We have been working on a couple of different video production projects for MIT’s admissions office, and the first of the videos was posted to their site earlier this week.
In our pre-production conversations with the admissions folks, one of the things they made clear was that they wanted the video to really focus on debunking misperceptions of MIT, versus extolling what the Institute offers. In other words, rather than showing off really cool labs, they wanted the video to help the audience understand that MIT is not just about math and science; students have a diversity of interests, backgrounds and talents.
Nonetheless, some of the response to the video has been: “Why didn’t you show off the awesome science going on here?” What is telling, though, is who are the people voicing these comments. From a limited sample, it appears that it is current MIT students and alums. And this isn’t surprising – they are proud to be members of a community whose scientific research has made significant contributions to the world and feel that a promotional video ought to be communicating that.
On the other hand, the people who seem to have expressed the most appreciation for the video are prospective students. Their response has been more like: “I feel like I could belong at MIT.” This is exactly what the admissions office was striving for. They told us repeatedly, “Everyone knows how great MIT is for science. We don’t need to tell anyone that. We need to tell prospective students that there is a place here for everyone.”
Conclusion? Know your audience and speak to them. Don’t worry about the others. You can’t please everyone!