Yes, they’re the Dean. Yes, they are the head of the school. But no, they shouldn’t be your only spokesperson.
First of all, Deans are busy people – they have students to cater to, faculty to lead and a school to run. This sometimes makes it difficult to participate in public relations, which can often be very fast-paced. Deans hold a forward-looking perspective on a school's trajectory, usually bringing insights from its historical evolution too. However, with media relations and press enquiries, business schools occasionally may put forward the Dean as a spokesperson for an area they are just not well suited for; the common case of dean-ial.
So when should you engage your Dean for press enquiries?
- School Milestones: Just as a CEO’s perspectives are crucial during significant corporate events like funding rounds or acquisitions, a Dean's insights hold equal importance for business schools. When a school reaches major milestones, such as launching new programmes or significant anniversaries, your Dean's leadership can provide invaluable context and contribute to a well-rounded narrative for media.
- Industry Events: Once more, when representing the school at events or welcoming prominent guests, the Dean makes the perfect media spokesperson as representative of the entire faculty. If the King comes to visit, get the Dean out and about in front of the cameras!
- When They Are The Experts: Deans possess diverse experience, rooted in their roles as accomplished researchers within their respective fields. When confronted with media inquiries relevant to their academic background, beyond their deanship, they are eminently qualified to share their expertise – not solely representing the university, but rather as authorities in their own domain.
These are the perfect opportunities to position the Dean. If they are otherwise occupied, or the media enquiry doesn’t necessarily fall within their remit, then there are plenty of other people at your school you are able to engage for your public relations….
7 people who could speak instead of the Dean1. Faculty Members:
Business schools can benefit greatly from professors and instructors who are experts in various business disciplines. They can provide valuable insights and analysis on industry trends, research findings, and current events. It is important to note that expertise can be found at all levels of faculty, from newly hired professors to department heads. Additionally, specialised research centres within the business school, such as entrepreneurship centres, innovation labs, or sustainability initiatives, offer unique perspectives and insights from their directors in their respective areas of focus. By leveraging the knowledge and expertise of these individuals and centres, business schools can provide more tailored responses to media enquiries.
2. Senior Leadership:
The Dean is not the only leader of the business school, and faculty who have specific roles such as Deans of research, COOs, and Deans of Executive Education, for example, are just as well suited to speak on behalf of the whole school as the Dean.
3. Prominent Researchers & PhD students: Researchers who may not have quite yet become professors / reached their doctorate, but who have published impactful studies, research papers, or are working on insightful work can provide valuable insights on their research findings and how they relate to real-world business challenges. Don’t dismiss their work!
4. Alumni: Successful alumni who have achieved notable positions in the business world can share their experiences, career journeys, and personal insights into industry trends, and can offer a practical perspective on the value of the business school's education. In particular, business schools often nurture start-up ecosystems. Founders and entrepreneurs within these ecosystems can share their experiences and insights into the start-up landscape.
5. Current Students & Student Bodies: Current students can provide a fresh perspective on student life, emerging trends in business education, and the ways in which their experiences are preparing them for careers in the business world. Equally, representatives from clubs and organisations within the business school, such as consulting clubs, entrepreneurship societies, and finance clubs, can share insights about their activities, events, and initiatives.
6. Advisory Board Members, Industry Partners & Distinguished Speakers: Business schools often collaborate with industry partners, including corporations, start-ups, and consulting firms, whose representatives can provide valuable insights into current business challenges and opportunities. Advisory boards comprised of influential industry professionals can also offer valuable connections, expertise, and insights that can be shared with the media. Additionally, guest speakers such as CEOs, industry experts, and thought leaders can enhance media relations efforts by leveraging their expertise and insights.
7. Let The Data Talk: Sometimes, just sharing research is enough. If a study or published work is relevant to the press, then it can do all the talking you need!
By considering a range of spokespeople beyond the Dean, institutions can provide a well-rounded perspective that captures the intricacies of academia, resonates with diverse audiences, and reinforces the legacy of the institution. If you want to learn more about how we can help you achieve your PR goals, contact BlueSky Education today.
Having studied at top institutions including Sciences Po, City University of Hong Kong, Oxford Brookes University, KIMEP University and having completed his Masters at the University of St Andrews, Alex’s insider knowledge means that he genuinely understands the inner workings of universities and higher education institutions. Alex has won awards for his academic writing and is fluent in both English and French, and proficient in Spanish.