There are a vast number of reasons as to why business schools want, and need, to engage in PR. Whether it is to highlight some of the ground-breaking academic research from their professors, announce a new programme at the school or promote their faculty’s expertise – all of which are enhanced and have more impact through the use of PR.
But arguably, one of the main, and most impactful, reasons that business schools want to engage in PR is to attract a greater, highly-skilled, diverse set of applicants to their programmes. In fact, conducting PR centred on student experiences can not only produce some of the most engaging content for your target audiences, but also some of the most useful and persuasive too.
By targeting potential student applicants, with real student stories from your programme, potential applicants can really understand and get a feel for exactly what they could experience from a programme at your business school. As it is with most products and services, people are more likely to believe a review from someone who has experienced it themselves as opposed to the company’s description. Hence why promoting student experiences of the programme is so effective and impactful.
So, what key areas of the student experience should PR professionals be looking to actively promote and highlight through engaging with media opportunities?
Modules and curriculum
The main reason, of course, that people are applying to business school is to learn fresh skills and gain new knowledge. So, the first thing they’ll be looking at on a programme is the curriculum and the modules. Now it’s safe to say that many MBAs for instance, do have a lot of similar modules, but there are new and interesting areas of the curriculum from many programmes that can be highlighted as a differential and potentially entice people to want to look into the programme further.
Study trips and extra-curricular
Moving away from the curriculum, there are lots of other interesting opportunities a programme can offer. Study trips for instance are certainly a real hook for students when applying to a business school – whether it is a trip to Silicon Valley, Wall Street or Google’s HQ – all offer interesting and exciting opportunities. Students can certainly be swayed by the locations, industries and the connections they can make on these trips. Other student initiatives that are available to people on the programme, such as specific clubs and projects, are also extremely attractive to potential applicants who see those that fit with their own interests, knowledge or curiosity.
Connections and career
Potential applicants are also very keen to hear about what alumni from the programme have gone on to do after the programme and whether connections from the business school have aided them in doing so. These connections could be other students, or corporate business leaders and entrepreneurs met during the time on the programme. If alumni go on to have successful, interesting careers that align with the goals of the applicant, and have a history of creating successful alumni then a student is certainly going to be interested in applying to their school.
Life on the school’s campus is something often overlooked in PR, but very important to potential applicants. With many students moving from far away to attend the school and study – more often than not from another country – it is extremely important that students feel comfortable and happy in their learning environment. Promoting interesting and engaging stories of what is happening on campus is likely to inform potential applicants of what it would be like to be part of the school’s community.
Value for money
The strong and direct link between the importance of a jump in salary and receiving an MBA still exists and, while there’s an increasing focus on sustainability and ethics on programmes, this still may be a factor for MBA applicants. Therefore it may be worth highlighting the average jump in salary that MBA students may expect to receive after completion of their programme, but it seems that there are much more important factors nowadays for students when deciding what business school to apply for.