Covid-19 has proven to be a real test for higher education institutions. The industry has been completely turned upside down over night. Though new research suggests student recruitment numbers are likely to still be fairly high in the UK, the Covid-19 period has still been financially challenging. So much so, that 13 UK universities announced this week they may be going bust without a government bailout.
Country-wide lockdowns and having to shift to virtual learning has really tested the online capabilities of universities, while social distancing and potential travel restrictions could have a huge effect on the industry even as we begin easing out of a lockdown. Rules around how many students can come onto campus will no doubt influence how many students decide to still study this year and not defer, whilst heavy travel restrictions on countries such as India and China, where large numbers of students travel to the UK from, could also impact funding for universities.
It’s safe to say, Covid-19 has been a once in a lifetime challenge for the industry – and there will likely be difficulties for institutions However, coronavirus can act as a key topic of interest for universities to focus on, if the pandemic can be used effectively in their content marketing. Here’s five reasons as to why you should focus this around Covid-19:
Topical and relevant
Covid-19 has completely dominated the news agenda for the past four months – in fact according to around news monitoring service, RavenPack, 73% of all news outlets are following and covering the pandemic. It’s virtually all that many journalists are writing about, and it’s often all people want to read about too. Though this clearly proves it’s a crowded space, which is why it’s important to be provocative and outlandish in your headlines and content, as long as you can back-up your claims, to really draw the reader into your piece as opposed to another which may be similar.
It highlights global expertise
In the grand scheme of things, there’s very little known about Covid-19 – but it has impacted everyone globally. The content that’s most likely to get the highest amount of interest right now is thought-leadership pieces from faculty with profound expertise in their area, writing about the impact of Covid-19 on their particular field, in an easy to read, generalist style. Given the need and want for expert advice during this global pandemic, universities are incredibly well-placed to be informing such a large audience of readers on key global issues. This need and want for expert opinion and commentary is something that universities can use in their favour, through content marketing, whether that’s in the media or on their own blogs and websites.
Institutions who push out interesting, forward-thinking expert pieces from their faculty are more than likely to be seen as a leading institution on what is really relevant in today’s world – this is incredibly important.
Proves your institution’s worth to society
Everyone wants to know how Covid-19 will affect their own livelihoods, their work and their industry. Only those with expertise in these areas are able to provide credible advice and insight right now, therefore there has never been as much of a demand for academic expertise as there is now. Leaders round the world are following experts’ advice, whether it’s on public health, restarting the economy, or securing safe working conditions, and in turn the whole of society are following this. This has highlighted just how much leading academic experts, and the higher education institutes they come from, are desperately needed in today’s society.
Create a discussion and generate more engagement
Covid-19 is something everyone has an opinion on, given it affects everyone globally. Content centred on the pandemic and its impact are likely to create discussions between people, which in turn generates more interest and engagement on your pieces, and also generates increased sharing of them. People are also looking for expertise in order to form their own opinions and increase their knowledge on a current and uncertain situation. If your content promises to do this, you’ll likely see a lot more engagement with your target audience and beyond.
Attract a high calibre of students
Students want to learn from faculty experts who are authorities in their field and have forward-thinking, provocative, interesting things to say on what is currently going on in their area. If you can provide consistent, interesting dialogue on what’s going on in the world right now, it’s only going to be a positive in terms of content marketing and recruitment of the best possible students.
An example of a school who has done this incredibly well, pushing out thought-provoking, interesting commentary on Covid-19 from their faculty is Imperial College Business School. Their own faculty thought-leadership page, IB Knowledge, has published over 30 thought-leadership pieces from faculty related to the pandemic and its impact on a number of working practices, spanning from remote working to impact on the economy, to marketing budgets to carbon tax credits.
Content marketing focused around Covid-19 is guaranteed to receive a vast amount of interest from readers – it’s incredibly relevant to virtually every industry, and business schools and universities have to be driving people to their site using their academics expertise in their content marketing. They will see huge benefits in doing so.