In the competitive market of European higher education, The Netherlands stands out as a key country for universities and business schools seeking international visibility.
English is widely spoken in personal, academic and business spheres within the country, and many Dutch students also speak a third language on top of that. This has meant that the tens of thousands of Dutch students who choose to study outside of The Netherlands every year become key targets for universities and business schools.
In this context, the role of media visibility becomes important for universities and business schools aiming to carve a niche in The Netherlands. Luckily, we are here to help…
Dutch media landscape
Freedom of the press and free speech are exceptionally well-protected in The Netherlands, contributing to a remarkably diverse media landscape. It is crucial to recognise the balance between international and local influences within the country. The Dutch maintain strong global connections, spanning trade, languages, cultures, and media, enjoying access to an extensive range of international media outlets.
Despite this international engagement, local media holds significant importance, evident in the presence of distinct press outlets in various provinces. The Netherlands boasts publicly owned media, yet it is not as strong as commercially driven and widely popular private media, both domestic and foreign. The widespread use of the internet further underscores the Dutch population's connectivity, with a staggering 95% being internet users as of December 2021. In line with global trends, traditional print media in The Netherlands faces considerable challenges when compared to the dominance of digital platforms.
Freek Staps, editor-in-chief at Algemeen Nederlands Persbureau (ANP) shared with Cision some valuable insights on how to craft compelling pitches and connect with journalists in the Netherlands, and we’re here to apply the lessons to business and higher education for you!
Crafting the perfect pitch or press release for Dutch media
When writing a pitch or press release, it's worthwhile understanding the journalist you are targeting. Fostering genuine connections with journalists is a fundamental aspect of effective PR, both in The Netherlands and everywhere. Rather than relying on generic mass email spamming, it's crucial to invest time in building authentic relationships and put yourself in their shoes by focussing on providing relevant information without resorting to overly promotional language. This starting point ensures that your communication aligns with the expectations of the journalists; Dutch journalists, like others across the world, are under greater pressure now more than ever; financial, workload, and even threats to life resulting from their work. And just like elsewhere, by making sure you save them time, you'll increase your chances of getting greater media visibility. Start with the most newsworthy information to ensure that journalists quickly grasp the essence of your story. While supporting background information and quotes are essential, presenting the core news prominently increases the likelihood of grabbing journalists' attention in a culture where brevity is appreciated.
In a country as relatively small as The Netherlands, face-to-face meetings can be invaluable for those involved in business education communications. These meetings provide an opportunity to deepen relationships, understand journalists' preferences, and align pitches with their coverage areas.
To make your news story more appealing to journalists in The Netherlands, provide context by connecting it to ongoing events and major headlines. This helps journalists understand the relevance of your news within the current news cycle and, because Dutch audiences have access to such a variety of international and national media, if possible try to use local or specific data and explain why the news matters to Dutch readers. This approach makes your story more attractive to journalists focused on domestic issues and aligns it with the interests of the local audience.
Writing press releases in Dutch enhances the chances of the press release being picked up. If you are not a fluent Dutch speaker, however, do not use translations as English proficiency is widespread enough in The Netherlands that journalists will still be able to understand your work, nonetheless.
Where and when to pitch
Email remains a staple, and crafting concise, engaging, and personalised email pitches demonstrates a thorough understanding of journalists' interests, enhancing the chances of grabbing their attention.
When it comes to follow-ups, particularly with phone calls, be really selective. Reserve follow-up efforts for the most newsworthy pitches, avoiding unnecessary emails for less time-sensitive stories to respect the priorities of busy journalists.
Leveraging social media platforms remains really important; while X/Twitter still is the most used by Dutch journalists, LinkedIn is on a sharp increase of popularity. WhatsApp is seen as very personal, and using it to send a message to a journalist who you have not built a rapport with could be very antagonising.
These are our top tips for when it comes to working with journalists in the Netherlands. For more advice, or to find out more about what we do at BlueSky Education, get in touch today.
Having studied at top institutions including Sciences Po, City University of Hong Kong, Oxford Brookes University, KIMEP University and having completed his Masters at the University of St Andrews, Alex’s insider knowledge means that he genuinely understands the inner workings of universities and higher education institutions. Alex has won awards for his academic writing and is fluent in both English and French, and proficient in Spanish.