Business schools and universities are successful for a whole host of reasons – their longevity, their location, their contribution to the society around them, but their life blood is the quality of their teaching and research – and for this they need the best academics.
The higher and business education markets have never been more globalised and competitive. Year on year, students and faculty alike are looking beyond the borders of their country or region, and are committing to studying and researching at institutions all over the globe. That presents institutions with both opportunities – such as capturing fresh talent from a far wider recruitment pool than just local academics – and challenges – they’re not alone in their desire to attract the world’s best faculty.
So, with that in mind, business schools and universities need to ensure that they have the greatest chance of attracting the best faculty.
But how does a school go about doing that?
Brand awareness is key
First things first: In order to attract the best faculty, you need be on their radar. And the best way to achieve that is through PR.
In such a competitive market, brand awareness is undoubtedly one of the most important metrics guiding all PR and communications efforts.
In achieving media coverage for your business school or university, you’ll be able to showcase your institution’s facilities, faculty expertise and student stories for all external stakeholders to see, particularly potential faculty members. This will translate into brand awareness for your school, making it one of the first places leading academics consider when looking to move.
Now, when looking to secure those headlines and column inches, it’s easy for schools to fall into the trap of simply paying for advertisement in leading publications, such as the Financial Times or Poets&Quants. This, however, isn’t going to bolster your reputation and put you on the radar of the world’s leading minds, simply because everyone can see that you’ve paid for an overtly promotional feature or op-ed.
In attracting new faculty, you need to harness the power of legitimate media exposure, earned through piquing the interest of a journalist, or contributing towards a story they’re already working on. Luckily for business schools and universities, they have an arsenal of expertise and interesting stories available to do just that.
The key to effective media coverage when looking to attract new faculty is to secure the kind of content that presents your institution as both a thought leader and world leader.
So promoting your existing faculty’s expertise around topical subjects, as well their ground-breaking research, must be a feature of your school’s modus operandi.
A great example of this comes from Imperial College Business School. In order to promote one of Imperial’s research centres, BlueSky Education secured an op-ed opportunity for one of its leading faculty members. Harnessing the professor’s expertise around climate finance, we were able to offer The Times an article discussing the impact of Joe Biden winning the 2020 Presidential Election on the US climate policies.
Why this kind of content works
The article, which was published online as well as in print, is a brilliant example of the kind of coverage that attracts new faculty for a number of reasons.
Firstly, it was placed in a publication that is both widely-read and well-respected, and one which regularly makes its way into the offices and homes of leading university faculty.
Secondly, it provides one of Imperial’s many experts with the opportunity to showcase his world-leading insights into a topical subject, reflecting the school’s awareness of the world around it.
Media exposure like this for existing faculty is a really effective way of attracting the attention of new talent because it not only showcases the existing experts at your school, presenting your institution as a hub for leading thinkers, but it also appeals to the aspirations of academics who themselves want to achieve those column inches in major news outlets.
Leading academics often, understandably, want to see their name in headlines, or on primetime broadcasting, and so one of the best ways to attract new faculty is provide a platform for your existing ones.
When a university or business school takes on a new academic, the institution is not the only one placing its reputation into the hands of another – scholars are entrusting their careers and reputations with your school, and so you need to demonstrate that you can deliver in terms of press exposure.
Outside of presenting your school as world leading institution that’s home to some of the greatest minds out there, you need to ensure that you’re utilising the voices of those existing faculty members, who can endorse your organisation.
For business schools or universities looking to market themselves generally, faculty recruitment aside, testimony from students, alumni and faculty is key. So, returning back to the issue of attracting new faculty, the endorsement of existing academics at your institution, discussing subjects such as the state-of-the-art facilities available, the leadership and strategy of the school, as well as the work environment, has to be another string to your institution’s bow.
Schools need to remember that, alongside being leading academics, prospective faculty are ultimately potential employees and so they too are interested in understanding whether your institution is the right employer for them.
Attracting top faculty to your business school or university doesn’t have to be challenging, despite the competitive market your organisation finds itself in. Effective PR and media relations, which emphasises the value of working, teaching and researching at your institution will set your school apart and get you on the radar of the world’s leading minds.