wave radio. This innovative approach facilitated direct interactions with prospective students and heightened brand visibility, generating positive feedback and community engagement.

The campaign exceeded expectations at increasing number of enrolments and surpassing industry benchmarks in key metrics for its digital campaign. Impressively, the campaign had an average click-through rate of 7.75% to the College's website, exceeding industry standards of 0.90% and significantly amplifying awareness while stimulating conversions and applications. Strategic targeting, engaging content, and diversified marketing channels led to a robust awareness increase, heightened interest among parents and school leavers, and a strengthened institutional reputation.