What education comms professionals need to know 2020 was a unique year to say the least, the COVID-19 pandemic had a huge impact on everything and left people looking to the media for information to help them guide them through it.
It’s natural to expect that, over the course of time, the ways in which a university or business school operates will change. The past five years alone have been testament to just how much the world of education has evolved; the advancements in and preferences for online education over classroom-based learning for example, or the shift in curriculum focus to highlight increasingly important topics such as ethics and sustainability, all in the pursuit of providing a better, more valuable experience for students.
It goes without saying, that 2020 will go down in history for a number of reasons: the COVID-19 pandemic, Brexit, Trump’s response to the election and the attack on the US Capitol, just to name a few.
Thanks to the rise in digital adverts, recent surveys tell us that we see 6,000 to 10,000 ads every single day – and the shocking thing is most of us don’t even notice them.
We can all learn PR lessons from events we see in the news every day. From the prime minister to football managers, the potential for negative media attention is never far away. What is important however is how your organisation responds to this media, and how you turn scrutinised blunders into something positive.
The pandemic has without a doubt made major changes to the higher education sector, changes that are likely to remain.
(Here’s a hint: the answer is YES!) When choosing where to study my own degree I didn’t just stick to reading university prospectuses and the rankings, I also took the time to look at what other people were saying about the institution and its programmes outside of what the universities chose to share. I read the stories of alumni and I took note of students who’d shared their experiences in newspapers, magazines and blogs.
2020 was a tough year for many in Executive Education. A number of organisations pressed pause on their programmes with leading business schools. Given the fact that much of in-person learning grinded to a halt, learning and development took a back seat as companies grappled with the immediate impact on their company, and many saw their own revenues fall, during the pandemic.
What is PR? As an institution, you might be interested in hiring a PR agency and wondering whether PR agencies are worth it.
How do you successfully improve your online reputation? Well, the key is to listen to what your potential students are talking about. To monitor where your competitors are appearing and to anticipate where your industry is heading. It’s about being and staying ahead of the curve.
Messaging has always been important for business schools. Whether for marketing communications, external media engagement or internal comms, how institutions frame key messages has long been crucial. This has never been truer than during the COVID-19 pandemic.
As Valentine’s Day wraps up, and love is in the air, it seems everyone is thinking about partnering up…
In 2017, MP Michael Gove famously said "people in this country have had enough of experts". And he may have been right at the time. In 2017, debate in the UK was fuelled around Brexit and its impact, with expertise being denounced as spreading fear and over-exaggerating. People preferred to listen to those that fit their preconceived agenda, and that they described as ‘normal people’, not experts who were often seen as stuck in their ivory towers.
Maximising the success of any institution or organisation often depends on having a winning PR strategy. Being able to impact the way in which your target audience – whether that’s stakeholders, prospective clients, and target consumers - perceive your organisation is vital to ensuring long-term success. And this doesn’t only apply to fashion brands, tech companies, or fast-food restaurants; this also applies to business schools and universities.
Many people only know what PR is from Mad Men or Sex and the City and, even then, it is a vague and often inaccurate understanding of what it really is. In fact, many people should look to better understand the real impact public relations can have for a brand or institution.
Having a winning PR strategy is vital to the broader success of any organisation, in any field, providing any service.
“Let’s do some PR for this”… A member of your faculty is hosting an event, or has published a book perhaps, or a new programme has been launched by your institution, and the request comes in… “Let’s do some PR on this.”
The early days of PR largely involved networking with journalists over the phone, face-to-face meetings, and building relationships with them in order to get companies, institutions and clients into newspapers and magazines. As such, prior to the internet, PR traditionally focused on print-based publications, TV and radio. But is it even PR now if we don’t include online media? With the growth of online marketing, the majority of PR professionals both in-house and in agencies today have shifted their focus further towards digital PR, with online publications becoming more and more influential.
You’d be forgiven for sometimes losing hope in the crazy year of 2020. Covid-19 has not only taken the lives of many of our loved ones, but also taken jobs, financial security and any form of ‘normal’ life as we know it. But there now appears to be a light at the end of the tunnel.
Key takeaways from Cision’s 2020 State of the Media report When the novel coronavirus became a global pandemic it swiftly changed everyone’s day-to-day life, and the media was no exception. The pandemic triggered a stay-at-home policy for millions of workers and that significantly impacted media consumption. Suddenly people even had more time at home and they needed a voice of reason from academics and experts alike as the world went into turmoil. But how did journalists feel about this? How has their work changed and what do they want from PR professionals now?
For any PR professionals, one of the fundamental parts of the work is to measure the success of what we do. Just like anything else you pay for; you want to make sure that the service you are paying for is worth it. But in the PR industry, that is often easier said than done.
Recently, I was posed the question “for start-ups looking to undertake a dedicated public relations campaign what works best - hiring in-house PR experts? Or, outsourcing to agencies who specialise in PR?”.
Millions of students from across the world go into higher education each year, but with each selecting from thousands of universities and business schools around the world, it is vital that you understand what students are searching for when deciding on where to study, and how to get your school to stand out from the crowd.
Not long-ago PR and SEO were two different methods of engaging the public or stakeholders, but things have changed. Now that the media landscape has become more digital and Google has placed more of a focus on the quality and relevance of your content, as well as the quality of the site – it is so important for institutions to use both PR and SEO to promote their content even further.
When looking for information on a university, or for a specific course to study, or even for how to boil an egg, we would all probably do the same thing: Google it. Then, when we choose which website to visit, it’s probably going to be from the first page of results. The top results you see depend on the SEO ranking of the content on that site. But what exactly is SEO?
Are you wondering whether to engage in PR? Or, perhaps you’re considering reducing, or removing PR services from your institution altogether. If either of the above are true – particularly the latter – please do read on…
If you’re familiar with business schools you will know just how important accreditations are. Speak to any business school students and they would advise you to seek out and apply to an accredited business school. Speak to any business school Dean and they will talk about the importance of the ‘triple accreditation’.
As the head of a business school or other higher education institution, a Dean is in a position of leadership with their profile inextricably linked to that of the institution – think of the Dean as the face of the school’s brand, possibly even their secret weapon.
Institutions can highlight their successful partnerships through PR activity – and attract new ones in the process Business schools are natural partners for many organisations, from big corporate companies to charities and non-profits. These partnerships work both ways – from the partner’s side of things, many organisations see partnering with business schools as an opportunity to give themselves an edge over the competition, as well as giving them access to some of the world’s best business talent of the future. From a business school perspective, big partnerships can bring successful internship opportunities for their students, international study trips, consulting projects as part of courses, and ultimately recruitment opportunities for their graduates. It is therefore essential that business schools highlight their successful partnerships through PR activity so they can not only showcase the fantastic work they are doing together, but to also attract further partners in the future, and potential students.
There are more elements to the PR function than many people first think. My colleagues and I have been talking about internal and external PR, explaining what it is why it is absolutely vital for many organisations.
When we talk about public relations, people usually think about it almost exclusively in an external capacity, i.e. looking to create a positive image of your company or organisation in the eyes of people and bodies outside of your institution.
COVID-19 has changed the world more dramatically than we have seen for generations. And arguably communication is now more important than ever. But how you do you maintain a sense of normality when people feel their lives have been turned upside down?
It’s no secret that the public relations industry has a challenge when it comes to communicating how it directly impacts the bottom-line. But what if you, the client, could maximise your return from the work your PR agency does for you?
Worthwhile investments must offer a return. Whether it is in a specific stock you have a hunch about, funding a business you like the idea of, or purchasing a property – you are always looking for results from that investment. But, in most of these, you are easily able to quantify whether your risk paid off, through stats and figures – did the stock you invested in go up? Did the company you invest in increase its value? Did the price of your house increase? Investing in public relations, however, can be a little more difficult to quantify in terms of return on investment.
Financial news outlets attract some of the biggest readerships and are amongst some of the most well respected in the world, with the Financial Times, Bloomberg, The Economist and Reuters amongst some of the most popular.
The Republic of Ireland occupies 26 of the 32 counties which make up Ireland, Europe’s second-largest island, with one-third of the country’s entire population residing in the greater Dublin area. Although it shares an island and a border with Northern Ireland, a part of the United Kingdom, it is not itself a part of the UK. Therefore, the Republic of Ireland has its own unique media landscape with a massively developing technology and business sector, making the Emerald Isle an up and coming destination for many international higher education students.
With a population of just over 329 million people, making it the third most populous country in the world, the USA is clearly going to be a key media target for any institution. But, more importantly, according to GMAC’s 2018 Applications Trends survey, 140,000 out of an overall 290,000 business school applications last year came from US-based applicants – over three times the size of applicants in Europe alone.
France is at the heart of Western Europe. Historically and culturally among the most important nations in the Western world, France has played a significant role in international affairs, with former colonies in every corner of the globe, and remains one of the world’s leading industrial powers. It’s home to around 66 million people that support the EU's second largest economy and enjoy reading some of the world’s most respected media publications.
India is the second most populated country in the world. It has an astounding diversity of religions, languages and cultures. Along with this, India has a flourishing media scene, with thousands of outlets operating in multiple languages. The mainstream media has more freedom that even before. The use of social media has grown exponentially with the increase in availability of technology. As a result, the media industry in India has expanded tremendously, so now is the time to focus on public relations and secure some great coverage.
Despite the turbulence of life in the UK at the moment, working out just how we might leave the EU, the country is still open for business. It’s time that business schools properly communicate their worth in today’s political climate.
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.
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?
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
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?
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?
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.
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.