Heist hat-trick for University of Stirling

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Communications, Marketing, Digital team celebrate at the Heist Awards.
The University's Communications, Marketing and Web teams celebrate their Heist hat-trick.

The University of Stirling has netted a hat-trick at the prestigious Heist Awards, which celebrate excellence and innovation in education marketing.

The "Recruiting the 12th man" communications and marketing campaign - which marked the University Football Club's historic run to the fourth round of the Scottish Cup earlier this year - won gold for Best Low Budget Initiative and bronze for Best Use of Content.

There was also recognition for the Web Team's innovative redevelopment of the University website's search function, as that project - built in-house using the Squiz Funnelback search platform - won bronze for Most Effective Use of Digital or Social.

The Heist hat-trick comes just weeks after "Recruiting the 12th man" won Marketing / Public Relations Campaign of the Year at The Herald Higher Education Awards and Low Budget Campaign at the Public Relations and Communications Association (PRCA) DARE Awards. It is also in the running for the Integrated Campaign Award at the PRCA Platinum Awards, in September.

Jennifer Harrison, Executive Director of Communications, Marketing and Recruitment at the University, said: "Congratulations to everyone who was involved in the planning and delivery of these creative and impactful projects, which delivered phenomenal results for the University.

"We are incredibly proud of our three Heist Awards, as well as those received at The Herald Higher Education Awards and PRCA DARE Awards last month - it is well-deserved recognition for our fantastic Stirling team."

Recruiting the 12th man

A collaboration between the University’s communications, marketing, social media, sport, and alumni teams and the Students’ Union, the multifaceted "Recruiting the 12th man" campaign received widespread coverage. BBC Sportscene, BBC Reporting Scotland and STV News were among the mainstream media outlets to cover the story, and the campaign helped drive more than 1,000 Stirling supporters to the historic match in Dundee.

The campaign was enhanced by a celebrity film fronted by football legends Sir Alex Ferguson, Lilian Thuram and Craig Brown, and also included a cinematic-style promotional film featuring striker Cameron McKinley, and another with ‘good luck’ messages from students/staff.

National print media covered the campaign extensively, while prominent sports website The Athletic published a long-read piece after embedding themselves with the team in the week running up to the game.

Website search redevelopment

The website search redevelopment involved the launch of an innovative website search tool which transformed how prospective students discover content. Delivered in-house, building on the Squiz Funnelback search platform, the enhanced search experience has increased traffic to course pages by 22% and improved overall engagement, with more relevant search results leading to a 20% increase in the time users spent on the website. 

It has also driven a 400% increase in views of key student recruitment information such as Clearing and scholarships, and created new opportunities to surface contextually relevant content.

In addition to the in-house development undertaken to deliver the initial project, the implementation of this new platform gives a strong foundation for future opportunities to support user journeys on the website.