MMP12: What Colleges Can Learn From The Insane Clown Posse

Karlyn Morissette 
Director of Social Media, Southern New Hampshire University

The audio for this podcast can be downloaded at

Karlyn Morissette: Before we get started, I just want to say I think I'm going to take up almost the whole 45 minutes with this presentation, so if you have questions afterwards, I'll hang around. I will be giving away books courtesy of .eduGuru. I will be giving away Faygo, if you really want some of that. So definitely stick around and ask questions afterwards if we don't get to them during the presentation.

I also want to note, there's going to be lots of websites and articles and all sorts of good stuff mentioned in this presentation. Don't worry about scribbling it down. I'm going to give you a URL at the end that has the slide deck. It's got all the information you need, so you don't have to worry about writing during the session.

All right. Who wants to know what colleges can learn from the Insane Clown Posse?


Karlyn Morissette: Whoo! Yes, Jeremy Rex! Yeah! Yes!

Backstory behind this. I'm getting married on November 5th, and we're having people wear "V for Vendetta" masks to the wedding, so in case you...

First thing people ask me, I've done this presentation a couple of times now, and the first thing I hear is, "Karlyn, you don't really listen to the Insane Clown Posse, do you?" I'm like, "Have you looked at me lately? Is this that much of a stretch?"


But, no, I've been a fan of theirs for a long time, and I have something I got my mother dig out of the basement just for this occasion. This was my graduation cap from Boston University, proud BU alum 2003. That's what I painted on it. "Insane Clown Posse", record label logo, "Psycopathic" logo. So proof positive that I have been listening to them for a very long time.

And it actually started before that. For me, it started with this guy right here. That's "The Great Milenko". It's an album they released back in 1997. They've released a bunch before that, but Insane Clown Posse had kind of a little following then. I'm a pasty white girl from Vermont. I mean, I hadn't heard about these guys until they released this album.

What happened was they were on Hollywood Records, this was a subsidiary of Disney. Disney. Insane Clown Posse. Can you see any problems that might arise here? And then I'll add to that, in '97, Disney was actually getting attacked quite a bit by the Southern Baptist Church for not being so great with family values.


In response to that, a few weeks after this album came out, they booted ICP off their record label, pulled this album from stores, cancelled the national tour. It ended up all over MTV and right into my bedroom. And my parents were thrilled, let me tell you.

So I got so into them and followed them all throughout college, got a little bit out of it after that, and then last year I saw this article in Wired Magazine, "How Two Outcast Rappers Built an Insane Clown Empire". And it's a fantastic article. Take the time to go read the whole thing because, really, you look at these guys and think, 'What the hell are they doing?' but everything they've done has been completely purposeful and it's all been for a reason.

Here's a quote from the article: "They've discovered a formula in the Internet age that the larger music world is only now waking up to: build close relationships with fans, develop ancillary profit streams, keep production and promotion costs down, turn every concert and event into an experience, even if it involves industrial soda sprayers." Mallory. Just kidding.



Karlyn Morissette: "And most of all, do everything yourself. At the end of the day, these two have become two bona fide 21st-century music magnates."

So I read that and I thought, 'Wow, there's got to be something that colleges and universities can learn from these two marketing geniuses.' So I came up with four general themes that we're going to talk about today.

Number one, know exactly who you are and never, ever apologize for it.

Insane Clown Posse is a band that you either love them or you hate them. There is absolutely no in-between. And they're completely fine with that. They've found their people. They've carved out their niche.

Most of you in the past couple of years, you may have heard of them for a little song, "Miracles". Anyone?


Karlyn Morissette: If you need a little bit of a refresher or if you haven't heard it at all, I'm going to play a quick clip for you.


[Song Clip]

Karlyn Morissette: All right. So you get the general idea there?

This video blew up all over the internet, to the extent that it was actually named Time Magazine's, one of their Top 10 viral videos of last year. And viral videos, you might've heard of them, you might not, but I think we can all agree that you've really broken into the mainstream when you're spoofed on SNL.

[Video Clip]



Karlyn Morissette: And it even got to the point where this article appeared on the front page of the Arts section of the New York Times chronicling all the parodies that Insane Clown Posse went through over this video.

Now, imagine if you will. Your college works really hard on a video. You love it, you put a lot of effort into it, lots of resources, you release it, you're so excited. And then it gets universally roasted everywhere. How is that going to go over? Well, for these guys, they understand. They get it. They said in that article, "The miracles hoopla was dope. It was all great for us."

They understand that the audience they're trying to reach isn't the ones that are panning them on SNL and they're not the ones that are saying, 'What are these two idiots in clown makeup doing?' It's the fans that get it that understand that that song was not remotely meant to be taken seriously, it was meant as entertainment.


A lot of colleges don't get that. You guys try to go after everything, you try to be everything to everyone, and it just is never going to work. But you know what? There's a really small niche of colleges that have grabbed on to this point and that really, really get it.

It's the religious schools.


Karlyn Morissette: I love the religious schools. I'm not talking your quasi-religious schools here like your Seton Halls and your Boston Colleges. I'm talking your hardcore Liberty University, BYU, Taylor University. These colleges get what it's like to market with really bold messaging that only appeals to a very small segment of people. but it's the right people, and then the people that are going to enroll at their schools.

Let's take a look at some examples.

We have this piece from Houghton College, small conservative Christian college in upstate New York, and this is actually their search piece. This is something they're buying names from the College Board and sending this out as the introduction to who Houghton is. "You can find a faith-based liberal arts education."


I'm not sure you can get much more clearer than that. You're going to know as soon as you open this whether or not that's a good school for you. If not, you're going to self-select yourself out. Houghton is not going to have to spend any more money marketing to you. That's good for the college, it's good for the students. No one's wasting their time.

Look at this example from Calvin. We've got a few pages from one of their brochures. "Find the place where God is calling you." And this next page, "Let's consider the way faith shapes our view of the world." These weren't in their Student Life book. These weren't in the little side pamphlet about religious life at the college. They weren't even in their view book. These came out of Calvin's academic brochure.

And that's very representative of the experience at Calvin. Religion is infused into absolutely every facet of their life. If you're not ready for that, even in your academic classes, you're not going to do well at Calvin, and they want you to know that right upfront.

But my favorite example of all time is from Taylor University. I actually read this magazine, this magazine's a couple of years old, it's produced by their admissions office, on my flight out to HighEdWeb '09, and in it was this ad. To this day, I think this is the greatest ad I've ever seen.


I'll zoom in on the text and I'll read it for you if you can't see it in the back. "Sleeping bags covered the floor and Nalgene bottles of every color were scattered throughout the house. Thirty-nine girls from my daughter's wing came home for the weekend. After dinner, three seniors asked for my biggest bowls to fill with water. 'Freshmen initiation,' they said. With a tinge of hesitation, I obliged. Expecting more noise, I edged past the open door. I first saw the pile of shoes in the corner, and then the row of girls. The upperclassmen were sitting in front of the freshmen, washing their feet. Ladies, the bowls in my kitchen are available any time."

I'm not a religious person at all; I find that ad to be completely moving and powerful. Now, imagine I'm a 16-year-old kid who'd be responsive to this type of school, or better yet, the parent of a 16-year-old kid. Taylor's got me right there.


I know what you're going to say. You're going to say, 'Karlyn, my school's not religious. Religion's easy. It's an easy differentiator. What about my school?' So I'll take a little bit of my own medicine here.

I work at Southern New Hampshire University. There's nothing really special about SNHU. We're a small private New England college. We have an on-campus program and an online program. Really, what's to stand out? But lately we've been toying with this idea of being a traditional university with non-traditional values.

What does that mean? We're pretty open about the fact that we have virtually an open admissions policy. We're not selective at all. You have to meet a very low bar to get into SNHU.


Karlyn Morissette: Very, very low.

But you know what? Here's the thing, guys: that's not a bad thing. And we've really embraced this idea of educating the masses, that we'll be a stronger country if everyone can receive a great education. You don't need to go to Harvard to do that. You don't need to go to an Ivy. You don't even need to go to a semi-selective school. You can get in anywhere. You can get it on campus, you can get it online.


And guess what? This has worked for us. Our campus, completely full. We do not have one empty dorm room. Online programs right now, our enrollment is two years ahead of where our projections were. People are really responding to this message. We're getting coverage everywhere. President's embraced it; he's out there talking about these new learning models that are going to educate today's working adults or your average student. Just because your kid didn't get all 'A's in high school doesn't mean they don't deserve a great college education. So we've embraced that.

Once we get them, we have to give them a great experience. And ICP are masters of creating engaging experiences.

Another quote from the article: "Perhaps the biggest surprise in Psychophatic HQ is the number of gold and platinum albums hanging on the walls. Even in the era of illegal downloads, ICP's fans still buy physical discs, which are stacked around the warehouse. That's because ICP has made their albums must-haves for fans by weaving everything from lyrics to liner notes into a supernatural epic called the 'Dark Carnival'. It's like the 'Lost' universe, except with organ music and evil jugglers."


Now, think about this. When was the last time you bought a CD?

Audience 1: 2006.


Karlyn Morissette: 2006?

I actually had to think about this for this presentation, and I came to the conclusion that the last time I bought a CD was actually an ICP CD in college. So it's true, you want to have the lyrics and the liner notes. You want to have the, in some of their albums they have 3D glasses and there were all these cool things that came with the albums that you had to have. They've got that going for them.

And if you think about what the stereotypical ICP fan is, let's be honest, it's not me. It's the hooligans you see on TV that are on Fox News every time Bill O'Reilly wants to talk about how today's youth are corrupt. They're going to be the first to download illegal music, and they're out buying these CDs.


But I think one of the greatest examples of the experience that ICP creates is the Gathering of Juggalos. Let's be honest, this is incredible. Basically, think of it as HighEdWeb for thousands of the most hardcore ICP fans out there.

It's four days. They rent a campground in the middle of Nowhere, Illinois. They have tons of shows. This past year, they had Charlie Sheen and Vanilla Ice and George Clinton and the Parliament Funkadelics, a complete random mishmash of stuff. They have professional wrestling because they own a wrestling company. It's something they really like. All sorts of activities like helicopter rides. It's insane. And thousands of people get together and they have a fantastic time.

Now, not all of us can throw events like this on our college campus, and we're all Web folks, so let's think about what we can do online to start creating these experiences.

One of the best examples I've seen lately was actually the 'Desperados experience', and this was like a skinned YouTube channel. You go in, you have to give them your age, plus your company, you tell them whether you want to party with men or women, and off you go.



Karlyn Morissette: I'm actually physically pulling that thing back and letting it go in this video.



Karlyn Morissette: That's actually my picture from my Facebook page, and then it can allow me to upload that picture to my page, share it with my friends. That's pretty cool, right? You're engaging with this video in a way that most companies don't allow you to. But not all of us, again, have the resources to build something like that.

Another example I really like is just websites that encourage me to play and click around, and I think Emerson Live is a phenomenal example of this. They're just a really engaging website. You want to click around and explore. Mike Petroff, this video didn't load when I took this video. Just duly noted. But I still wanted to refresh, and every time, it refreshed with new content and it pulled up content specifically created by Emerson students. It's a really cool thing.


Another example I really like is the Berklee Music Experience. Now Berklee has an online music program, and some people might be a little bit apprehensive about what it's like to learn music online. So again, they created this cool micro side it's fun to click around and explore, and then once you get in there, you can listen to videos about what to expect from touring musicians that are on the road doing what they do, and they're taking classes at Berklee and they're going to tell you what that's like. So a pretty cool way to get your audience engaged with learning about what it's like to go to school there.

But minimally, we can all do something like Mallory Wood did at Saint Michael's College with the 'choose your own adventure' virtual tour. Most virtual tours you find on college websites, it's a map you can click around. Mallory took it to the next step, used YouTube annotations to allow students to decide the next step in their virtual tour.


It's a simple thing. It can be done with a video camera and a little bit of time. Any of us can accomplish something like this.

The next thing you can do is ask your users to engage and give content for you. Now, sorry if you guys were in Seth's presentation and you saw this. We didn't coordinate. We probably should've. We only share an office. It's not like we ever see each other.

This is something we did at Southern New Hampshire University for commencement last year. When you went to on the day of commencement, this Flash page popped up. You had your livestream of the commencement, you had your Twitter widget.

Well, my favorite part was right over here. It seems like a normal Flickr slideshow, but what happened was we actually set up an email address, People could take pictures with their phones no matter where they were in the arena that day or even from home, send them to that email address, it would automatically upload and populate that widget, and then it would refresh every 60 seconds. I didn't have to do anything. It was fantastic.

And we actually had students, of course we had people in the arena sending photos into that account, but we had a lot of online students who couldn't make it out to graduation. They sent their photos in from home, smiling proud graduates. We're really hoping to take this to the next level this year.


And our president's a pretty cool guy and he even was a little bit inspired to get in on the social media action himself this time.

Video 1: I'm going to ask the graduates if they'll do me a favor, because I know this is really corny and some of you are going to really hate this, but hold on one second.

I've been doing backstage twittering from before...tweeting? 'Twittering' is also probably accurate. I'd like to take a picture of you guys waving to the audience and I'll put this away. Because I think this will be the first 'from the podium' tweet ever done in the history of college graduations.

So if you would just wave right now. OK, two seconds more and we'll send this, and I will lay claim to the first presidential tweet from a podium. And here we go, "From the podium, our proud graduates." And that will be out of the way, and all our social media people will be happy. There.



Karlyn Morissette: Sorry.

Entirely his idea. He actually came into my office about a week before commencement. He said, "Karlyn, I really want to tweet from the commencement podium," and I said, "Paul, if I see you with your phone out during the commencement address and you're tweeting as Jon Huntsman is giving his speech, I'm going to be really upset." He said, "No, no, no. I'm just going to take a picture and put it away."

And it's funny, because someone cheered in the audience, Seth Odell and I were like way back here in this picture and we're going crazy. We had no idea he was going to make that big a thing out of it. It was pretty cool.

Another great example, and Jeff talked about this this morning in his presentation, the Beantown Challenge. This is a really great partnership that BU did with Scavenger to create a really interactive game for their students.


It was headed up by BU's Dean of Student Life, Dean Elmore. If you're not following him, you should be, because he's doing a lot of great things. Basically he wanted to create a game. He wanted to get students involved and running around and doing different activities, and he set up a series of rewards for them. He said, "If you guys can win this game, I'm going to throw you a massive party." They responded.

So I asked Jeff from Scavenger, "What's your Number 1 takeaway from this?" and he said, "Emotional buy-in." The reason that BU trounced the other Boston-area colleges in this is they actually had 17 students that were really bought into this idea. They really wanted to have that party and they were tweeting, they were telling their friends about it, they set up a hashtag, they coordinated the community, a lot like the MBTS Twitter race. So then they had a great result and a good time.

Now, something like this could've really, really flopped for BU. This had great potential for disaster, and that's where I really wanted to get into the next lesson.

Don't be afraid to take risks. This is really important.


Now, admittedly, risks with the Insane Clown Posse is a little bit different than risks that a normal college would take, so I want to try to frame this a little bit. In my opinion, or at least what I want to frame the discussion around is the idea of having a position and sticking to it even in the face of adversity.

And a really great example that I like for this is, ICP did this interview with Bill O'Reilly several years ago. They went on this show, and you know Bill O'Reilly is going to skewer them for not being family-friendly and blah blah blah. They stood their ground, and here is what they said.

Video 2: ...talked with the Posse a short time ago.

Video 3: We're entertaining. Our only goal isn't to change the world and make everything better.

First of all, if that kid goes home and smokes crack, and actually can be programmed that easily... You know what I mean? That kid has got serious problems.

Video 4: Somebody needs to see his parents and needs to see him because he can eventually want to...

Video 3: Hey, isn't it up to parents to raise their kid?



Karlyn Morissette: I think that's one of the things I like most about that video is Bill O'Reilly's shocked face when they say, 'Your parents, you should be raising your kids, not us. We're entertainers.' And I think that that's really indicative about how ICP has approached their whole career, even going back to "The Great Milenko".

They could've very easily, after they got kicked off their record label and their tours cancelled, they're really not well-known musicians at this point, they could've easily sat back and said, 'Maybe we should tone it down. Maybe we shouldn't be pushing this so hard on all this stuff and we'll be more family-friendly and we'll make more money,' and blah blah blah. Did they do that? No. They turned up the volume. They got more extreme than they were before.

Effectively, they gave their finger to the entire music system who is trying to tell them what to do. Or maybe in ICP's case it looked a little bit more like that. But you know what? They stood their ground, they had a position, and they stuck to it.

Now, I hate to keep going back to Paul, but Paul is really one of the most amazing people to work for, I think, in higher ed. Follow him, snhuprez on Twitter, S-N-H-U-P-R-E-Z. When he gets 1,000 followers, I get a $700 pair of shoes.



Karlyn Morissette: No joke.

But he's just a really great guy, and one example of this is several months ago, he wrote a blog post. It was an open letter to a mother of a prospective student, and he basically gave an opinion that he knew was going to be unpopular but he gave it anyway. And it earned him an unsolicited shout-out on HigherEd Live, before we hired Seth, even.

Video 5: more thing I can do every week. It's called the 'Unsolicited Shout-Out of the Week' where I shout out any person, place, thing or idea for any reason because this is my show and that's what I get to do. And it's pretty fun.

So this week, a very cool shout-out goes to this guy, not because he's sitting on a stool, but actually because he is the president of Southern New Hampshire University, Paul LeBlanc, and I'm going to be sending out a link on why he is getting my Unsolicited Shout-Out of the Week.


To abbreviate it as best as I can for you guys, there was an email exchange between the president for SNHU and a prospective student's mother, or a student who had been accepted, saying she was having a hard time trying to get the money together for the deposit.

And what sparked from that was the mother asking him, 'Can you wave the deposit?' and the president actually in this conversation, very frank, saying, 'I think that if you're having a hard time paying the deposit, I'm concerned that taking on the kind of debt that a lot of universities, including SNHU, requires students to do might not be the best approach. Maybe your daughter should look into community colleges.'

And it was a very, very interesting transparent conservation where the president of a university was actually saying, 'Maybe it's best for you not to come here right now. Go to a community college and come later.' And I just think it took a lot of courage for the president of a university to actually publicly say, 'Maybe it's not in your best interest,' because there's a lot of schools out there that will do anything to get every student through the door, and I think anytime anyone's not like that and someone's looking out for the best interest of the student, whether it's their student or not, my hats off to them.

So read that article. There's a whole email exchange very...


Karlyn Morissette: There's the article. It's in "The Chronicle". And how that all occurred was Paul wrote the blog post, he tweeted it out, he's got a lot of "Chronicle" writers that follow him, and then the article came out.

That was a good outcome. That was a positive outcome. But I want to give you guys an example of when Paul's opinions can get us in a little bit of trouble.

It was Memorial Day weekend. I was taking a vacation. It was the first three day-weekend I had seriously taken in a while. I was in the White Mountains in a cabin. I even left my computer at home. That's an unheard-of act for me. So I had slept in that day, I picked up my phone like, 'Ugh, got to check my email,' just give it a once-over. I'm looking through it, seeing all these comments on our Facebook page. 'OK, what happened?'

I go in and, you know those conservative right-wing chain emails that go around that make liberals out to be crazy? And this isn't a politics thing, guys. I truly don't care. Liberals have those things, too. But Paul is a very staunch liberal, and he decided on Memorial Day to publish a blog post responding to one of the conservative chain emails that he had received.



Karlyn Morissette: And it posted to the Twitter account and it posted to the Facebook page, and it all exploded.

But you know what? I had beers with him a couple of weeks later and I said, "I love that you have an opinion, but did you have to post it on Memorial Day when all the crazies are just a little extra crazy that day?" And he admitted the timing could've probably been a little bit better.

But if this is the worst thing that happens, I think that that's a pretty fair tradeoff for having a president that isn't afraid to speak his mind and do really cool things.

But just so you think that Paul is not taking all the risks in the office, I wanted to give you guys a quick sneak preview of a project that Seth Odell and I are working on. We really want to take college marketing and look at it from a little bit of a more humorous angle, I guess.

We just shot this on Friday. This is actually me on my cellphone. Seth has much better video than this, but with the conference and everything we just couldn't get it together. But I wanted to show you guys this one quick scene.




Karlyn Morissette: This guy in the blue, by the way, that's our Director of Student Success.

This is a series that we're working on. It's a series of videos, a social media campaign called SNHUmor, S-N-H-U-M-O-R. If you go to right now, give us your email address, we'll let you know when this is launched. It's going to be a little while because we've got a lot of video to make, but trust me, guys, it's going to be awesome.


And that was a real computer, too, by the way. I know Seth would want me to point that out because he had to hunt that down.

One area that I wish college would take risks more than any other, bar none, is branding. And Fritz, you're going to like this. Anyone recognize that?


Karlyn Morissette: The D+ campaign. For those of you who aren't familiar, this was Drake University's branding attempt, I suppose...


Karlyn Morissette: ...several months back. The D+.

It doesn't really work for colleges, right? They got hammered for it, alumni, students, marketing professionals, higher ed professionals that said, 'Are you out of your minds? What are you doing?'

I read this article in AdFreak, and you know what? I'm going to make a bold argument here. I'm going to say that the D+ campaign was a good campaign. It started with this article on Adweek's blog. It said, "Our survey says that the kind of students we want to attract understand and appreciate the irony of the D+."


So the kinds of students they're going for, back to Lesson 1, they totally get it. OK, that's one step in the right direction.

They worked with STAMATS on this, and STAMATS released a statement with a little bit more information. "More than three-quarters of our respondents said the campaign was unique and grabbed their attention." All right. Well, something can be bad and still be unique and grab your attention, so that doesn't necessarily mean it worked. But then they gave us more numbers. "Campus visits are up 23%, inquiries are up 66%, and traffic to the admissions landing page more than doubled, even before it received widespread media attention."

You can't ask a branding campaign to do any more than this. It worked. So, did Drake University's president say, 'Look at these numbers. This campaign is amazing. It's doing great things for us?' No. He dropped it.



Karlyn Morissette: In this statement from Radio Iowa, he said, "We did not anticipate the intensity of concern expressed by students, faculty and alumni." Was that campaign for students, faculty or alumni? No. Exactly. It was for prospective students, and it was working for them.

And I have to wonder what would've happened if Drake University's president had just done one of these and said, 'The campaign is working. Simmer down. Let us do our jobs.' But instead, no, he acted like a nuclear bomb went off and ran away like a scared little girl.


Karlyn Morissette: It reminded me of a campaign from a school I used to work at back in the day, Norwich University, who also worked with STAMATS on this campaign, and they came up with this: "N to the Power of Infinity."

Nothing incredibly risky about that, right? It looks pretty tame. Let me give you some context: Norwich University is a military school. Does that look military to you? Do you think students and alumni liked it? No, no. They didn't like it. Websites were created, letters were written, there was a whole brouhaha. It was insane.


The president of Norwich, to his credit, did one of these. 'This isn't for you. This is for these students over here. We're not changing the school seal. We're not doing anything crazy. It's just a marketing campaign. Calm down.'

So I wondered, did "N to the Power of Infinity" actually work? I did some research and then found out that it did exactly what they wanted it to do. "Lowest acceptance rate in history," this is from last year. Applications more than doubled from 10 years ago. The campaign did exactly what it wanted to do. The president stood his ground and it worked out for them.

One of the most interesting branding campaigns that I've seen around lately is American Wonks' campaign. Anyone from American University in here? No? This is a really cool campaign, guys. Check out, this is the intro video from



Karlyn Morissette: This really cool, whimsical feel, I haven't seen a college do anything like this. You get to this page, you can click on these and see all the different American University alums, you can submit your own, you could take challenges, take quizzes, things like that.

So what do you think? Do you think that American University students and alumni responded well to this? Yes, no, maybe? Of course they didn't. Of course they didn't. "Honestly, I think it's kind of silly. I don't think it'll last very long." And this one from the student body president: "I don't know if the student body likes it as much as the marketing department."

It's a really cool campaign, though. So far, American University is doing one of these. They're saying, 'No, sorry. Not going to change it. You're going to have to learn to live with it.' And I hope that they continue to do that.


But I guess what I'm trying to say with all of this is that there's one universal truth in higher education, and that's that people are never happier than when they are pissing on the administration.


Karlyn Morissette: Look, you're going to hear about it. It doesn't matter what you do. If you're proposing something new and different and unique and something that's different than what they've done for the past 15 years, students aren't going to like it and alumni aren't going to like it. So why not go after the bold ideas? Why not take a chance?

Do your research, back it up. I'm not saying just run into something without thinking it through and just launching a campaign that isn't going to work at all, but don't be afraid to take risks. And, I guess, you've got to not be afraid to ask, 'Why not?'


Let's see. The HighEdWeb, last session of MMP. I come to HighEdWeb every year because I really find it to be the most inspiring conference that I've ever been to. I've been to tons of conferences, guys. In-industry, out-of-industry, it doesn't matter. I always walk away from this one with ideas.

This is the last session of MMP, so get the poster sessions, go into the poster sessions, and I wanted to leave you guys with a little bit of inspiration. And what better to do that than a sports analogy.


Karlyn Morissette: I bet the men in the room recognize this kid.

This is Jason McElwain. He was an autistic student at a high school in upstate New York, and he loved basketball. He played basketball all the time, practiced three hours a day in his gym, and tried to make the varsity team. Didn't make it, but they made him the manager, and came to every game.

He was excited, he was enthusiastic, he was in the moment. And the coach wanted to reward him for all his hard work by trying to give him a little bit of playing time in the last year of his senior year. Here is what happened.


Video 6: February 15th. Greece Athena against Spencerport. Senior night. With word out that Jason might play, the student section printed signs of JMac's face, just in case. And with 4:19 left in the game, with the Trojans up by 20, Coach called down to the end of the bench for Number 52.

Video 7: I just kind of turned and pointed to him, and he almost ran right on the court. He was so excited.

Video 8: "Jay, you've got to check in." So, it's the buzzer, he doesn't go anywhere. "Now you go on the court." He was so caught up in the moment.

Video 7: He came into the game, they all stood up and they put the signs, the pictures of him up, and I got really emotional and I sat down and I started to cry.

Video 6: With 3:46 left, Jason got the ball.


Video 9: When he missed that first three I was like, 'Oh, airball,' and then I was like, 'Man, I really just want to see him score one time.'

Video 7: I put my head in my hands, 'Dear God, please, just give him a basket.''

Video 6: Then with 3:12 left, another chance.

Video 8: That third trip down the court, made it.

Video 10: Threw the third, hit my first shot, I just kept shooting and I was as hot as a pistol.

Video 6: Shot after shot after shot kept going in.

Video 10: The basket was like it was big, this huge bucket. And I was shooting like they were free throws. It was just like a big old huge bucket that's like huge.

Video 9: And I was like, 'Oh, my God, is this really happening?' He has more points than me so he's got bragging rights over me.


Video 8: He was unstoppable for that moment in time. He was unstoppable.

Video 11: He comes down the court right at the end with three seconds left and he hits this one that's probably like an NBA three. As soon as the game ended, they stormed the court. I just couldn't dream anything like that.

Video 10: It felt like we won a championship. Everyone was just so happy for me.

Video 6: In that four minutes, 19 seconds, Jason was seven for 13, six of 10 from three-point range, 20 points in all. In his first and only varsity basketball game, JMac was the high scorer.

Karlyn Morissette: I love that video. I'm a girl, I don't watch ESPN, so I saw this video when my boss wanted to show it at our retreat that we had a few months back. He came down and he said, "Karlyn, I want to get this video together. I want to get people revved up and inspired."

And he told me that he actually knows Jason. He knew Jason and his family because they all live in the same town. He's in the basketball scene. And he asked him one day, he said, "Jason, how did you do it?" And Jason looked at him and said, "Why not?" as if it was that easy.


And I guess I'll leave you guys with this challenge. We put so many obstacles in our own way. 'I don't have enough time.' 'I don't have the resources.' 'The committee won't approve it.' 'My boss doesn't understand.' We put so many obstacles in our own way.

Go back to your schools, find that project that you really are excited about, you want to get off the ground, or maybe pick that one back up that stalled mid-steam. Take a hard look at it and be really honest with yourself. What obstacles are you putting in your own way to getting that done?

If you're saying, 'I don't have the time to do this. Look at all that I have on my plate,' maybe stay late at work a couple of days next week or bring your laptop home and open it up after the kids go to bed. Remove that obstacle.


Once you've done that, you've got to deal with other people. You're not the only one putting obstacles in your way for sure in higher education. But people walk away too easily. You've got to be persistent and you've got to keep at it. That kid shot baskets everyday after school for hours for years not ever having any hope that it would actually go anywhere. He was just doing what he loved to do. He was persistent.

'No' is the easiest answer in the world to give because it doesn't require thought and it doesn't require change. But you've got to keep going back saying, 'Why not? Why not? Why not?' Eventually you'll turn that 'No' into a 'Maybe'. And eventually you're turn that 'Maybe' into a 'Yes'. If you can't get there in a straight line, go around. Figure something out.

Because here is the deal, guys: if that kid can do what he did, and these two idiots can become internationally known rock stars with painted faces and spraying soda on people, not a single one of us has any excuse for achieving the goals that we want to at our colleges.


And you're not going to get a gymnasium full of people cheering for you when you complete your project and you're not going to get a stadium full of people chanting your name. What you can do is come to Milwaukee next year, tell us all about it, and every single person at this conference will be your cheering section.

So that's it. That's the presentation. Here's the contact info,, if you want all the resources from the presentation. And I guess I do have time for questions, so, shoot!

No one wants a book? Do I need to spray Faygo on you guys?


Karlyn Morissette: Don't tempt me. Then come and get it, Logan. You've got to ask your question.

Audience 2: You have to shuffle them up first, though, so...

Karlyn Morissette: I guess so.

Audience 2: Get one, Logan.

Karlyn Morissette: Go get one!



Audience 3: It sounds like you have a direct line to your president. How did that work?

Karlyn Morissette: I report to the Senior VP of Marketing at Student Recruitment and he reports to the President, but Paul is really easy to get a hold of. Anyone at the school, from the lowest person to, I mean, with students, you can email him anytime and he'll respond, or you can tweet at him and he'll say, 'Let's meet,' and 'Let's talk about it.' He'll get a cup of coffee with anyone anytime.

Again, I get that I'm really, really lucky with my president, and most of you don't have that, but he definitely does take the time to reach out.


Audience 4: What was the email/click the picture everything that you have in conservation?

Karlyn Morissette: The email? Basically we set up an email account, it was, and what Flickr does is it gives you an account that you can email pictures to that will automatically upload to your account, and we just set up a rule in Outlook and had it forward to that account and it just automatically shot them up.



Audience 5: Do you get any faculty pushback from the non-traditional?

Karlyn Morissette: Yes. Well, not much tweeting the commencement pictures. The faculty at SNHU are actually surprisingly supportive of all of this. It's just the culture that Paul has created. But even when there's pushback, one of the things that I really love about it there is that faculty do not have veto power. They don't. So we can move forward by...

Paul has gone to great lengths to hire people based on their expertise with a lot of experience. He's paying a lot of money for it. So he lets them do their jobs and run with it.


Audience 6: Is that the first year you did that streaming your commencement exercises? How were your numbers?

Karlyn Morissette: Yeah. It was the first year we did it. Seth, how many did we have watching commencement?

Audience 7: It was around a few hundred or a few thousand.

Karlyn Morissette: Yeah. For those of you can't hear, around a few hundred current with a few thousand throughout the event.

We really wanted to take advantage of the fact that Jon Huntsman was our commencement speaker and this was when there was still speculation if he was going to run for President, and we're in New Hampshire so we get to do all the cool political stuff.


Yeah, that was the first year we did it. It actually got organized very, very quickly and we really want to do a whole much, much bigger thing this year.


Audience 8: You've given us all the challenge. So what's the project that you've done where you felt that you really pushed the envelope for yourself?

Karlyn Morissette: SNHUmor is going to be, it's seriously, and one thing I'll say about that is we warned, we are still in the process of warning, I guess, a lot of people that there is going to be a lot of negative pushback to that.

We're fully expecting negative pushback from alumni and current students, and I think once the project launches, we're going to see it and we're going to feel it and people are going to understand it in a whole new way, but really trying to get people to understand that it's a very vocal minority and that really the benefit of it is going to be in the increased brand awareness we're going to get from it.

Back there, Curtis?


Audienc 9: I was just curious, going back to the Flickr thing but also with this SNHUmor and all that kind of stuff, do you have folks around your campus where they're basically supportive of this just being open, or do you have people, especially higher up in the administration, who are concerned about, 'You need to censor that kind of stuff' and all that?

Karlyn Morissette: Yeah. We definitely do have people that are concerned about why we are doing this. But, again, because Paul has a very open policy and I work for probably one of the most forward-thinking marketers in higher ed, they're pretty good about squelching that very, very quickly.

I think I've got time for one more question. Yeah?

Audience 10: I've heard a lot in our own branding efforts that internal marketing is important and word-of-mouth is important, and so branding is to be embraced by your students and faculty and alumni, and it seems with these examples you're saying, well, not necessarily. I just want to get your comment on that.

Karlyn Morissette: Well, I think that you can't expect it to be embraced immediately, because people don't like change as a general rule. But if you just, if you stand behind it, people will embrace it eventually. I mean, it only takes four years to get a cycle of students through school, in theory.



Karlyn Morissette: Every four years, you've got a whole new crop of students and they don't know anything that's any different.

You're always going to have those people that are vocal that don't like it, but I think you'll find that most of the people that aren't saying anything, they probably either are embracing it or they don't care, but you're only going to hear from the people that hate it.

All right, anyone that asked me a question, if you want one of these books or a Faygo, come up and grab it, and I'll hang around a little bit for people who didn't get to have their questions answered.