The Challenge of Depth vs. Breadth in Education

June 22, 2022

Of all the challenges that we encounter when speaking with colleagues across education, the tussle between depth and breadth is one that comes up frequently. 

It’s not just education or film and photography of course. How often have fellow marketers asked the perennial question, who is your target audience? Only to be told, it’s everyone (or something so vague it might as well be!)

The challenge in education is that in many ways, what you do is broad. Multiple academic disciplines, probably some research if you’re in HE and don’t forget the community engagement. 

Then there is the word that comes up time and again in discussions, Politics! Whenever someone mentions the P word we give an understanding nod, because we really do get it. There is often a perceived need to not upset anyone by highlighting everyone. It’s the communications equivalent of “everyone gets a medal”. But ultimately this approach is flawed. 

With strong leadership, either from within and/or from above the comms team, these battles can be won. Everyone wants to have, or be featured in, the shiny video or hero shot on the homepage, but it usually dilutes the impact of what you’re trying to achieve. Great movies aren’t usually littered with protagonists and subplots. If they are, they often have a good three hours to tell their story. For us, three minutes is probably too long! 

So here’s my solution, go broad in your long term content strategy and planning, but go deep in execution. Don’t commission one film trying to tell your whole story, let it evolve over time through compelling stories from across the organisation. The overarching themes will emerge and the true character and distinctiveness of your school, college or university will be there for all to see. Challenge colleagues to find great stories, the heroes and journeys that will move enquirers to applicants and applicants to students. 

The key message that education leaders and communications teams must understand is  that breadth informs people but depth moves people. At its best, moving people is what our film & photography is all about.