In 1819, ESCP business school, as it’s now known today, was launched as a Ecole Spéciale de Commerce et d'Industrie, teaching students on key topics like entrepreneurship and business. This was the birth of graduate management education, and helped forge the pathways for other leading institutes in this area like Harvard, Wharton and Stanford – who have gone on to educate, hone and develop some of the world’s leading thinkers, politicians and CEOs.
But, what is graduate management education?
The graduate management education of the early 1800’s has of course evolved drastically to what we see today, however the fundamentals of this early teaching are still apparent. In 1819, ESCP business schools programmes focused on management science and technology, law and political economy, or applied sciences (chemistry). However, in 1908, Harvard Business School created what would go on to be the flagship, prestigious programme for all leading business schools round the globe, even until this day, the MBA.
Though the MBA has certainly been the flagship programme at most graduate management institutes, other programmes have emerged over time that have gone onto be just as successful at developing educated, conscious and world-leading minds. Whether it be the Executive MBA, an MBA targeted at working professionals, the Online MBA, targeted for learners who value flexibility, or more specialist Masters programmes such as the Masters in Management, Masters in Finance or the emergence of the Masters in Business Analytics over recent years.
But with thousands of graduate management institutes offering similar programmes all around the world, apart from an already world-renowned brand name – how can they promote their programme to potential students and really differentiate themselves. Well, the key to doing so, is through PR. But what is the best approach for highlighting specific graduate management programmes?
Use programme directors expertise
Utilising the knowledge, expertise and skills of the programme director is a key way in which a graduate management programme can be promoting in the press. A programme director could write about key trends in the wider market, and how their programme fits into this, or be interviewed on how the programme has evolved over a number of years, or how the specific programme is adapting to changes and demands from students, such as this example from the Financial Times, with Imperial College Business School’s MBA Director discussing the rise of Online MBA programmes during the covid-19 pandemic.
Alternatively, using the professor’s title as programme director of a specific programme, the professor can pen op-eds and have interviews on the relevant topic of their programme, using their background and research expertise to further promote the programme and their school’s know-how in this topic. Here’s an example of a programme director of the Masters in Energy Systems Management at Durham University Business School discussing the push for zero-carbon with Energy Monitor, showcasing their expertise in this area.
Utilise current students
Working with the current students of the programme, a graduate management institute can help to push out a real-life, third party testament of exactly what studying that programme is like to other future prospective students. A student can give an honest opinion on the programme, why they decided to study it at the specific institute in the first place, the key and interesting aspects of the programme, how it is living up to their expectations and whether they are enjoying their experience and finding it valuable. For example, Thierry Dusautoir, an ex-France rugby player and current Executive MBA student at emlyon business school discussing his experience on the programmme so far, and how it is helping his career.
Use careers and admissions directors
By using the careers and admissions directors for programmes in the media, the graduate management institute can showcase to potential students that they have huge expertise in the area of helping to secure their place on the programme, but also helping them to secure their desired career outcomes post-graduation too. By utilising these voices the careers and admissions teams will be seen as leading authorities in their area, and can really showcase the extra mile they go for students and alumni from the programme in ensuring their experience was valuable, fruitful and gives a return on their investment.
For example, this op-ed from a Careers Consultant at Vlerick Business School discussing how networking can help your career, and tips for networking during covid-19, remote working times.
Utilising successful alumni as spokespeople, who can talk about the full experience of the programme, from the admissions process, all the way through to the end of result of being promoted, securing a new role, or perhaps even becoming an entrepreneur, will be a huge testament to your institutes impact on their career.
Showcasing those students who have graduated from the programme and achieved their career goals, and are grateful for their experience at the institute for helping them do so, is a great way to promote the real-life actual impact of the programme, and looks much more authentic coming from someone who does not directly work for the business school.
For example, this Poets & Quants interview with a Masters in Management alumnus, who graduated from the programme and went on to become an entrepreneur, talking about his experience on the programme.
Highlight your differentiators
Though with there being thousands of MBA programmes across the globe, many of them will seem similar to potential candidates. That is why it is important to highlight any key differentiators on your schools programme. This could be a study or international trip that is innovative, slightly different or quirky, like this example in the Economist of students from HEC Paris visiting a monastery on a study trip. Or perhaps a practical business project that give students a hands-on business experience, like this piece from Alliance Manchester Business School, focused on the not-for-profit sector, which featured in Yahoo Finance.
Graduate management education as a marketplace is dynamic, with business schools and countries competing for talent across the whole globe of potential candidates. Therefore, in this sector it is now more important than ever to stand out, showcase your differentiators and make your voice be heard to potential applicants, candidates and alumni – and the way to do so is an effective PR strategy.