By Andrew Blum*
If you’re about to join a college or university PR department or pick up one as an agency client, the audience and media targets are multi-pronged and complex– so get ready.
There are number of factors to consider when doing PR in this kind of environment. For starters, is the institution private or public? And is it a college with a unique undergraduate brand to promote or a university with graduate schools that are each their own PR and marketing animals?
The internal audiences consist of students (and their parents) as well as the administration, professors and researchers. Externally, the biggest audiences you want to influence with PR are the alumni and donors.
On the media side, there are “town vs. gown” issues in the city where the college or universities are located. As the PR people for the school, there are distinct local, state and national issues and media you will have to broach.
And no college would be complete without sports and the NCAA. Along with that comes a host of PR issues and the sports media, covering championships and losses in addition to scandals.
The combination of all of these issues contributes to the image of the school and puts it in the best light for college rankings and national accreditation bodies.
Lastly, to track your multi-layered PR program for colleges and universities, make sure you have a clipping service like Critical Mention. It will help you earn the client’s “degree” of trust.
*Andrew Blum is a PR consultant and media trainer and principal of AJB Communications. He has directed PR for professional services and financial services firms, NGOs, agencies and other clients. As a PR executive, and formerly as a journalist, he has been involved on both sides of the media aisle in some of the most media intensive crises of the past 25 years. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @ajbcomms.