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Why an effective PR plan is crucial for attracting potential students to your school

As universities and business schools around the world face an increasingly competitive recruitment environment, it’s vital that educational institutions continue to come up with creative and strategic ways in order to attract students.

If done correctly, a PR plan to attract students to your business school can have a long-term influence, ultimately building a strong and permanent reputation. To help you reach these heights with a PR campaign, there are a few effective tips that you can follow.

An initial plan goes a long way

When it comes to PR, sitting down before starting your campaign is essential. Although often overlooked, a well thought out strategy can make all the difference when it comes to your results. Correct planning will help you organise your ideas, make sure your key messages are clear, and will help you decide who your target audience is. Of course, plans may not always go as intended, but as long as you have basic foundations for what you want to achieve and how, it will be much easier to keep track of your campaign.

planning meeting

Have realistic expectations and start small

It is easy to become overwhelmed by the thought of creating a communication strategy, but it’s important to have realistic expectations from the beginning. As well as this, start small – you don’t need to tackle everything. If you start with a manageable plan, you can leave room for it to grow and develop. Your plan may even be as simple as reviewing past success and repeating that process.

Focus on one thing at a time

When deciding how you are wanting to attract students to your business school, it’s important to start with a big-picture goal. Do you want to attract students from a particular country? Or are you wanting to entice students to a new program? Or perhaps you have opened a brand-new campus? Either way, focus on one thing at a time. It is always better to do one thing, and do it well, rather than starting lots of things and being stretched too thin to complete the task effectively.

Once you’ve chosen a big-picture goal, narrow it down further – what is your time-frame? Do you have a budget? By addressing these important questions, you’re giving yourself focused guidelines to measure your success.

student attention

Think about your audience

Before you can choose how you want to deliver your PR message, you must decide who it is that you want to deliver that message to. In this instance – it is prospective students. Once you’ve decided who your target is, you’ll want to choose your preferred platform for delivering your message. With students, it is essential that you understand their digital behaviour, such as finding out where they consume their information, and what platforms they prefer.

The more you know about your target audience, the more effective your strategy will be. For students, it is all about social media. Social media hasn’t just changed the way we communicate – it’s changed the way we gather information and make our decisions. Social media is ingrained within society and successful social media campaigns can shape how prospective students perceive your business school as a place to study.

While it varies from country to country, TikTok, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram dominate social media usage but a range of other platforms, such as LinkedIn and X (Twitter) are also very popular. Therefore, you should aim to keep your business schools’ social channels as up-to-date and active as possible.

With this in mind, it is also important that business schools share media coverage on their social media channels in order to showcase an active media presence. Publishing student stories on social media is a great way for potential new students to connect to the school and to gain a more personal perspective.

And finally - don’t forget to build relationships with journalists

Of course – it’s not all about social media. An effective news story in a well-read publication can still go a long way in rousing the right attention. Therefore, building relationships with journalists must not be underestimated when formulating your PR plan and strategy in attracting more students to your business school.

While this is a more long-term approach, you can definitely start building relationships with journalists before, during, and after your campaign. Building a long-term relationship with a journalist who might be willing to write about your business school’s new initiatives and achievements is invaluable.

If you’d like support in building your PR plan, contact BlueSky PR today.

Originally posted April 2020, updated November 2023

olivia-webAuthor: Olivia Nieberg

Olivia is experienced in delivering targeted media visibility for her clients through her relationships with key journalists and editors, from important dedicated trade press such as Global Education Times, BusinessBecause, HR Director and Finance Monthly to major international media like The Financial Times, VICE and Forbes. This helps her to consistently understand trends in the media agenda and effectively capitalise on them for her clients.

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