With a population of just over 329 million people, making it the third most populous country in the world, the USA is clearly going to be a key media target for any institution. But, more importantly, according to GMAC’s 2018 Applications Trends survey, 140,000 out of an overall 290,000 business school applications last year came from US-based applicants – over three times the size of applicants in Europe alone.
France is at the heart of Western Europe. Historically and culturally among the most important nations in the Western world, France has played a significant role in international affairs, with former colonies in every corner of the globe, and remains one of the world’s leading industrial powers. It’s home to around 66 million people that support the EU's second largest economy and enjoy reading some of the world’s most respected media publications.
India is the second-most populous country in the world. It’s astounding diversity of religions, languages and cultures is unparalleled. It also has a flourishing media scene, with thousands of outlets operating in multiple languages. The mainstream media has more freedom that even before. Alongside this, the use of social media has grown hugely. As a result, the media industry in India has expanded tremendously, so now is the time to focus on public relations and secure some great coverage.
China is home to an estimated 1.3 Billion people, is the world’s second largest economy and has one of the one of the largest media markets in the world. Unsurprisingly, being able to tap into it is a highly appealing prospect for any higher education institution.
It’s been a nightmare month for Heck sausages. PR doesn’t get much worse than having #boycott[insertyourproductname] trend on Twitter, which is exactly what happened in the UK following a controversial decision by the Heck marketing team.
Since graduating, I have spun around in the world of recent graduate life as violently as I could have, frantically flitting from one career area to the next trying to find my ‘passion.’
The BlueSky Education team have just returned from another fantastic MaKi business media conference, and as always, we were delighted to sponsor the event!
Public image and politics have always gone hand in hand. Think JFK ensuring he looked as sharp as possible in the 1960 presidential TV debates in which he overwhelming beat his opposition, Richard Nixon. Think Margaret Thatcher before her election in 1979, taking lessons with a speech coach to help lower her pitch and develop a calm, authoritative tone. Think Tony Blair, in 1994, hiring Alistair Campbellas his press secretary and spokesperson for the Labour party. All of these are examples of politicians taking steps to try and shape and control their own public image.
Ghost writing is a delicate balancing act. A great ghost writer must master the ability to capture the voice of their subject, without losing their own. Here at BlueSky, we regularly have the privilege of ghost writing for our clients. From high-powered alumni short of time, to brilliant professors lacking the English fluency to do their research justice; we’re never without plenty of engaging articles to produce.
Business education conferences can be very productive, but they can be a stressful experience if you do not prepare properly.
International coverage is, arguably, the most important product of business school PR departments. Not only does international recognition build the brand at a much larger scale, coverage can also be used to reach new markets for student recruitment, to promote new courses and to showcase global alumni, amongst many other things.
Whether it’s for a short-term project or long-term support, are you considering hiring a PR agency? If so, how’s the best way to go about this as a university?
Having finished university with a degree in Politics & International Relations from the University of Manchester in 2015, my career path following graduation has been somewhat varied to say the least.
There are no two ways about it, creating great, insightful content for your institution is always a good thing. However, it is extremely difficult to measure how much of real impact each piece of content actually has on the reader and whether or not this has a long-lasting effect.
Its trendy at the moment to say the ‘press release is dead’. And while I would agree that the media industry has gone through a dramatic shift in recent years, that doesn’t necessarily mean the demise of the press release.
When we think of influencer marketing and PR, some may wonder what use it really holds outside of promoting charcoal toothpaste or online clothing brands. One assumption we make is that those with the most followers are the most valuable. And, perhaps, they are. Even for business schools, having a shout out from Kylie Jenner, with her 130 million Instagram followers, would surely cause a surge in applications from around the globe. Some may not be candidates that would usually be considered, but we know that Generation Z is especially entrepreneurial and it’s hard to miss the inspiration they may take from someone who, at 21 years old, is the world’s youngest self-made billionaire.
Who else is sick of the phrase ‘the rapid pace of change’?
Whether accompanying MBA students on international study trips, attending overseas recruitment fairs or speaking at industry events, such excursions provide the ideal opportunity to raise the profile of their school on a wider scale by engaging with local media.
One pregnant teenager. So much controversy Shamima Begum’s face has been plastered across every front page in the UK over the last two weeks. The media storm has been a sensationalist dream for many outlets (arguably, far too many). A story in which the words ‘school girl’, ‘baby’ and ‘ISIS’ can all be crammed into one headline provides clickbait gold for a national news industry increasingly relying on SEO and digital content optimisation to keep itself afloat.
Despite the turbulence of life in the UK at the moment, working out just how we might leave the EU, the country is still open for business. It’s time that business schools properly communicate their worth in today’s political climate.
You’re looking for a PR firm to help out with your international PR efforts and come across a firm that states “we have offices based in New York, London, Hong Kong, Paris and Berlin, in order to penetrate our key markets in the most effective way possible”.
If you are social media savvy, live in North America or are under the age of 25, you may have already heard of the catastrophe that was Fyre Festival. Or if, like me, you have been doing Dry January, you may have discovered it through the documentary Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened, which recently aired on Netflix.
Why we tell MBA stories to increase applications for Business Schools Storytelling is often considered vital for human survival. It’s how we have communicated since we were sat in caves – I think it is just as important now as it was then. And in the world of PR there often needs to be an emphasis on storytelling over selling.
Business schools and universities are successful for a number of reasons, their longevity, their location, their specialities, but their life blood is the quality of their teaching and research - and for this they need the best academics. It’s a highly competitive global market and there are never enough good academics about – so focusing on how to attract faculty is key. How do you optimise your chances of getting the best people? Firstly, you need to get on their radar. You need to be publicising your institution. As we’ve discussed previously, PR is more effective than advertising – advertising these days suffers from the worldliness of any readership – people view adverts with the viewpoint, “well you are going to say that because you’re paying for an advert.” Instead, it is a question of publicising your institution in a way that gives you third party affirmation – you want to be pushing yourself out to show that you are an employer of choice. You need to have PR about what it is like to be an academic at your institution, how good the leadership is and the environment. What are academics looking for from an employer? When it boils down to it, academics are going to choose where to go based on the institute reputation, how much they get paid, and what their career prospects are. But also, academics live and die by their research (and their teaching), that’s how they move forward, by continuing to publish new material. Beyond this, academics also, particularly in the business school world, don’t live solely on campus, an awful lot of them have a sort of a permeable membrane between the business world and the academic world, and so they want to be working with companies and providing consultancy. Academics want to be known, and be on the radar of big companies, so that when they are thinking about getting in a business school academic to advise on a particular topic or be on the board for a particular project, they are the first academic that comes to mind. How does this compare with your institute’s objectives? Popularising and wider dissemination of your academics’ research is very important from the business school and university point of view, because it shows you have great academics working there and that they are doing interesting research. But it is also good for the individual academic because they are getting known in the circles that they might be recruited for consultancy work. The CEO or C-Suite type person isn’t going to be poring over an academic journal but if he reads of an academic’s work in the Economist or The Wall Street Journal etc. it’s going to get noticed.
Another month, another influx of pioneering research papers. But which ones are destined for the headlines? The first step to securing phenomenal press coverage for business schools and universities is to identify exactly which research, and which student or alumni success stories, are most likely to catch the media’s attention. It’s equally vital to know when material lends itself to a press release, to an opinion editorial or to interview articles. Sound complicated? Not to worry, these tasks fall to us. Recognising press trends in business and higher education There are some trends in the news cycle that can be tapped into time and time again; internationally hot topics today include blockchain, diversity and AI. Looking beyond these, different nations’ press networks have their own tailored interests; UK media, for example, is predictably receptive to any particularly insightful comment on Brexit. Exploiting these popular themes might generate quick hits, but standing out to a journalist in amongst a sea of PR pitches is ultimately about thinking outside the box. What haven’t people heard about yet? Which publications reach your target audience most effectively? Or who can offer comment on a popular topic, from an alternative perspective?
As BlueSky Education approaches its tenth year, we take a look back at some of the greatest moments we’ve captured on camera in the last decade.
As we enter 2019, now seems a better time than any to look back over the previous year and some of its key themes for business schools. Working with schools across 10 different countries, BlueSky Education naturally has an abundance of professors who have a lot to say on a wide range of topics. In fact, in 2018 alone BlueSky Education delivered over 1,000 pieces of unique coverage for its clients across a whole host of areas, in international, national and trade publications. Let’s take a look at three of the top themes which featured the prominently in BlueSky Education’s coverage this year: Artificial Intelligence (AI) Despite the actual nuts and bolts of how it operates being unbeknown to most, AI still managed to be a topic which dominated much of the news agenda in 2018. Whether it be the world’s first AI news anchor unveiled in China, the launch of Uber’s driverless cars or the Robot Football World Cup in the summer, the topic of AI was something that was on the lips of many this year. The discussion around AI is one that many of BlueSky education’s clients also contributed to, with over 40 pieces of coverage being focused on this topic, including this piece on Uber’s partnership with one of our clients, Ecole Polytechnique, in a bid to create flying taxis, which featured in The Guardian, BBC and CNN. Or this piece of research from a professor at one of our clients, BI Norwegian Business School, which showed how emerging economies were more open to AI for business management purposes, which featured in Forbes. Gender diversity
The media industry often sees Christmas as a time to wind down and relax and even minimise pitching or distributing press releases. However, I think Christmas can offer PR’s gems of wisdom and tips, below I have summarised my top three. 1. Make a list, check it twice Making strong journalist lists is pivotal to being a good PR person, especially if you are dealing with a number of different journalists and media opportunities at the same time. Santa Claus makes a list of all the children he needs to deliver presents to, and also so his elves make the right presents and don’t miss any children. When PR’s are sending out that all important news worthy press release, they need to make sure they’re not missing out on any key journalists. 2. Follow a star Every PR person should be utilising all of their key spokespeople. Here at BlueSky Education we are always promoting and directing journalists to key professors, Deans and researchers and we’re listening to their opinions and expertise. This is particularly useful when their area of expertise is a news topic or they have a recently published research paper. The three wisemen didn’t get lost because they followed a star, PR’s should know which stars to follow. 3. Make sure there’s room at the Inn Don’t pitch a story that has already been talked about from every side. It’s too difficult to be spotted in a crowded market. My advice would be either pick a different story to promote or come up with a new angle on a pre-existing story. Mary and Joseph couldn’t fit in the Inn they had to find an alternative sleep in the stable, I think the same can be applied to PR as you shouldn’t try and get in somewhere where you simply don’t fit. Christmas is also a great time to show kindness to the media, especially those journalists you frequently contact and who regularly publish stories from your clients. From all of us at BlueSky PR we wish you a Merry Christmas.
More than 100: mentions for our clients in the FT, Forbes, and the BBC targeted press releases delivered mentions for our clients in QS Top MBA, AMBA, Biz Ed Magazine, THE, BusinessBecause, and Poets&Quants
Brexit has become hard to escape. It seems that every time you open a newspaper, turn on the radio or check your rear-view mirror, BAM there it is.
Return on Investment. The crux of so many PR client meetings. Gone are the days of walking into a client’s office with a stack of newspapers that they’ve been featured in since the beginning of your contract; no longer can the value of PR be realistically measured by how much the table shakes when you drop that stack of coverage. So, how can it be measured?
In November, I had the pleasure of hearing from and spending time with representatives from some of Europe’s best and well-known business schools, at the GMAC European Conference in Berlin.
I am proud to call myself a feminist. And by feminist, I mean I believe in equality between genders – there’s no bra-burning, man-hating, tunnel vision going on here – just a simple desire for a level playing field.
If you want to be a good PR person you need an effective strategy, working in the media is competitive and PR is often more of an art form than a sales technique.
The 5th November marks the 413th anniversary of the failure of the 1605 Gunpowder Plot to blow up the Houses of Parliament.
When sending a pitch to a journalist, what’s the first thing you need to check before hitting send? Checking your information is accurate perhaps? Making sure it’s short, swift and to the point? Making sure you’ve spelled their name correctly?
The appetite for academic research in the media is huge. Studies and statistics lend credibility to comment pieces and provide great insight into current trends. But it’s not quite as straight forward as throwing dissertations at journalists!
Hi there, my name’s Jake and I’ve recently become a member of the BlueSky team! If you had asked me what I wanted to do when I was a child, I’d probably have responded by telling you I was going to be a footballer, rapper or actor. PR was definitely not on my radar. However, as I realised I couldn’t run with a ball, rap or act, I was forced to look elsewhere. In hindsight, I think the skills needed for a career in PR have been with me for a long time. I’ve always been an avid reader and writer and the opportunity to channel that into a career is something that appealed to me very much.
Hans Christian Andersen once famously said that ‘to travel is to live’. And while my grandmother never left the British Isles – she was genuinely even afraid to cross big bridges near her home in the countryside – we now live in a world with sprawling cities, where we regularly board planes, cross borders and travel the world.
When reporting back to your clients or manager, would you rather show them 20 individual pieces of PR coverage you’ve gained, or five? Naturally, you’re always going to say 20. The more coverage you gain for a client or business the better surely? It’s just more evidence of your value and more proof that their money is being well spent on PR, isn’t it?
As Russian tourists flock to Salisbury Cathedral and Theresa May accidentally summons ancient demons with her dance moves, the oldest Millennials begin to turn 40. It’s an absurd time to be alive.
‘So what are you going to do with your life?’ asks your least favourite relative, two days after graduation. This was the question I dreaded as a student. Pursuing an English Literature degree had its advantages; I got to hone my writing skills, think creatively and do a lot of independent research. However, career direction was definitely not one of the assets of the course. As a result I was faced with going into the big wide world with essentially no idea what I was going to do with myself.
As a specialist PR agency in the business education market, there are plenty of reasons why schools choose to bring us on board. If you’re considering hiring a specialist consultancy like us too (or you’re just here out of professional curiosity) then it’s probably time to look more closely at what having an agency’s support could achieve. With institutions having such wildly varying goals, here are a number of reasons why a business school might want to work with us: Raising the profile of a key member of faculty – perhaps the Dean of the business school or a renowned academic. Getting coverage in the press that hits both the quantity and quality mark can effectively boost a significant person’s profile. We often use the example of securing an op-ed for a professor in The Guardian that lead to him being inviting to speak at the World Economic Forum. Results like this speak for themselves. Boosting applications for certain programmes – are application numbers for your MBA lower than you’d like them to be? Get that course into the right press – show off your students, highlight that incredible alumni, position that academic lead – and watch the knock-on effect of climbing student application numbers. Appealing to quality students - Your EMBA not getting the quality of applicant that you really desire? Are you in need of better scholarship applicants? Placing articles within the right media outlets, like the Financial Times or The Economist, can attract a high calibre student. Numbers aren’t everything after all, getting quality applicants is vital.
It has been an interesting few weeks for Elon Musk. His recent tweet that he had “funding secured” to take Tesla, a $50bn public company, private, sparked a wealth of problems for regulators, investors and his board. Although initially stocks jumped in value, it came to light that the tweet was not approved by anyone else at the company and that funding was not completely secured. This provoked an investigation by US financial regulators into whether the tweet broke trading laws, sending stocks plummeting and costing investors millions. Musk also faced criticism for his choice of listing stock value as ‘$420’ as the number has become synonymous with cannabis use in the US. A flurry of articles appeared questioning his sobriety including allegations from rapper Azealia Banks that he was indeed taking drugs at the time of the tweet. Shortly after, Elon Musk gave an erratic interview to the New York Times during which he said the past year at the company had been “excruciating”. With an almost tangible sense of desperation in his tone and much conjecture that this was merely a damage control tactic, Tesla shares fell more than 8.5% in early trading. Elon Musk is indisputably the face of Tesla and is hugely valuable to the company – so how much damage has he done and could great PR save him? It’s hard to escape the sense that we are complicit in the widely-publicised breakdown of a very talented but hugely overworked man. And this revelation isn’t necessarily out of the blue – Musk was recently widely criticised for tweeting that Vern Unsworth, one of the divers that rescued the Thai schoolboys earlier this year, was a ‘pedo guy’. This was in retaliation to Unsworth’s claims that the miniature submarine Musk intended to save those stranded “had absolutely no chance of working” because the inventor “had no conception of what the cave passage was like”. It appears that the time has come for the company to invest in a respected and well-recognised executive who is capable of growing a business of this size, rather than relying on a visionary who often sleeps on the factory floor. If this were to happen soon, which I believe it should in order to restore public faith in the management of the company, Musk would have to take on a different role, perhaps as a chief operating officer. But could these actions spin the situation on its head? It’s unlikely, due to the impending US Securities and Exchange Commission investigation which could, theoretically, sanction or fine Tesla or even remove Musk from serving on the board. The conundrum the SEC now faces is that if it does not punish Musk, it unleashes a whole new set of dynamics in the public markets. It could normalise – or at least destigmatise – chief executives’ use of social media to move stock. Giving clemency to the ‘special circumstances’ of Musk’s teary confessions that he barely sleeps and is essentially in the whirlwind of a personal breakdown would mean that all public companies should receive the same treatment. Unsurprisingly, Tesla has hired a well-regarded PR agency who will no doubt be advising on the situation in order to mitigate the worst results of the SEC investigation. I will definitely be keeping my eyes on what happens next!
Okay so a career in public relations might not be as glamorous as Samantha Jones in Sex and the City makes out, however I’ve come to learn that there is so much more to PR than planning parties. Below I have summarised the top three reasons I love my job as a PR person.
Most people don’t understand what public relations is. Part of the problem is that it varies so much across different industries – from working in product PR and sending out samples, to organising huge launch events, to sticking your head inside a research paper and condensing it into a press release – it’s all PR. The purpose is pretty much always to promote something or someone, raise the profile, get seen, be talked about. To this day – and despite half a decade at this very agency – my parents still aren’t totally sure what I do. “The stereotypical “PR? Oh, so you just push out press releases then?” or the equally demeaning “PRs spend their time lunching, getting drunk and talking b*ll*cks” perspective,” is something that particularly irritates our Head of Practice, Kerry Ruffle. “Yes, PRs will distribute press releases, but it’s only a small part of a job which takes a great deal more creativity and forethought to do with any degree of success. “A press release, when written intelligently and used correctly,” she says, “is still an incredibly powerful tool. The problem is too many misinformed, time-pressed or plain lazy media professionals do not take the necessary time to write a release which considers who the intended audience is and what information would be most relevant to them, set it out clearly and concisely and, finally, actually send it to the right people!” As for going out and getting drunk all the time – if that’s true then we’re doing it wrong! Sophie O’Sullivan, Account Executive here at BlueSky, agrees. “A popular misconception is that PR provides a glamorous lifestyle consisting of no real work - only attending events and partying. Stereotypes like this have come into people’s consciousness because of characters such as Samantha Jones in Sex and the City, a PR who stated that, ‘’I don’t believe in the Republican party or the Democratic Party, I just believe in parties.’’ It's an opinion that’s rife among many of those who speak to our team. Kate Mowbray, Senior Account Executive, has had people think that she just goes to events and hands out free products to bribe journalists. Peter Remon, also a Senior Account Executive on the team, has had to battle the suggestion that PR is all about social media and he spends the whole day using Twitter. Really though? We spend our time interviewing fascinating alumni and pitching their stories of success, from setting up companies worth millions to changing whole industries. We dive into complicated research papers and craft short, sharp press releases. We arrange meetings with journalists all around the world, from Sydney to Singapore. We help target markets for student recruitment. We develop effective social media strategies. We offer expert advice on the business education landscape, and so much more.
Rewind two years to a warm summer’s night in France, England have just suffered arguably their biggest humiliation at a football tournament, losing 2-1 to Iceland, a country with just over 300,000 population. Headlines across the nation read ‘national disgrace’, ‘not fit to wear the shirt’ and so on. The distance between the England national football team and the media and general public could not be further. Fast forward to 2018, the scene could not be more different. A new manager and a new-look team which came so close to reaching a World Cup final. But, more extraordinary from a PR perspective – a team that is no longer at war with the media and is in fact actively supported by it and the general public. However, this is not just because the team has played well. When Gareth Southgate entered the job as manager, he decided that none of the departments at the England camp were fit-for-purpose and needed a complete overhaul. He decided to start these departments again completely from scratch, including the England’s communications department. A new-look openness and honesty within the team has been welcomed by the media. This is something PR’s could learn from. Too often PR’s are stereotypically seen as dishonest – England’s communication strategy proves that openness and honesty with journalists is what they value and is likely to gain the best results. Now, we are in an era where the media demands transparency, and PR’s who are open with journalists are likely to have a better reputation with them and be seen as genuine and approachable, which will only work in their favour in the future. This new look strategy has seen journalists and the England football team also bond on a personal level, like never before. We have seen videos of journalists and players having games of darts against each other, for instance. This personal bonding has been a great way for journalists and the team to network and connect with each other on a level outside of work. PR’s could learn to do this more in their job and take the opportunity to try bond with journalists and go the extra mile for them to ensure that in the future these journalists know who they are and have a good relationship them, helping them to look more favourably upon PR’s and their companies in the future. The England team have done their best to accommodate journalists, with regular media conferences, better access to the players and media days where journalists can speak to as many team members as they want. The exclusivity that the England team have offered has allowed the players and journalists to work as a team to produce great stories and content. The positive stories we have seen in the press and positive public image of the team are not just down to the team’s success. It has proven that when PR’s are extremely accommodating to journalists and work together as a team, the best stories and content is produced.
Hard-nosed, cut-throat consultants. Thick-skinned, full of false charm and selfish arrogance. Is that what you think of when you imagine a PR professional? Do you picture PR agency directors barking orders and waiting for hot coffee from shaking interns? I hope not because, personally, I think it’s rather cool to be kind in this industry. Perhaps it’s my Millennial attitudes surfacing. I’m all for doing good by people. I want to work for people who care about me and I want my colleagues – as well as my clients – to know I genuinely care about them. After all, I have only seen it produce positive results. If you know that you are valued and feel like you can make a difference to someone’s day, then you simply perform better. It’s about making that extra effort to pitch until there’s a ‘yes’, to research a country’s media until you understand it’s entire landscape, or to get up extra early to speak to someone in another time zone. Those are the actions of hardworking teams who want to achieve excellent outcomes – and it can be nurtured by kindness. By listening to everyone’s ideas, by creating a space where you don’t feel as though your job is on the line because the traffic was bad and you were five minutes late. Despite our sector’s somewhat harsh reputation, kindness is a feeling that’s woven into our culture here at BlueSky Education.
This last week has provided a lot of PR fails - which have been so awful, they have literally made headlines themselves. Here are my top three. Melania Trump The first, and possibly the worst, PR fail is Melania Trump’s jacket. It’s fair to say that President Trump and the first lady have faced a lot of criticism, but somehow, I think wearing a jacket to visit a migrant child detention centre that says ‘I really don’t care, do you?’ is possibly one of the most insensitive things Melania could have done. Unfortunately for her, Melania Trump's apparently empathetic visit to the Mexican border is now completely overshadowed by the unempathetic message on the back of her jacket. Burger King Another embarrassing PR fail this week comes from Russian Burger King. Obviously seizing the opportunity to make headlines with the world’s media spotlight on Russia thanks to the World Cup, Burger King Russia decided to create a social media campaign offering free burgers for life to women who get pregnant by a football player. “Each will receive 3 million rubles, and a lifelong supply of Whoppers. For these girls, it will be possible to get the best football genes and will lay down the success of the Russian national team on several generations ahead. Forward! We believe in you!" Burger King in Russia have since apologised for the social media campaign. I would have thought that Burger King wouldn’t want to encourage Russia having a bad reputation for playing on sexist stereotypes, particularly in advertising, but this campaign really felt like something from the 1950’s.