International coverage is, arguably, the most important product of business school PR departments. Not only does international recognition build the brand at a much larger scale, coverage can also be used to reach new markets for student recruitment, to promote new courses and to showcase global alumni, amongst many other things.
One key way to capitalise on this is to arrange media interviews for travelling faculty. High volumes of professors will travel throughout the year from longer stretches of time to shorter stops, perhaps for events and conferences. Setting aside half an hour in their schedule to meet with a journalist can result in impactful coverage and foster a great new international journalist contact for the whole PR department to use.
In the past, BlueSky Education PR has organised these types of meetings for a vast number of professors in areas all around the globe, including China, India, Indonesia and the US. These have ranged from interviews with new Deans to faculty speaking about international partnerships and research to marketing teams discussing overseas student recruitment and more in-between.
So, what is the best, most time-efficient way to do this? In order to secure a successful interview for a professor with a journalist overseas who you may or may not have had contact with before, there are a few cardinal rules.
Know the professor’s schedule well in advance
There is almost no point in sending a fantastic pitch to a journalist if you will not be able to suggest a location and a time for them to meet the professor. It is important to know travelling schedules as far in advance as possible to allow for the best chance at arranging a meeting both parties can attend. As a rule, aim to have about a month’s notice before trips.
Make sure the professor is media trained
This one seems obvious but is easy to overlook. At the most basic level, it’s crucial to brief the professor as thoroughly as possible, providing information about the publication, the journalist and their beat and what types of questions to expect and prepare for. At best, full media training for travelling faculty is hugely advantageous.
Make your pitch relevant to the journalist’s target audience, not yours
It’s important to remember that pitches need to appeal to a journalist’s target audience and expertise, and encourage them to seek knowledge from your client. Emphasising elements of professors’ research that are directly relevant is a great way to do this, just make sure you know what the journalist is writing on and who is reading it. Which brings me to my next point…
You really can never do too much research! In order to write a successful pitch, it’s crucial that you look into the media landscape of the country you are pitching in. Spending time finding two key journalists who write on exactly the topic you’re focussing on is of far more value than firing out twenty-five pitches to journalists just because they are local.
Be creative in reaching out
We all know that finding journalists’ contact details can be tough. Getting creative by using apps that can source international email addresses, messaging people on social platforms like LinkedIn or Twitter or even asking existing contacts to initiate new relationships between you and their colleagues are all good ways of expanding your reach.
Once you’ve secured a good new contact – great! This person is likely to be happy for you to call upon them again if they have had a good experience working with you. In order to maintain that status, check in with them, ask if you can help with any existing articles and be sure to pitch relevant and timely stories to them. These are important steps to take as you create a global network of journalist contacts.
The more work you put in to pitching relevant journalists and forming relationships with them, the better for your faculty. Carrying out thorough research is hugely important and, often, time-consuming but can make all the difference to your international coverage reach.