As universities and business schools around the world face an increasingly competitive recruitment environment, and challenges surrounding the ongoing Covid-19 threaten student intake, it’s vital that educational institutions come up with progressively 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-lasting effect for many years to follow, 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.
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, and to 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.
Outline goals and limitations
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.
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.
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 the messages 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 behavior, 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 is not just changing the way we communicate – it’s changing the way we gather information and make our decisions. Social media is continuing to grow in importance among prospective students, and successful social media campaigns can shape how these prospective students perceive your business school as a place to study.
While it varies from country to country, Facebook, YouTube and Instagram dominate social media usage but a range of other platforms, such as LinkedIn and Twitter are also very popular. Therefore, you should aim to keep your business schools’ social channels as up-to-date and active as possible.
Media presence is important
In relation to the last point, it is 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. POLIMI Graduate School of Management in Milan did this perfectly when they shared the story of Online MBA student Giuseppe Stefanetti on their Twitter page, allowing prospective students to consider the schools online MBA program by reading about another students experience.
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.