It is that time of year again and holiday greetings are featured on college and university web sites all over the higher ed world.

happy hol

This “Best of 2014” list offers up a showcase of my personal favourites of these creative and compelling seasonal vignettes. My results are certainly subjective, non-scientific, and highly prejudiced by my personal tastes. Having said that, I do try to be fair and consistent in my approach as to who gets considered for the list.  First of all, I believe to get on to a “best of” list you need to be find able (or in other words optimized for SEO), so my search criteria was to search on “college holiday greeting 2014” and “university holiday greeting 2014”  and then review the top 10 pages for each search. As a result, this approach included almost 200 examples as my baseline. I will admit that very slow loading pages may have been dropped from my consideration due to my impatience. This year, I also decided to go back to the winning schools on my 2013 list and include them in the review as well.

From a marketing point of view this research has provided a few qualitative insights. My “categories” are holding up reasonably well and most schools seem to choose to try and address one or in a few cases, two of these general approaches in their greetings. The distribution remains roughly the same as it was last year with respect to media format, that being  roughly equivalent on video versus animation. Flash mob greetings, the rage in 2012 are now pretty much passe. I did not find even one example. I noticed a new style of greeting this year that I have not seen in the past, that being, the Old Versus the New Greeting, where historical images/aspects of a school are highlighted versus their current counterparts. My favourite holiday greeting this year, from Wellesley College, used this approach. Schools that produced high quality greetings last year tended to repeat the effort this year but surprisingly a few dropped off the lists completely and could not be found, even with a branded search for them. Staff turnover in marketing departments or reduced budgets might explain this surprising turn.

As a result of this research, I am once again humbled and reminded by the amazing creativity and talent of the higher ed marketing community that produces these wonderful pieces. Well done and congrats to the following “Best of 2014” inductees!

My Favorite Holiday Greeting of 2014 – Wellesley College

Best Christmas Carol-based Greetings – Everett Community College

Best Short Greetings –

– William and Mary

– West Virginia UniversityWVA

Best Advent Calendar (sort of) Greeting – Ashland University

Best Campus Promo-Style Greeting – Sam Houston State University

Best Xmas Tree Lighting Greeting – Delta College

Best Multi-Language Greeting: Simon Fraser University

Best Greeting E Card: Penn StatePenn

Best President’s Message Greeting – Kent State University

Best Sincere and Heartfelt Message – University of Illinois

I hope you have enjoyed this list. I do quite enjoy putting it together and it certainly helps me to get into the holiday spirit.  If I have not included yours, I offer apologies, as I had limited time to conduct my review and of course, had to pick only a few favourites. Let me know what you think of my choices and please add links to your own greetings in your comments so we can collect even more examples here.

Happy Holidays!