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.
You have to believe in it yourself before you can convince other people of the power of PR and become a PR champion. And why wouldn’t you? Bill Gates has been quoted in countless articles, publications, blog posts, graphic pull-outs and across social media for saying: “If I was down to my last dollar, I would spend it on public relations.” And there is a very good reason for that - PR is the key communications medium because it has that third party credibility that any marketing or advertising, no matter how ‘clever’ or ‘targeted’ it may be, cannot provide. Ok I’m in but my stakeholders aren’t If effective PR – or PR of any sort - is not happening within your institution, the key to getting your stakeholders' sign off is to show them what the competition are doing. Analyse the competitors you are realistically up against – see what they are doing and the sort of coverage they are achieving, present this to your stakeholders and explain what a disadvantage they are being put at by not doing the same themselves. Cold hard evidence is tough to argue with. I’m in, my stakeholders are in – what else do I need to do to become a PR champion? Make sure you’re engaging with the right people – the people who make it work, the people that will be quoted - senior management, the marketing community within your institution, and most importantly your faculty.
It’s a given now that every business school wants a diverse MBA class and is presumably recruiting across the world. The fall back thing that everybody does is to advertise. The problem with advertising of course is that people are becoming more worldly and cynical about adverts. Therefore, by comparison, PR is very powerful because it can tell stories and engage people, and has that third party seal of approval – it is not just you saying something, it’s a journalist writing about it. What type of content successfully improves student recruitment? What really works? The voice of the student from the particular country you are targeting, who has gone to your school and talks about what the experience was like for them. An interview with the person who upped sticks from the country in question and came to your school, completed the qualification and is now doing really well and has set up an interesting business. Yet some schools still fall into the trap of using unbelievable case studies that only show the positive aspects - where everything is “brilliant”. And it comes across as an advert. What is much more effective is the ‘warts and all’ picture, because life simply isn’t perfect.
It was for the Association of MBA’s MBA Entrepreneurial Venture Award finalists. As a judge for the award, I was fortunate enough to meet some fantastic contestants who demonstrated enormous levels of passion for their projects. I was impressed by not only the quality of the business ventures each candidate presented but also the way their respective MBAs had contributed to their success. So who were the MBA Entrepreneurial Venture Award finalists? Natalie Cartwright & Jake Tyler – IE Business School – Finn.ai Nikhil Hegde – Leeds University Business School – 6Degree Andrea Rinaldo – MIP Politecnico di Milano School of Management – XMetrics Laurence Fornari – Telcome Ecole de Management – Skylights Jaime Parodi Bardon & Manuel Azevedi Coutinho – The Lisbon MBA Catolica | Nova – VIABLE Michael O’Dwyer – UCD Michael Smurfit Graduate Business School – SwiftComply How their MBA’s were key to their entrepreneurial success IE Business School MBA Natalie Cartwright met her co-founder of Finn.ai, Jake Tyler, on the IE Business School MBA Programme, where they benefited from participation in the Venture Lab (a practical business incubator designed to assist business start-ups).
There are various stakeholders within a target company with whom it might be appropriate to discuss the topic of business education. Those in the C-suite, for example, are likely to take an interest in the training of their managers and executives. However, for the purpose of this post we are specifically looking at what is possibly the key group of stakeholders – HR.
© Depositphotos.com/r.Hilch We all love modern communications channels don’t we? Twitter, Facebook, Google+, etc, etc, etc – fantastic. The only slight problem about them is the sheer amount of noise they produce. The fact that, at least, sometimes, you feel you are spending your life in a room of very opinionated and, all too often, boring and ill-informed people shouting at the top of their voices. What we seem to be losing is the real art of engagement. Which is a bit of a pity because any channel of information is only as good as the way it’s used. So how do you engage effectively? Last night I forked out the princely sum of £27 (expense no object here – I know how to live) to spend two hours listening to Suggs, the erstwhile front-man of the band ‘Madness’, do a little bit of singing, but mainly talk. And mainly about himself. Which really should have been rather boring, but was absolutely riveting and entertaining because he can tell a story.
We’ve got more media, more communication channels today than we’ve ever had and it seems that barely a day goes by without another adding to the list. Which should mean that getting your message across to your target audience ought to be easier than ever too shouldn’t it? With all those websites, online magazines, blogs, etc, etc, a reasonably well trained chimpanzee ought to be able to do it surely. If only.....
Any business school can do it's own PR. But how do you do it effectively?
Monday 14th November saw members of the BlueSky team groping through the early morning gloom to the latest Maki conference – a get together of communications professionals from major universities such as Oxford, Princeton, UC Dublin and New York State and top international journalists. So what did we learn from the experience? That most of the things we tell our clients are right (which was obviously something of a relief....). Ok, smartass, share it with the class then. Rule1 – don’t say anything to a journalist you can’t defend. If your new product or service is ‘unique’ , ‘innovative’ or ‘ground breaking’, then it damn well better be. As the speaker from Germany’s ‘Die Zeit’ put it, “If you use words like that in a press release then I tend to assume you either don’t know what you are talking about or you think I’m an idiot. And I’m not.” Rule 2 – if you don’t have something worthwhile to say then don’t say it. Sending journalists and editors a stream of non-stories is like crying wolf in the old story. And, as the man from the Daily Telegraph said, by the time you do have something interesting to say, they’ve given up listening. Oh, yes – we do love being right.