Research Database

The social marketing messenger is as important as the message: Learnings from a case study of widening participation in Australian higher education

Type of Publication: Journal article

Lead Organisation: NCSEHE

Year Published: 2019

Lead Researcher: Maria Raciti

Maria Raciti and Joshua Dale

Published in AASM Viewpoint Vol. 8, No. 2


Widening participation (WP) endeavours seek to increase the participation of vulnerable students in higher education in Australia. WP has been demonstrably successful. WP outreach is predominantly people-rich, yet when faced with audience apathy and inattention, which is sometimes the case with school students, not all WP messages are able to get cut-through. This case study explores how WP messengers’ communication skills can engage students from [low socioeconomic status] backgrounds. Qualitative data were collected from 46 university students as six universities who were from low socioeconomic status backgrounds and who heralded from regional or remote locales. After analysing the data, it was found that the Elaboration Likelihood Model of Persuasion reflected why some WP messengers and not others were able to cut through audience apathy and inattention. The lessons for social marketers more broadly are to consider how your messengers’s communication skills are helping or hindering communication of your message.

Read the full report here.


This article is an output from the National Priorities Pool (NPP) project Widening Regional and Remote Participation: Interrogating the Impact of Outreach Programs Across Queensland, led by the NCSEHE.

Posted 30 October 2019