Spotlight on Ian Bartlett
6 September 2012
This week the spotlight is on Ian Bartlett, Head of Publications and Marketing Services, Communications and Marketing Office.
What is your role and what does it involve?
Publications and Marketing Services (PAMS) is responsible for co-ordination and delivery of UCL’s student recruitment communications. As Head of Publications and Marketing Services, my role is to oversee the development of a range of marketing services which support departmental and faculty initiatives and UCL’s agreed objectives related to the recruitment of students.
PAMS’ range of services includes:
- production of UCL's core student recruitment materials and content
- ensuring that the quality of UCL's student recruitment output is consistent with UCL’s status as an internationally renowned and globally important university
- assisting UCL in achieving objectives surrounding its student profile by development and implementation of a graduate marketing strategy
- ensuring UCL’s student recruitment communications are effective and efficient by co-ordinating activity at central and departmental level.
The team provides prospective students with the information they require about UCL and its degrees at the time they want it and in the format they prefer. This represents the first stage of the student experience and is a considerable challenge as the digital world is constantly evolving while demand for printed materials is adapting rather than reducing so I have to stay on my toes.
With the recent funding and structural changes to UK higher education, it is increasingly important that UCL is able to convey a clear, co-ordinated message about the high quality of education that is available here. PAMS-produced content is, more often than not, prospective students’ first point of contact with UCL so we must be certain that our communications present UCL in a manner that meets the expectations our reputation creates.
My role is very enjoyable; I get to meet with many people and the rapid pace of change in the communications world makes this a particularly exciting time to be working in this field.
How long have you been at UCL and what was your previous role?
This makes me feel old! I’ve been working here since November 1992 so I’ll have been here for 20 years on 11 November this year.
That said, I’ve held a number of different roles here, so it’s not like I’ve been in the same job since day one. I have always worked in student recruitment roles, starting in the then Admission and General Enquiries Office (also known as the Friends’ Room), progressing through various roles until taking on management of the Prospective Students website and later taking responsibility for print and web-based student recruitment communications. The PAMS team was set up in 2010 following a restructure during which I was appointed to the post of Head of PAMS.
Surprisingly, my first degree in Transport has proved to be more relevant to this role than I would have thought. An understanding of networks and organisational structures has proved to be very helpful for ensuring that our communications output is co-ordinated and effectively interlinked. This is especially important as new channels and formats develop and their adoption by UCL becomes part of prospective students’ basic expectations.
What working achievement or initiative are you most proud of?
This would have to be the Master’s degree in Electronic Communications and Publishing that I took here at UCL and graduated from last September (2011). This led to me leading a major change in the PAMS team system for production of student recruitment communications which has radically improved the service PAMS offers to prospective students and colleagues at UCL.
For my dissertation, I examined the relationship between web and print-based materials and their suitability for use as part of a student recruitment communications strategy. As a result, I led the move of all PAMS’ student recruitment-focused degree programme content into a database to provide a single source of content. This is used to publish existing print and web-based materials such as the Undergraduate Prospectus, but also enables us to produce new materials when they are required using the same data; e.g, the range of A4 PDF degree programme brochures..
Perhaps the greatest advantage for UCL as a whole is derived from our ability to feed this core student recruitment content into department and faculty websites, potentially saving hours duplicating work for production of these sites. A simple data link allows content to be pulled directly from our database into another website. Further, department-generated, content can still be added to the site, but core content – entry requirements, programme structure, application details etc. – is updated centrally, so is consistent across the entire UCL website. This is a vital improvement as students access our student recruitment content via an increasing number of channels and as our competitor institutions improve their own information provision.
The entire PAMS team has been exceptional in its constructive approach to implementing and delivering what has been a very radical change to traditional processes.
Details of the setup can be found
on the PAMS website.
What is your life like outside UCL?
I live in Chesham, Buckinghamshire, with my wife Jenny who is an ex-UCL employee. Chesham is a pleasant place to live and, as it’s located on the Metropolitan line, it is very convenient for getting to and from Euston Square.
My hobbies include rock music; I’ve followed the band Marillion since the mid-1980s which is rather like belonging to a secret club; lots of people follow them but not many admit to it! However, I know there are a few loyal supporters working here at UCL as I see them at gigs...
I still have an interest in the politics and developments surrounding public transport, particularly in the London area; the Olympics has seen the delivery of huge transport improvements in London and, when I look back to the 1980s when public transport projects often struggled to get funding, it is hard to comprehend the scale of the infrastructure upgrades either now in place or under construction.
With regard to the Olympics themselves, as well as being delighted by the event itself, I cannot fail to be impressed by the creation of the Olympic Park. My father was from Stratford and to see the old, rundown railway lands turned into something as breathtaking as the Olympic Park really is a massive achievement. As UCL seeks to develop a potential additional campus in Stratford, one only has to look across to the Olympic Park to be inspired by what has been achieved there.
I am a regular user of Twitter and enjoy taking part in the lively discussions it can generate. I believe Twitter has huge potential for improving communications within organisations provided it is used carefully. I am interested to experiment with using Twitter to improve PAMS’ communications with colleagues across UCL, so do please look out for @pams_ucl.