During my time working in education PR, I’ve learnt how to best overcome the challenges involved in getting coverage in the media. You’ll have a breadth of knowledge at your disposal, whether it is research papers, or an academic opinion, that deserves to be publicised in the media. However, some research or opinion will have an angle to them that journalists just immediately love, and will result in it being featured in multiple publications, including national and international press.
Last week my colleague, Kyle, spoke about some previous high-quality coverage that the BlueSky Education team secured. Today, I’ll be talking about why these received such good media coverage.
Imperial College Business School offering their business students lectures led by holographic professors was a huge success in the media.It was covered in over 200 publications, including top tier publications such as The Financial Times and the BBC. This was so successful in the media because Imperial are the first academic institution to use holograms for their lectures, it allows lecturers to engage with their students in real-time. It is revolutionary. A perfect example of how technology is improving and the effects this has on higher education. Furthermore, this type of technology can connect people globally. It can reduce the need for travelling, connect people together without having to spend hours on a plane - the environmental impact of this could be major. The different benefits of this technology is another reason why this was so successful and different media outlets covered it in different ways. It meant that Imperial’s story was so successful in the press because it was a first and was interesting to the masses as well as niche audiences engaged in the likes of technology, education and more.
The research paper from Nazarbayev University about the benefit of horse milk in relation to cow’s milk did so well in the media.BlueSky Education were able to secure coverage in The Daily Mail, The Times and The Financial at a time when the media were almost entirely focused on COVID-19 – why? The uniqueness of this research paper really worked in its favour, it essentially asked ‘should we be drinking horse milk instead of cow’s milk?’ which is certainly something that grabs a reader’s attention. It focused on the health benefits, stating that horse milk had a number of health benefits that cow’s milk did not. This is brand new research that has never been reported before – it also goes against general consensus as it’s different from the normal media reports about plant-based milk being the healthiest – and it’s why it was picked up by multiple publications when it was near impossible to get any non COVID-19 related coverage.
The UCL School of Management academic’s research paper about the pros and cons of being considered handsome in the working world was perhaps unsurprisingly popular in the media.The research is interesting, easily accessible and is something that most people would be intrigued by and thus interested in reading about. The research highlighted that handsome men were more likely to be hired in collaborative workplaces, because they were seen as more competent. However, they were less likely to be hired in competitive work environments as competence was seen as a threat. The BlueSky Education team and the researcher agreed to run with the angle that handsome men were less likely to be hired in competitive work places as that is the opposite to what most people expect – something the media loves.
When looking through research, something that goes against what everyone else says will often be successful.The media don’t like to report things that firstly, everyone else has been reporting (unless it’s in the public interest) and secondly, something everyone already knows. It’s a common thought among most people that handsome men will have an advantage when it comes to a job, the idea that being handsome actually worked against them never crossed peoples mind which is why this research did so well in the media – because it said something different.
For something to be this successful in the media it often needs to be relevant to the average person, something that is new, or goes against the norm – all three of the examples highlighted above had at least one of these, which was why they worked.