Engaging prospective students amid a changing landscape

Jett Nilprabhassorn

Editor’s note: Duck of the Week is a new section in Around the O Workplace that highlights the exceptional work of UO employees during COVID-19. Each story features an interview with one employee, in his or her own words, with light editing for clarity and length only.

Jett Nilprabhassorn
Associate Director for Strategic Communications and Marketing

How long have you worked at the UO?

I started in in May of 2010 so it's been about 10.5 years now.

Tell us about your work:

I help oversee the day-to-day work of our team in strategic communications for Student Services and Enrollment Management. I work heavily with admissions, financial aid and student orientation. Those are three of the biggest front-facing departments in terms of student recruitment.

A lot of work I do is managing our customer relationship management (CRM) tool, which our entire division uses heavily for communicating with prospective students, parents, and high school counselors; for promoting and managing events; managing decisions; and a lot more. In August, our division launched a brand-new CRM system called Slate, which has really streamlined our work and enhanced our ability to communicate with our different audiences. It was a lot of work on our team to implement the CRM in a very short amount of time, but the payoff in the end has been amazing – especially in a time when we’re having to solely recruit students remotely.

Our team also works with Student Life programs like the Student Recreation Center, Career Center, EMU, and many other departments, to support them in communications and marketing so current students are having the best possible experience as a Duck.

It's really a team effort. We have an amazing and talented staff of designers, writers, photographers/videographers, developers, and student creatives that all work together to make the university look good.

What does your workday look like?

Our communications strategies follow a recruitment cycle and so, for the most part, we can plan our tactics for the year. But, when the pandemic hit last spring, we were changing the game plan a lot. For example, last year admissions moved the May 1 confirmation deadline to Sept. 1 to meet the needs of families affected by COVID-19. It stretched our yield strategies out an extra four months during a time when we’d solely be focused on promoting IntroDUCKtion and preparing our comms strategies for the next recruitment cycle. 

We’re still learning a lot and discovering new tactics for marketing and recruiting students in a virtual environment. Our team has worked closely with admissions, student orientation, housing, and financial aid, to offer virtual events, one-on-one Zoom sessions, and other online avenues for prospective students to get the information they need to consider becoming a Duck.

While it’s been a lot of work to implement these new tactics, it’s actually also forced us to think outside of what we’ve normally done. It’s added new tools to our toolbelt for recruitment that we’ll still be using once we’re on the other side of this pandemic.

What do you like about working at the UO?

I’ve always liked walking around campus and seeing students being engaged in the world around them. Whether they’re having a deep discussion with their peers about what’s happening in the news, putting themselves out there by performing a song in front of the EMU, or are just showing their school spirit at a pep-rally, I remember that the work we’re doing every day is to give them a chance at experiences like that here at the UO.

What is keeping you motivated during this challenging time?

A driving factor is just really trying to attract the best students and getting them to see that the University of Oregon is the place to be. It’s a great place for a lot of people –  high-caliber academics, great student life. I think people can come here, grow and learn, and leave here successful.

What is something people may not know about you?

Usually I’d be playing ice hockey or coaching special needs players during my free time. However, with the pandemic, the rink has been shut down. So, I’ve turned to my other hobby. I have a pretty large LEGO collection. In a time when we’re constantly having to be creative, sometimes it’s nice to just follow a set of instructions, put a bunch of colorful plastic bricks together, and in a matter of time have built something really cool. I also studied and worked professionally as an interior architect before this job.

Jett is a part of Student Services and Enrollment Management and University Communications.

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