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.
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.
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?
Meeting deadlines is vital. It’s either completely inappropriate or entirely fitting that I’m writing a blog post on meeting deadlines, considering BlueSky’s web editor asked me to submit this blog two weeks ago. Whilst my tardiness served to inspire the topic of this post it certainly can’t be excused because, regardless of whether you’re providing comment to a journalist or a blog post for your own website, deadlines must be met. It’s not rocket science to see why this rule of PR is so important. As a PR professional you are responsible for providing the link between your institution and the media, enhancing its visibility and brand. By extension, your actions and reputation impact upon theirs. If a journalist requests information on a new programme, or some comment or a full article from your faculty and you fail to deliver it in time, this can seriously sour relations. Missing a deadline doesn’t only risk putting the journalist in a tricky position (they may well have their own deadlines to meet with editors or publishers), it shows to a journalist that you – and your client by extension – are unreliable. When looking for interviewees in future, or commissioning articles for their magazine, an editor may actively decide not to pursue an opportunity with you because of this, severing your ties with what presumably is an important audience for your institution to engage with. Negative situations are always far more memorable that those which go off without a hitch. If a journalist, editor or producer associates your institution, your professor, with a negative outcome it can be hard – near impossible – to shake that image in future. On the other hand, consistently delivering original, relevant and timely content will go a long way in affirming your faculty’s reputations as professionals, and establishing your institution as a reliable, useful source of information. This can certainly provide an advantage in securing future media opportunities. It’s simple really. Don’t miss deadlines. However, as I demonstrated at the beginning of this blog, mistakes can happen. Sometimes, circumstances beyond your control can hinder your efforts of getting that comment, that article (or blog!) to the right person at the right time. There are a few steps you can take to try to stop this situation from occurring and, if it does, dealing with it in a helpful, responsible way;
As institutions strive to become ever more visible around the world and business education programmes become increasingly global in their teaching, business school faculty are required to spend greater amounts of time on the road. Whether accompanying MBA students to emerging markets for international study trips, attending overseas recruitment events or speaking at industry events, such excursions provide the ideal opportunity for communications teams to raise the profile of their institutions – and their faculties – at a local level by sharing their expertise with local media. But securing the chance for your professors to sit down with the most influential titles in the country can prove to be a more of a challenge than it is at home. So in an environment where your faculty are relatively unknown, where your school’s brand carries arguably less clout than it does locally, and faced with short time frames, tricky timezones and languages barriers how can you give your faculty the best chance possible of getting in front of the world’s media? How to secure meetings for your faculty with journalists abroad Plan early What is the purpose of the trip? What can they talk about? Why should journalists care? Do your research Don't be difficult Be realistic
Not all news is news. And any PR professional doing their job properly knows that securing quality media coverage isn’t just about flinging every bit of information a client shares with them out into the world and hoping some of it gets noticed. We spend a great deal of time sifting through the information our clients share with us to find the stories that will make the best impact with their target audiences. But sometimes those stories that can be media gold aren’t always the easiest to spot, or even the easiest to communicate clearly and convincingly to your press contacts. To stand the best chance of success, there are five ingredients that need to be included in your pitches... 1. A clear focus What are you trying to communicate? Consider the information you are sharing and keep the message as clear, and simplistic as possible. Your pitch cannot be too lengthy or have too many tangents. A time-pressed journalist needs to be able to scan your pitch and immediately identify what you/your client is offering, and what their angle on that topic is. 2. Relevance It might sound obvious, but you’ve got to know your audience. Before pitching take the steps to ensure that the information you’re sharing with journalists is something which will appeal to each of their individual areas of expertise. What are they writing about? Have they already covered the topic you’re sharing? 3. A strong spokesperson… The ideas you put forward in your pitch are only as strong as the person who voices them. It is vital to ensure you pitch a person who can speak confidently and eloquently with the media, and have the experience and expertise to lend authority to their perspectives. 4. …With something new to say! It’s no good having a strong spokesperson if they’re only able to tell a journalist what they already know. Take the time to craft a new angle on the topic at hand with your spokesperson in order to provide your media targets with a fresh way of telling, or adding to a story.
Sometimes, no matter how much effort you put in, things just don’t work out. You might think your client is the ideal person to feature in a journalist’s article about the advancements of online education or the gender pay gap, you’ve swiftly pitched them to the journalist listing their various attributes, and you might have even submitted a comment or secured a phone interview. But, when the article is published your client has not managed to make it into the text - so why don't journalists quote your client? It's frustrating? Yes. And it can happen for a myriad of reasons, many of which might be outside of your control – for example the journalist might not have had enough space within the word count to squeeze in your client’s comments. But there might be a little more to it. Are you doing all you can to give your client the best chance possible of being quoted? Being proactive and quick to jump on a news story is only part of the process. Keeping these four checkpoints in mind when pitching your clients to the media, whilst not guaranteeing a positive result every time, can help to reduce the number of occasions where your client is left disappointed.
Do you often find yourself missing out when looking to attract mainstream media attention with your school’s news? Whether it’s the statistics surrounding class make-up, faculty research or a particularly astute comment from the Dean on the state of modern business education, communications staff are often faced with journalists turning their institution’s news down, or ignoring it entirely, regardless of how genuinely interesting it may be. The grim reality is that the relevance, and thus the impact of the information they’re sharing with the media often decreases the further it travels outside of the school’s immediate community, even when these topics are ones that are routinely the subject of discussion in the likes of the Financial Times, Poets&Quants and the Times Higher Education. It can often be hard to stand out from the crowd when every other school is seeking to do the same thing. But there is strength to be found in numbers. Though it might sound counterintuitive, sometimes the most effective way of shining a spotlight on your institution and your faculty’s expertise is by also highlighting someone else’s. Far from it being a detriment to your own exposure, joining forces with others, whether directly or indirectly, can actually help to secure a better result. The question any credible reporter will ask upon receiving your press release or your pitch is, “so what?”. Alone, your school might not be able answer that question sufficiently. However, when partnered with evidence from a handful of other institutions (whether this compliments the information you’re sharing or contradicts it) you can present the journalist with the foundation of a richer story – a trend, a discussion which can be stretched from the findings of just one institution to become a wider comment on the industry as a whole. Far from diluting your message, working in this way can improve your school’s exposure and reputation by confirming to journalists that your faculty have a wider, well-informed view, which extends outside of your school’s campus. We hope you found these insights helpful. If you’d like to discuss how your institution can collaborate with others, the BlueSky Education team would be happy to advise. For the full article download Wildfire Volume 2. Issue 1.
You’ve spoken with your client and clued yourself up on the topic at hand, you’ve devised an appropriate strategy for press activity, you’ve created an effective pitch and researched the most appropriate press outlets and, finally, you’ve got the journalist to give your client the go-ahead. Job done, right? Wrong. Media advice: Managing the interview process Though we’re told time and again that the difficult part of the job is getting your client in front of a journalist, in reality that is only half of the battle. The really tricky part, sometimes, is keeping the journalist interested in what your client has to say once they’re there. Just because a journalist has decided to speak with your client or has welcomed a written comment from them, there is no guarantee this will result in a piece of worthwhile press coverage. So how can you ensure you can get the most out of the opportunity in front of you? What essential actions should you take once a journalist says “yes”? 1. Get all the details: Before you approach your client you should first establish exactly what the journalist is after. How would they like to carry out the interview? What is their deadline for receiving comment? What is the word count for the op-ed you’ve proposed? If it’s a telephone interview, when are they available to speak? And, what exactly are they looking for your client to discuss? Do they need images? By clarifying these details from the outset you can approach your client armed with all the necessary information and avoid any potential problems further down the line.
“Pull up a chair. Take a taste. Come join us. Life is so endlessly delicious.” ― Ruth Reichl The words of American Chef Rachel Reichl could have been the ones of MaKi Conference hosts as we walked into a bright lecture room at Frankfurt School of Management and Finance in Germany. The room vibrated with enthusiasm and good will. It was to become to home of some of the greatest PRs in the world for the coming days. Last week I attended one of the global MaKi Conferences. MaKi brings together communication professionals in the business education sector from all over the world. We meet regularly to participate in journalist panels and exchange good communications practices in the sector. On this occasion we had the pleasure of speaking to Reuters, The Wall Street Journal, Handelsblatt and Die Welt, to name a few. This gave us some great insight into what the MBA market in Germany looks like and how the German press likes to cover business school topics.
There have been long debates on the fate of print papers in the digital age. But we missed something vital. If consumers have the choice of blocking online ads, will digital advertising survive? © DepositPhotos/ lightsource The argument goes like this: as modern society consumesinformation differently (digitally), news, and implicitly advertising, moves online. The business model is changing – the internet gave users unrestricted access to news and information which in turn put a lot of small papers out of business, while some moved all of their content online. Some newspapers will safeguard their precious content under a paywall but the rest will disseminate it for free and stay afloat from digital advertising revenues. This is old news. But what happens when the digital advertising does not reach its target audience? The Financial Times published a very insightful piece, this morning, on how adblockers are messing up a £120 billion online advertising industry. An adblocker is an application which prevents advertising from appearing on webpages. According to a study by Adobe and PageFair, the number of people using ad blocking software rose 70% last year. Out of 2.8bn internet users worldwide, 144m use adblockers.
Did you know there are 400 people in the world who can’t feel a drop of fear? Did you know there is a blind person in the USA who rides a bike everywhere? I tend to not read business books – they seem to be carbon copies and rather dull. However, I did buy one recently, as its table of contents intrigued me. One chapter title in specific: “How to become Global Chief Executive by going to the movies more often”. Is that possible? In what world? In his book, The Rule Breaker's Book of Business, Roger Mavity talks about the importance of being exposed to different environments (this is the chapter I mention above). He acknowledges it is very important to constantly develop professionally, to work on your skills and to be dedicated. However, he also firmly believes you should not be in the office more than 8 hours a day (less if possible). On top of that, he claims that engaging in activities unrelated to work has more value than we could ever think. Visiting an art gallery, exercising, going to a concert or even something as simple as going to the cinema, could make us much better at what we do professionally. Roger specifically addresses people who claim to be too busy to do any of these sort of activities in three simple and elegant quotes: “People perform better when they take things seriously, but not too seriously” “People of the workaholic mindset claim that they would like to do more in the way of galleries but they just don’t have the time. What they really mean is that they don’t have the discipline to find the time” “If you want a life outside the office, just buy the (movie) tickets, put the date in your diary and it’ll happen. If you don’t, you’ll become a couch potato who knows a lot about what’s on TV and little about life” © Depositphotos.com/ olly18
In our line of work, and especially here at BlueSky PR, we have the pleasure of working with some great minds from the higher and business education arenas. All of these people strive to make the world a better place and they employ different methods in achieving this aim. Whether they engage in research, projects or just teaching, talking to them is always revealing. In the past couple of weeks I have been working on a piece of research from Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University (RSM). The study looks at the impact of financial crises – not necessarily on society as a whole but on the individual. Professor Mathijs A. van Dijk discovered that life expectancy decreases by an average of nine months in the five years following a financial crisis. We know little about the broader impact of financial crises on society as a whole. Media reports suggest potentially severe effects on health, education, and poverty. Some countries reported higher rates of suicide, falling birth-rates, increased HIV prevalence and more people going into poverty. In the U.K., an additional four percent of 18-25 year olds went into poverty in the aftermath of the crisis.
They say good things come to those who wait, and a recent piece of coverage has proven to us here at BlueSky that they might have been right... This week saw the publication of ‘Great Places To Study Business Abroad: An International Student Guide’ on Forbes. It featured students from all 29 partner schools in 29 different countries from our client CEMS, the Global Alliance in Management Education. For a number of weeks, we worked with CEMS to survey these students, catalogue their responses and create a guide that would be useful for the huge numbers of students looking for advice and guidance on studying in a foreign country. The response from our client has been fantastic. You’ll see from the picture below that Rebecca Rosinski, CEMS Marketing Manager, has wallpapered her office with the coverage we’ve helped her achieve.
Video-sharing websites such as YouTube and Vimeo have made it easy for companies to have a dynamic presence online. Despite this, many companies still don’t use the medium to its full potential. A good example of an organisation using video to attract stakeholders to their platform is Digg. Digg is a technology news aggregator that aims to feature the best videos the web has, to share with its audience. But Digg also has a blog and a content-rich website that attract an audience to their products. The Diggnation show is a weekly ‘’tech/web culture show’’ hosted by Alex Albrecht and Digg founder Kevin Rose. Diggnation is classic thought-leadership content as it’s not just about Digg and its products. The show proves to be very popular because it’s easy to understand. Why is video an important PR tool? David Meerman Scott makes a compelling case for using video to communicate with your stakeholders in his book The New Rules of Marketing and PR. One benefit of producing a video for your organisation is that the media, bloggers and others in a position to name-check you on their platform, tend to like to watch videos to get story ideas.
Business Education is a mature market, and with so many programmes out there and relatively few publications writing about them, there is a constant competition between schools for worthwhile coverage. On the other side of the fence, journalists are under considerable pressure to deliver news from education institutions in a new and engaging way.
“© Depositphotos.com/yurizap” I remembered reading an article published more than 100 years ago which summarised different views of the future – the one we are living now. I must say that most of those predictions were spot on! People living more than a century ago expected technological advancements but the way things were going back then it was not too hard to predict that after Thomas Edison had invented the first viable light bulb in 1880, the product will only improve. So now, out of a desire to be a step ahead of the game and also test our ability to predict the market, we’ve been asking ourselves how the PR industry will look in a decade. I personally believe that in the next 10 years less developed economies will catch up on the PR concept and start using it accordingly. Probably not much will change in PR in the Western economies (at least not dramatically), but once countries like the BRICS nations begin to appreciate the benefits of PR like we do, we will be witnessing a true internationalisation of the industry. Ian Hawkings
Managing your relations with the press and shaping your image in the competitive world of business education involves many activities. Which aspects of this process you place the greatest emphasis on can influence how well prospective students view your institution.
Client Q&A with Patricia Rousseau, Communications & PR Officer at the Vlerick Business School, in Belgium
Patricia Rousseau is the Communications and PR Officer at the Vlerick Business School in Belgium. In this Q&A she discusses her role at Vlerick, why she feels the use of PR to be important for business schools, and any advice for those looking to introduce PR to their institution.
Always conscious of adding to an overly saturated discussion, I couldn't help but comment on the on-going furore over Jeremy Paxman and Russell Brand’s latest exchange. In recent years Russell Brand has taken the route many well respected entertainers have gone down, becoming somewhat disillusioned in their own self-worth, thinking that the fact they sell out stadium size venues means they have the know-how and duty to solve the world’s problems. Granted they have a platform to influence like few others do, however when they are declaring such orders as refusing to vote in general elections, their privileged position inevitably comes into question. However this 15 minute interview has seeped its way into most news and discussion programmes and has sparked a nationwide debate. His claims about abstaining the right to vote have caused derision from his peers and many have joined in on the mockery of his claims.
I should start by apologising to everyone for trying to redeem myself through this blog post. I promise that by the end of it there will be some food for thought. So bear with me. Yesterday, myself and a couple of my colleagues attended a training course on how to create effective presentations led by David Josephs. The aim of it was clear. At the end of the training we were given the task of putting together a three minute presentation on a desired topic. This was going to be a competition (so I put my warrior hat on). We can present on anything? My chance to make everyone fall in love with… a fairy-tale (my friends will know this is very typical of me). There I was, a very competitive 5’5’’, well rounded, glasses on, PR professional presenting on… A Never Ending Story (Michael Ende). I was poetic and confident and had the perfect story to tell. I was also ranting, did not respect time and LOST.
BlueSky's Freddie Isbister discusses his role as part of the Business Education team and how to communicate academic research to the wider media.
BlueSky's Kerry Gill discusses her role with the business education team, and how she goes about getting the right coverage for her clients.
The lack of effective measurement and evaluation in PR has become the proverbial albatross hanging around the neck of the industry. It's not that nobody believes a system of evaluation is needed; rather that no method has really been put forward or agreed upon. As Freddie pointed out in his blog last November, the absence of an agreed measurement system has led to almost 60% of PR campaigns not being evaluated at all. This not only means that clients do not get a realistic idea of the value of their investment, but also it can appear that PRs do not feel it important to place a value upon their own work. And maybe for those who shun PR this is where the problem lies, as there is no way to define return on investment.
PR is not simply about having an article in the press anymore. As technology continues to develop, and more and more individuals and businesses are on social networks, the value of online media is increasingly being recognised. This isn’t to say that being featured in a newspaper or magazine isn’t useful anymore – it is. But it’s important to use all of the communication channels at your disposal, and having an article published online can be of real benefit. Perhaps its most obvious advantage over a print article is that it is there on the internet forever. Individuals from all over the world can view the page at any time, meaning that it has the potential to be read by a much wider audience. Not only this, but it can also be shared through social media networks, and it’s much easier to keep track of its reach. A great example of this can be seen from a recent piece on ere.net by our client Adrian Kinnersley, MD at Twenty Recruitment. Here, he responded to a controversial article by highlighting the reasons why LinkedIn will never kill the professional recruitment industry, and it has proved to be extremely popular. As it currently stands, it has had 923 shares on LinkedIn, 272 tweets, and 93 Facebook likes.
I was shocked to read earlier this week that an estimated 50 to 60 per cent of PR campaigns use no method of evaluation. Considering that most businesses are obsessed with evaluation and analysis, why has the PR industry struggled for such a long time when it comes to measurement? Luckily a news item that came through this week helped give me the answer. Gorkana reported that for the 2013 CIPR Excellence Awards, any entry which includes AVE (Advertising Value Equivalent) will be given a score of zero for the measurement and evaluation section of the judging. It appears to be the final nail in the coffin for an outdated measurement method that has held the industry back when it comes to effectively evaluating PR efforts.
When reading through posts in a LinkedIn group, I came across a survey which has found that the majority of PR professionals have not made a concerted effort to know enough about social media. The survey, carried out by StevensGouldPincus, asked the heads of 116 PR companies in the US about their social media usage. Almost all respondents agreed that it was important to be able to offer social media services to their clients, and recognised they risked losing business if their company was not up to speed in this area. However, only 25% of those surveyed admitted they had good social media knowledge. I find these results quite difficult to get my head around, as to me, good PR means knowing your client’s aims and objectives, and having the ability to respond to them in the most effective way. This includes using social media. Research has shown that an active social media presence can increase recognition and interest in a company, helping it to expand by attracting more business. Additionally, participation in industry specific discussions and interacting with customers online can help to position a company as a thought leader, and build a good reputation. We at BlueSky recognise it is important to be able to cover both traditional and digital media for our clients, and because of this we've improved our own social media knowledge by undergoing some extensive training sessions. By taking the time to learn how to best use each social media channel, we can provide guidance for our clients and even assist in managing their social media profiles, helping to keep them visibly engaged with their industry and associates.
Google’s CEO Larry Page has announced this year that Google+ has crossed over the 100 million user mark. But am I the only one who is wondering who these users are, and where they’re hiding? Apparently not. Software developer RJ Metrics has conducted a study into public interactions on Google+ and has published some less than flattering results. After reviewing the activity of 40,000 users, RJ Metrics reportedly discovered 30% have only made one public post. What’s more, there is a 15% chance users will only ever post five times. On average there’s a gap of 12 days between posts, and on top of that, each post receives less than one +1, reply, or share. Overall, the regular users Google + does have are steadily reducing their activity month by month. Hardly the sort of results you’d expect from a site that has more users than there are people living in Cyprus. Google have issued a statement in response, insisting more interaction is happening through the site’s private channels than public; making RJ Metrics’ report inaccurate. Unfortunately this doesn’t seem to have stopped publications such as Forbes broadcasting the conclusion that Google+ has a large base of very inactive users. So what’s really going on?
At BlueSky PR we recognise the value of social media and are constantly looking at opportunities with emerging platforms. We know how important it is to utilise new sites, but we also need to remember that the ones we already have are constantly evolving, and we have to keep up-to-date with any changes. One such example is BranchOut, which has grown into the largest professional networking app on Facebook. After launching in July 2010, it now has around 25 million users. So, how can it benefit you? If you upload your CV you can search and apply for jobs from over 3 million opportunities. After finding a role that looks appealing, you are able to see your own connections to the company as well as your friends’ connections. The aim is to add contacts to build up your network so that friends can help friends to find and secure a job. It’s a nice idea, but undoubtedly it has been compared to LinkedIn as a professional tool. Given LinkedIn’s popularity, the common consensus seems to be that LinkedIn is better and, as they have around 150 million users, I don’t think BranchOut can be seen as a true competitor just yet.