You’re looking for a PR firm to help out with your international PR efforts and come across a firm that states “we have offices based in New York, London, Hong Kong, Paris and Berlin, in order to penetrate our key markets in the most effective way possible”.
If you are social media savvy, live in North America or are under the age of 25, you may have already heard of the catastrophe that was Fyre Festival. Or if, like me, you have been doing Dry January, you may have discovered it through the documentary Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened, which recently aired on Netflix.
Why we tell MBA stories to increase applications for Business Schools Storytelling is often considered vital for human survival. It’s how we have communicated since we were sat in caves – I think it is just as important now as it was then. And in the world of PR there often needs to be an emphasis on storytelling over selling.
Business schools and universities are successful for a number of reasons, their longevity, their location, their specialities, but their life blood is the quality of their teaching and research - and for this they need the best academics. It’s a highly competitive global market and there are never enough good academics about – so focusing on how to attract faculty is key. How do you optimise your chances of getting the best people? Firstly, you need to get on their radar. You need to be publicising your institution. As we’ve discussed previously, PR is more effective than advertising – advertising these days suffers from the worldliness of any readership – people view adverts with the viewpoint, “well you are going to say that because you’re paying for an advert.” Instead, it is a question of publicising your institution in a way that gives you third party affirmation – you want to be pushing yourself out to show that you are an employer of choice. You need to have PR about what it is like to be an academic at your institution, how good the leadership is and the environment. What are academics looking for from an employer? When it boils down to it, academics are going to choose where to go based on the institute reputation, how much they get paid, and what their career prospects are. But also, academics live and die by their research (and their teaching), that’s how they move forward, by continuing to publish new material. Beyond this, academics also, particularly in the business school world, don’t live solely on campus, an awful lot of them have a sort of a permeable membrane between the business world and the academic world, and so they want to be working with companies and providing consultancy. Academics want to be known, and be on the radar of big companies, so that when they are thinking about getting in a business school academic to advise on a particular topic or be on the board for a particular project, they are the first academic that comes to mind. How does this compare with your institute’s objectives? Popularising and wider dissemination of your academics’ research is very important from the business school and university point of view, because it shows you have great academics working there and that they are doing interesting research. But it is also good for the individual academic because they are getting known in the circles that they might be recruited for consultancy work. The CEO or C-Suite type person isn’t going to be poring over an academic journal but if he reads of an academic’s work in the Economist or The Wall Street Journal etc. it’s going to get noticed.
Another month, another influx of pioneering research papers. But which ones are destined for the headlines? The first step to securing phenomenal press coverage for business schools and universities is to identify exactly which research, and which student or alumni success stories, are most likely to catch the media’s attention. It’s equally vital to know when material lends itself to a press release, to an opinion editorial or to interview articles. Sound complicated? Not to worry, these tasks fall to us. Recognising press trends in business and higher education There are some trends in the news cycle that can be tapped into time and time again; internationally hot topics today include blockchain, diversity and AI. Looking beyond these, different nations’ press networks have their own tailored interests; UK media, for example, is predictably receptive to any particularly insightful comment on Brexit. Exploiting these popular themes might generate quick hits, but standing out to a journalist in amongst a sea of PR pitches is ultimately about thinking outside the box. What haven’t people heard about yet? Which publications reach your target audience most effectively? Or who can offer comment on a popular topic, from an alternative perspective?
As we enter 2019, now seems a better time than any to look back over the previous year and some of its key themes for business schools. Working with schools across 10 different countries, BlueSky Education naturally has an abundance of professors who have a lot to say on a wide range of topics. In fact, in 2018 alone BlueSky Education delivered over 1,000 pieces of unique coverage for its clients across a whole host of areas, in international, national and trade publications. Let’s take a look at three of the top themes which featured the prominently in BlueSky Education’s coverage this year: Artificial Intelligence (AI) Despite the actual nuts and bolts of how it operates being unbeknown to most, AI still managed to be a topic which dominated much of the news agenda in 2018. Whether it be the world’s first AI news anchor unveiled in China, the launch of Uber’s driverless cars or the Robot Football World Cup in the summer, the topic of AI was something that was on the lips of many this year. The discussion around AI is one that many of BlueSky education’s clients also contributed to, with over 40 pieces of coverage being focused on this topic, including this piece on Uber’s partnership with one of our clients, Ecole Polytechnique, in a bid to create flying taxis, which featured in The Guardian, BBC and CNN. Or this piece of research from a professor at one of our clients, BI Norwegian Business School, which showed how emerging economies were more open to AI for business management purposes, which featured in Forbes. Gender diversity
The media industry often sees Christmas as a time to wind down and relax and even minimise pitching or distributing press releases. However, I think Christmas can offer PR’s gems of wisdom and tips, below I have summarised my top three. 1. Make a list, check it twice Making strong journalist lists is pivotal to being a good PR person, especially if you are dealing with a number of different journalists and media opportunities at the same time. Santa Claus makes a list of all the children he needs to deliver presents to, and also so his elves make the right presents and don’t miss any children. When PR’s are sending out that all important news worthy press release, they need to make sure they’re not missing out on any key journalists. 2. Follow a star Every PR person should be utilising all of their key spokespeople. Here at BlueSky Education we are always promoting and directing journalists to key professors, Deans and researchers and we’re listening to their opinions and expertise. This is particularly useful when their area of expertise is a news topic or they have a recently published research paper. The three wisemen didn’t get lost because they followed a star, PR’s should know which stars to follow. 3. Make sure there’s room at the Inn Don’t pitch a story that has already been talked about from every side. It’s too difficult to be spotted in a crowded market. My advice would be either pick a different story to promote or come up with a new angle on a pre-existing story. Mary and Joseph couldn’t fit in the Inn they had to find an alternative sleep in the stable, I think the same can be applied to PR as you shouldn’t try and get in somewhere where you simply don’t fit. Christmas is also a great time to show kindness to the media, especially those journalists you frequently contact and who regularly publish stories from your clients. From all of us at BlueSky PR we wish you a Merry Christmas.
More than 100: mentions for our clients in the FT, Forbes, and the BBC targeted press releases delivered mentions for our clients in QS Top MBA, AMBA, Biz Ed Magazine, THE, BusinessBecause, and Poets&Quants
Brexit has become hard to escape. It seems that every time you open a newspaper, turn on the radio or check your rear-view mirror, BAM there it is.
Return on Investment. The crux of so many PR client meetings. Gone are the days of walking into a client’s office with a stack of newspapers that they’ve been featured in since the beginning of your contract; no longer can the value of PR be realistically measured by how much the table shakes when you drop that stack of coverage. So, how can it be measured?
In November, I had the pleasure of hearing from and spending time with representatives from some of Europe’s best and well-known business schools, at the GMAC European Conference in Berlin.
If you want to be a good PR person you need an effective strategy, working in the media is competitive and PR is often more of an art form than a sales technique.
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?
The appetite for academic research in the media is huge. Studies and statistics lend credibility to comment pieces and provide great insight into current trends. But it’s not quite as straight forward as throwing dissertations at journalists!
Hans Christian Andersen once famously said that ‘to travel is to live’. And while my grandmother never left the British Isles – she was genuinely even afraid to cross big bridges near her home in the countryside – we now live in a world with sprawling cities, where we regularly board planes, cross borders and travel the world.
When reporting back to your clients or manager, would you rather show them 20 individual pieces of PR coverage you’ve gained, or five? Naturally, you’re always going to say 20. The more coverage you gain for a client or business the better surely? It’s just more evidence of your value and more proof that their money is being well spent on PR, isn’t it?
As a specialist PR agency in the business education market, there are plenty of reasons why schools choose to bring us on board. If you’re considering hiring a specialist consultancy like us too (or you’re just here out of professional curiosity) then it’s probably time to look more closely at what having an agency’s support could achieve. With institutions having such wildly varying goals, here are a number of reasons why a business school might want to work with us: Raising the profile of a key member of faculty – perhaps the Dean of the business school or a renowned academic. Getting coverage in the press that hits both the quantity and quality mark can effectively boost a significant person’s profile. We often use the example of securing an op-ed for a professor in The Guardian that lead to him being inviting to speak at the World Economic Forum. Results like this speak for themselves. Boosting applications for certain programmes – are application numbers for your MBA lower than you’d like them to be? Get that course into the right press – show off your students, highlight that incredible alumni, position that academic lead – and watch the knock-on effect of climbing student application numbers. Appealing to quality students - Your EMBA not getting the quality of applicant that you really desire? Are you in need of better scholarship applicants? Placing articles within the right media outlets, like the Financial Times or The Economist, can attract a high calibre student. Numbers aren’t everything after all, getting quality applicants is vital.
It has been an interesting few weeks for Elon Musk. His recent tweet that he had “funding secured” to take Tesla, a $50bn public company, private, sparked a wealth of problems for regulators, investors and his board. Although initially stocks jumped in value, it came to light that the tweet was not approved by anyone else at the company and that funding was not completely secured. This provoked an investigation by US financial regulators into whether the tweet broke trading laws, sending stocks plummeting and costing investors millions. Musk also faced criticism for his choice of listing stock value as ‘$420’ as the number has become synonymous with cannabis use in the US. A flurry of articles appeared questioning his sobriety including allegations from rapper Azealia Banks that he was indeed taking drugs at the time of the tweet. Shortly after, Elon Musk gave an erratic interview to the New York Times during which he said the past year at the company had been “excruciating”. With an almost tangible sense of desperation in his tone and much conjecture that this was merely a damage control tactic, Tesla shares fell more than 8.5% in early trading. Elon Musk is indisputably the face of Tesla and is hugely valuable to the company – so how much damage has he done and could great PR save him? It’s hard to escape the sense that we are complicit in the widely-publicised breakdown of a very talented but hugely overworked man. And this revelation isn’t necessarily out of the blue – Musk was recently widely criticised for tweeting that Vern Unsworth, one of the divers that rescued the Thai schoolboys earlier this year, was a ‘pedo guy’. This was in retaliation to Unsworth’s claims that the miniature submarine Musk intended to save those stranded “had absolutely no chance of working” because the inventor “had no conception of what the cave passage was like”. It appears that the time has come for the company to invest in a respected and well-recognised executive who is capable of growing a business of this size, rather than relying on a visionary who often sleeps on the factory floor. If this were to happen soon, which I believe it should in order to restore public faith in the management of the company, Musk would have to take on a different role, perhaps as a chief operating officer. But could these actions spin the situation on its head? It’s unlikely, due to the impending US Securities and Exchange Commission investigation which could, theoretically, sanction or fine Tesla or even remove Musk from serving on the board. The conundrum the SEC now faces is that if it does not punish Musk, it unleashes a whole new set of dynamics in the public markets. It could normalise – or at least destigmatise – chief executives’ use of social media to move stock. Giving clemency to the ‘special circumstances’ of Musk’s teary confessions that he barely sleeps and is essentially in the whirlwind of a personal breakdown would mean that all public companies should receive the same treatment. Unsurprisingly, Tesla has hired a well-regarded PR agency who will no doubt be advising on the situation in order to mitigate the worst results of the SEC investigation. I will definitely be keeping my eyes on what happens next!
This last week has provided a lot of PR fails - which have been so awful, they have literally made headlines themselves. Here are my top three. Melania Trump The first, and possibly the worst, PR fail is Melania Trump’s jacket. It’s fair to say that President Trump and the first lady have faced a lot of criticism, but somehow, I think wearing a jacket to visit a migrant child detention centre that says ‘I really don’t care, do you?’ is possibly one of the most insensitive things Melania could have done. Unfortunately for her, Melania Trump's apparently empathetic visit to the Mexican border is now completely overshadowed by the unempathetic message on the back of her jacket. Burger King Another embarrassing PR fail this week comes from Russian Burger King. Obviously seizing the opportunity to make headlines with the world’s media spotlight on Russia thanks to the World Cup, Burger King Russia decided to create a social media campaign offering free burgers for life to women who get pregnant by a football player. “Each will receive 3 million rubles, and a lifelong supply of Whoppers. For these girls, it will be possible to get the best football genes and will lay down the success of the Russian national team on several generations ahead. Forward! We believe in you!" Burger King in Russia have since apologised for the social media campaign. I would have thought that Burger King wouldn’t want to encourage Russia having a bad reputation for playing on sexist stereotypes, particularly in advertising, but this campaign really felt like something from the 1950’s.
There are 409 million blogs on Tumblr alone. Although this statistic may feel intimidating and evoke a sense of shouting into the void, business schools should actively try and engage with blogging. Schools should be aiming to post new information frequently, whether this be regarding new faculty, student diaries or exciting changes within the department. In this digital age, blogging should become an integral part of your marketing plan as it can help you to gain prominence in your field and set you apart from your competitors. I will now outline four reasons why you should get involved:
This week the annual MaKi London media conference rolled around and, as per usual, BlueSky Education was a proud sponsor of the event.
Social media is a great platform to share and gain greater exposure for your client coverage. However, many people are mistaken into thinking that simply posting a link to this coverage is enough to entice people to click the link and view the content. In a generation where people are seeking the quickest, most engaging and informative stories, a simple link with no extra added content is not enough to convince people to view your coverage. Here are a few tips on how to form your social media posts so that your client coverage gets the best exposure possible: Include insightful comment Including thought-provoking and insightful quotes from your coverage in your post will encourage more people to click on and read your client’s coverage. The quotes will act as a teaser for those who are interested in the subject and give them a short snippet of what to expect from the piece, encouraging them to read the article for more. Use relevant hash tags Including hashtags which are relevant to the articles subject area in your post will gain greater exposure within its specific targeted audience. The likelihood is that your own personal social media accounts do not have a large, specific following of all the subject areas that your clients gain media coverage within - adding these hashtags will make your content more accessible to those who it is targeted at. Encourage discussion Posting a link to your coverage and including a call to action such as asking for thoughts and comments from other social media users will not only encourage more people to read the article, but also encourage interaction from them joining in with the discussion and getting people talking about your clients. Tag relevant people Tagging the relevant social media accounts, such as your client and the news outlet which your coverage appears in, will directly inform them of the coverage and encourage them to both interact with it and share it. This will expose the coverage to a much larger and diverse audience, thus gaining it a greater readership.
Making a mistake when you’re a PR professional is not only costly but also detrimental to your company’s reputation, which in some cases may never be regained. So here are three of the key mistakes to avoid making when planning and executing your PR strategy. Bad timing Lesson one: Timing can work against you. Particularly when there’s not enough time to prepare in advance of an event or when you’re trying to organise interviews with journalists but your client doesn’t leave you with enough notice to make arrangements. To combat this, PRs should be advising their clients on how the media industry works and how you need to allow time to effectively get results. Here at BlueSky Education we pay attention to timing. We regularly promote academic research but we make sure we do it when relevant content is a hot topic in the media, and we target journalists that are writing about it. Be Reliable You don’t like it when people cancel meetings at the last minute, so try to avoid letting journalists down. It’s important to build lasting relationships with journalists based on them trusting you. If you can’t help them, let them know right away, don’t make promises that you can’t deliver on. The same goes for dealing with your clients, do not be flaky and make sure they are always in the loop.
Meeting deadlines is vital. It is not rocket science to see why this is such an important rule in PR.
The international business school market is becoming increasingly crowded. There are over 13,000 business schools in the world, and you have the tough task of convincing students and faculty that your school is the right one for them.
Social media platform Twitter boasts over 330 million global users, and has quickly become the go to site for journalists, PRs and the general population, to view and share news. With around three quarters of journalists using Twitter every day and over 70% of them stating that Twitter is a valuable professional tool, it harnesses the potential to be a great platform for PRs to utilise, to the benefit of themselves and their clients. However, with around 500 million tweets sent every day, it can be hard for PRs to really stand out from the crowd, and reap the full benefits of the social media platform. So, here are a few simple tips on how a PR professional should utilise Twitter. Follow and engage with relevant journalists With the majority of journalists regularly active on Twitter, it is the perfect place to connect with them – simply by engaging with their content. This is a great way to build a personal relationship with a journalist, by liking, replying and sharing your opinion on their tweets. This will strengthen the relationship between you and a journalist, making you more memorable - which is likely to make them look more favourably upon any stories and ideas that you decide to pitch to them.
The media and its approach to news has changed, it’s not enough to churn out a press release and hope it will be picked up by established media such as The Financial Times, Times, Telegraph and Guardian.
Now that I’ve entered the world of PR, I can see the lessons that some films can teach us about the varied world of public relations. I’ve selected three film quotes that stood out to me and the messages they convey about this industry. Be creative “Almost Famous” is the story of a young, up and coming journalist in the 1960s who is given the job of interviewing his favourite band. He ends up in a world of sex, drugs, and rock and roll, without his overprotective mother knowing, he ends up falling in love with one of the bands most infamous groupies. My favourite PR quote from the film is: “Is it hard to make us look cool?” Making your client appear interesting to the media is a major aspect of public relations, and sometimes it seems impossible to make them “look cool”. In the world of Business Education, sometimes clients want you distribute challenging research, or a story that might have already been told. This is why creativity is important, taking the time to come up with a new angle in order to provide the media with a fresh way of telling, or adding to, a story. If you can successfully execute this, you will build your clients' profiles and credibility around the world, essentially making them “look cool”. Don't over-complicate things “One Day” is about two university graduates who spend the night together after their graduation ceremony. Dexter and Em are shown each year on the same date to see where they are in their lives, sometimes they are together, sometimes they are not. The best PR quote from this film is: “I think we like to complicate things when really it’s quite simple”. To successful grab an editor’s attention you have to develop the knack of writing in a simple way, making the wording engaging and understandable. The same can be said when working with university research, to transfer it from academic language into a message that you can send to the media which is as simplistic as possible. This is the best way to reach a wider audience. Make the right decisions
Working with business schools on day-to-day basis, you learn about the incredible array of courses that they offer. With some specialisms like luxury attracting very different profiles to finance or perhaps entrepreneurship, I wondered what our team would be interested in studying.
Relationship building is key when it comes to gaining success in public relations – especially in the world of business schools.
Now is the time to make some professional resolutions which will make you a better, more productive PR person.
From the Daily Mirror to the Wall Street Journal, pretty much every widely-read newspaper uses clear language for their readers.
As 2017 comes to a close, you’d be forgiven for thinking the only significant (or fake!!) news stories this year have involved the Brexit negotiations and Donald Trump. However, if you look a little closer, or have somehow managed to block the words ‘Brexit’ and ‘Trump’ from appearing on your phone (please let me know how!), there has been a number of other news stories on the agenda in 2017 – each of which has provided opportunities for the savvy PR operator. So as the year comes to an end, here are just some examples of how to use news trends and how BlueSky earned great coverage for our clients. Gender pay gap In July, the BBC succumbed to pressure and revealed the salaries of its biggest stars. In doing so they highlighted again, the substantial gender pay gap that exists in most organisations, with the highest paid male, Chris Evans (no, I’m not sure why he gets paid so much either), earning almost 400% more than the highest paid female. The report created a trend of news stories focusing on gender in the workplace and equal pay, which even persuaded the UK government to order all large firms to publish their own salary figures. This provided BlueSky with an opportunity to promote research from one of our clients, which found that women scored higher than men in four out of five leadership skill categories, making them better leaders. Not only was this research highly relevant, but it helped to further the discussion on why the gender pay gap exists. Our press release received coverage in over 40 different publications, including The Times and The Metro. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics
When I walked into work this morning, I could hear giggling before I even opened the door. Kerry, a Senior Account Manager and Funny News Finder, had emailed us all a link to a story about a new robot author. The author was created by the team at Botnik, a community of writers, artists and developers who collaborate with machines to create ‘strange new things’. They had fed all seven Harry Potter novels through their predictive text keyboard and instructed it to compose a chapter from a new Harry Potter story. The result is called Harry Potter and the Portrait of what Looked like a Large Pile of Ash and it’s well worth a read. *Spoiler alert* ‘“Not so handsome now,” thought Harry as he dipped Hermione in hot sauce. The Death Eaters were dead now, and Harry was hungrier than he had ever been.’ Hilarious. But this got me thinking – could robots ever tell us stories? Google certainly thinks so. As we speak, the company is pouring money into a robot journalism project in which computers will write 30,000 stories a month for local media. The project will be run by five human journalists, who will use official open data sources to automate reports about health, crime, employment and other subjects. Despite the overwhelming majority of experts and research suggesting that automated articles would lack the insight needed in subjective topics – for example, imagine the intricacies of a court cases or political matters – it appears that there are numerous companies already operating in this area.
LinkedIn boasts an impressive 500 million users, so surely presents an opportunity for the savvy PR? However, like most social networking sites it’s overcrowded and noisy, making it difficult for anyone to make a real impact.
Avoiding disaster, navigating networking, and pitching like a pro – what advice would our BlueSky team have for the world of the PR professional?
You can’t always get it right. Sometimes, regardless of the amount of thought you put into an idea, the time you spend tweaking the pitch or the number of journalists you’ve contacted the results you so desperately want just don’t come through.
Yesterday I undertook an MBA in one day. First I learned about finance – how to price commodities, the intricacies of corporate bankruptcy and what tactics airlines use to price tickets optimally. Then I moved onto organisational behaviour and discussed how best to structure interpersonal networks in the pursuit of innovation. Lunch was spent talking about a start-up craft beer initiative, an app that gamifies city walking tours and how Georgia has built on its history to successfully market wine – all over excellent Korean food and drink, I might add. In the afternoon there were lessons on why it isn’t always a good idea to innovate, how ‘citizen science’ helps researchers to collect large data sets, why ‘joiners’ are at least as important as founders and, variously, the best way for salespeople to negotiate, reprimand customers and inspire colleagues. Ok – so perhaps not quite a whole MBA – but a full and incredibly informative day nonetheless. This is the part of my job that I love the most; meeting smart people and talking about their ideas and opinions. In this instance the context was a day on campus visiting a long-standing client, German business school ESMT Berlin to meet with various faculty members and a group of MBA students. I have been doing this job a while now and have been to many business schools and met with many faculty members and students – but the enthusiasm, insight and talent of the people in these institutions never fails to impress and inspire. Each visit reinforces to me my belief that education and impactful research are the critical cogs in a society aiming to improve and move forward. Conversely, I always seem to come back to earth with a bump the day after upon opening a newspaper and reading about the latest Trump outburst, celebrity scandal or corporate misdeed. Still – with people like those I routinely meet at our business schools helping to shape the future of business and society, I can’t help but feel hopeful. Here’s to more knowledge sharing, increased openness and excellent Korean food. Contact us to discuss how we can showcase the enthusiasm, insight and talent of your institution.
Not all media opportunities hit the button of finding their way into media such as the Financial Times, the BBC or the Wall Street Journal. The media does, however, offer a vast array of specialised niche publications. Reaching out to some of these can be through routes which require a fair degree of lateral thinking. PR maze Members of Faculty or professors have in-depth knowledge on subjects that can plug into some of these outlets. Understanding their area of expertise and identifying what journalists may be seeking can present a challenge that’s a bit of a PR maze. It’s also at times about understanding the media. What makes this tougher – and in many ways exciting these days, particularly in the UK, is the huge breadth of publications. When Global Healthcare put a call out for comments, it appeared at first too technical for a wider audience. Further research showed that this could be an opportunity for Dr Marisa Miraldo, Associate Professor in Health Economics at Imperial College Business School, who had provided valuable insights into innovation in healthcare.
Journalist’s jobs are becoming more and more time-pressed, with their inboxes increasingly flooded with PR’s pitches. Now more than ever, for a journalist to buy into a pitch, it needs to capture their attention. But how as a PR can you make your pitch stand out from the crowd ? Make sure it's newsworthy Journalists are inundated with pitches daily, so ones that are boring, uninteresting, and un-newsworthy are destined to fail before they’ve even been sent. ‘The 5 best paints to watch dry’, for example, will never get coverage no matter how amazing your pitch is, or how slow a news week it has been. It is a PR’s responsibility to evaluate whether or not their story is newsworthy before pitching it. Deciding this beforehand stops you from wasting both yours and the journalist’s time, and avoids disappointment when your efforts inevitably fail to deliver results. Have a creative, engaging headline The first part of a pitch that a journalist will read is the headline, and many journalists will decide whether or not they will bother to read on purely based on how interesting that headline is. This is why it is important you pay as much attention to crafting an effective email header as you do to your pitch, as this will encourage the journalist to read more. Make it relevant You could write the most amazing pitch in the world, but if it isn’t pitched to the right publication, it will never be read. For instance, a pitch about a world-changing bacon product that actually makes you lose weight (if only!!), will never be read if you’re pitching it to ‘The Vegetarian News’. Of course this is an extreme example, however it has its relevance. It is important that, as a PR, you research exactly which publications are interested in the news you wish to share and, more importantly, which journalists from these publications are writing about it. This does take time, but it is a worthwhile exercise. After all, it is far better to pitch to five relevant journalists than scatter your pitch to 50 journalists who are not. Make it short and snappy Journalists barely have time in their day to open all their e-mails, let alone read them thoroughly. So, what makes you think they will have time to read your pitch, which is as long as a thesis? You must make your pitch short, snappy and to the point, summarising the story and ensuring the journalist can fully understand its significance. Cut out all of the unnecessary information – a journalist will not want to read waffle. It is important to ensure that every single word in your pitch is carefully selected leaving the journalist wanting to know more. A pitch should be like a wine tasting, the journalist should have a small glass, and want to come back to you for the whole bottle. Do not oversell
Business and politics have intertwined for thousands of years, to the point where they are almost impossible to unpick. For PRs working within the business sector, it is crucial to have an awareness of current events, particularly at a time when the future of our trade and relationship with the EU hangs in the balance. Capitalism This week, some of Britain’s top business leaders took part in an FT City Network panel, where they decried management greed, corporate tax dodging and investor short-termism as factors rendering the current state of capitalism defective and in need of reform and modernisation. Baroness Shriti Vadera, the former minister who now chairs Santander UK, commented that, “The underlying promise of western capitalist economies — that a rising tide lifts all boats — has been broken.” It was Aristotle who proposed a welfare state to appease the poorer parts of the population, which hugely outnumbered the richest, who were often politicians and businessmen. Over 2,000 years later, a grossly underfunded welfare system and the paradox of economic inflation whilst many face pay caps means that the gap between the rich and poor grows ever-wider. Baroness Vadera has a valid point when she says that ‘a better system’ is needed. Perhaps this is the source of civil discontent that many believe influenced the ‘Leave’ Brexit vote, a rebellion reportedly against underdelivering politicians and untrustworthy business ‘experts’. Brexit
Weinstein and the power of the media Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the last few weeks, you will have heard the Harvey Weinstein story. For obvious reasons, the scandal has been well covered by the media, however in the age of instant news, some people are already bored of it. In fact, I overheard someone in my local coffee shop opening a newspaper and sarcastically saying “oh look, more about Harvey Weinstein, it’s like there’s no other news”.
Over time many PR professionals or media relations specialists cut their teeth on local papers. And if as a young journalist you didn’t have a news sense it was quickly and often quite ruthlessly drilled into you. Covering court cases and council meetings, doing police and fire calls and covering tough and sometimes horrid assignments became part and parcel of learning the trade – and at the same time all working to high speed deadlines. When the agenda was slack and news was slow, you had to go out and find news. Building contacts and sniffing out a story was essential. You might also have to turn your hand to feature stories, come up with new and innovative ideas, so there was a bank of material for when the paper might have more space. The route into PR has changed All this was a grounding that in the last few years has dissipated from the scene as local newspapers have drastically reduced in staff numbers. It’s meant that the route into journalism and into PR has changed. Most come straight from university into PR agencies. Some may still find a job on a local paper or on a trade magazine or others make their way as bloggers. Where to then today for the new entrants into PR to acquire a news sense? Some can find themselves writing for the university or students newspaper to gain that news awareness. There’s those that may be pure naturals with an inquisitive mindset. Others on journalism or PR courses may be put through the grill to gather that sense of what makes news. Social media has meant that news travels faster and that can on its own make people more news aware. To really gather news sense there’s no better way than to read newspapers, listen and watch the news, to get that nose for what makes a story. Why news sense is so important
Like to see your name in flashing lights? Most of us would take joy from seeing our names and businesses in the newspapers, spoken on the radio, typed up on newswires – quoted as an expert in our fields, or highlighting an impressive company achievement. That’s something to show off. Isn’t it? Yes, but some have been known to fall under the curse of vanity PR, when achieving media coverage is just to show friends and colleagues and put up in an office. Attract your target market Rather than hunt coverage for the fame - vanity PR - some people need to be reminded that to be truly effective PR efforts should be channelled into attracting your target market. For example, The Financial Times, Wall Street Journal and The Economist are excellent publications to be seen in – but the niche, specialist outlets that your potential students, corporate partners or faculty are reading are just as important! Although they might not look as good in a frame, these mentions are building credibility and exposure in the right places. PR is best when being led by the bigger corporate picture. While some big name hits might make a few stakeholders and the odd professor happy, are they really delivering something in line with the business school or university’s goals and objectives? There needs to be a balance
So, what is Industry 4.0 and the future of work? Industry 4.0, or the Fourth Industrial Revolution, began as an initiative for the manufacturing sector, which was suffering from dwindling productivity. The scheme was initially a reaction to the global over-reliance on financial services sectors, which had grown exponentially over the last few decades. Factory of the Future The main technologies that comprise Industry 4.0 include artificial intelligence, big data, the internet of things and robotics. Combined, these technologies will be used within the manufacturing sector to create the ‘Factory of the Future’ . This will be a web of interconnected machines which create pre-programmed products, and upload data about this process without human involvement. For example, drinks factories could harness this technology by microchipping their bottles. The microchip could tell the machines which fluid it needs, which cap will fit and which label must be affixed as it progresses around the factory. Unsurprisingly, these technologies are individually spilling out into other sectors, such as medicine, legal and financial. There are currently huge advances in these areas, with machines helping with diagnosis, information management, research and even surgery in the healthcare sector alone. More meaningful work
Any PR and communications professional will agree that securing media interest and coverage for your faculty can been a time-consuming project. On many occasions, it can be tempting to just read the synopsis of the research they give you, draft a quick email and fire it off to a number of journalists. But this doesn’t always work.
What’s the point in creating wonderful blogs and providing insightful comment if no one ever reads it? Incredible thoughts deserve to be heard! We deal with plenty of them from pioneering professors and ambitious students. We thought it would be great to offer up our ideas on how to increase social media shares for the great content that you put out. I spoke with our resident social media expert here at BlueSky, Dan Stobbs, and he gave me his top four tips – Use visual content to increase social media shares Research shows that social media posts with images average around 2.5x more engagement than text-based posts. However, you should make sure that your image dimensions are optimised for each platform. Monitor trending hashtags The trending sections of Twitter and Facebook provide great insight into what your target audience and wider public are discussing. If you have some ready-made content such as research on the role of women in the workplace and a topic is trending like #womeninpolitics (which is trending as we discuss this post) then tweeting about it using that hashtag as your content can add real value to the discussion. Post when your audience is online Look back at your analytics to see the peak times that your audience is online and schedule your posts to maximise your engagement. Have sharing icons on your website
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.
We recently ran a poll asking business school and university PR and communications professionals what the most challenging aspect of their job is. The results - top PR challenges Writing impactful press releases Achieving top tier coverage Pitching research Arranging international meetings for senior faculty Writing impactful press releases Our top tips: Have a clear objective when writing and distributing a press release Where possible keep it under 400 words Use a headline that grabs a journalists attention straight away Don't be afraid to be controversial Ensure the first line relates directly to the headline and gives the main take away Work on the basis that if a sentence or paragraph doesn’t tell you something or develop the story then strike it out One quote is enough – this is your opportunity to give your release context and personality