February 2, 2023 (Washington, D.C.) — Answering a call from higher education for more data-driven insights to guide decision-makers and strategic planners, RWJ Research, a new sub-brand of the RW Jones Agency led by Kevin Swartout, Ph.D., will provide timely, actionable new data analysis as part of the company’s client offerings to colleges and universities.
“Kevin Swartout possesses deep academic expertise on the psychology of decision-makers, understanding hidden influencers and gathering data that offers comprehensive insight into people’s thinking and motivation. That’s what higher education needs at the moment,” said Sean Rossall, CEO and managing partner of the RW Jones Agency. “At a time when far too many campuses are abandoning what makes them distinctive in a belief that they are being responsive to market demands, RWJ Research will help clients highlight their distinction, act in line with their values and attract the types of individuals who will feel authentically at home at their particular institution.”
Swartout and his team of research experts will collaborate with client stakeholders to identify research questions, design surveys, focus groups, and other trusted forms of research, and select the desired audiences to study. RWJ Research will build a strong and sustainable bridge that spans higher education research and social science literature, theory, methodologies and analyses, bringing a level of scientific rigor and sophistication not commonly seen in the space. Specifically, Swartout and his team will rely on their expertise in psychological and sociological theory to provide insights across organizational levels. All research projects include assessment implementation plans, a well-defined assessment strategy and output that includes data findings and recommendations.
“Our approach is tailored to each client’s needs, but, in general, our work will help clients unearth missed opportunities to reach a new audience or to showcase a new message that expands engagement,” said Swartout. “We will partner closely with admissions, advancement and marketing and communications leaders to develop research instruments that allow us to measure the impact of new practices, policies, pricing and other key factors that go into understanding and bolstering relationships with key audiences.”
RWJResearch clients will have access to:
- Research and recommendations on alumni engagement, including audits of existing engagement across college and university offices.
- Assessment of college and university brand awareness and perception through qualitative, quantitative and mixed-methodology studies.
- Price sensitivity research specific to college and university tuition with a focus on potential impacts to applicant pools and strategic communication support related to any implemented tuition changes.
- Audit of existing enrollment messaging and communications flow to inform broader strategy across the full enrollment lifecycle.
- Market demand, viability and program assessment of college and university programs and audiences.
- Cutting-edge analytic methodologies and tools that can uncover cohesive subpopulations representing diverse groups that were not previously identified.
Joining Swartout at RWJ Research is a dedicated team of research experts, including Jess Neumann-Kersten and Victoria Cabal. An account director at RW Jones Agency, Neumann-Kersten earned her master’s and Ph.D. at the University of Denver in communication studies. Cabal, who earned her doctorate in education at the University of Utah, specializes in evaluating institutional approaches to student success and access.
“We are thrilled to offer brand research and other quantitative and qualitative research to support clients,” said Scott Willyerd, RW Jones managing partner. “Most research falls short of reflecting the specific realities of higher education and the deeply personal decision-making process of selecting an institution to attend.”
With the launch of RWJ Research, the RW Jones Agency continues to evolve in its fourth decade. Begun by Richard W. “Dick” Jones in 1987 as Dick Jones Communications, the agency has grown from a marketing and media-relations support provider into a full-service strategic consultancy of nearly 30 professionals with expertise in everything from answering pressing research questions on college campuses to social media strategy to crisis communications. To learn more about the nation’s leading strategic consulting firm focusing on communications and engagement for colleges and universities, visit www.rwjonesagency.com.