Public relations is changing, and it’s important to change with it, especially if you’re in the higher education space. If you want to succeed in PR in 2019, it’s important to implement storytelling, utilize stakeholders, work with the media, and create genuine relationships with your target audience. To help you get started, we’ve put together a collection of strategies you can use in your public relations outreach. But first, let’s look into why staying apprised of changing PR standards in 2019 is critical to success. A digital PR strategy in 2019 can often have many moving parts, so here are some public relations strategy ideas that will get your mind ticking.
Why We Use PR in Higher Education
One of the biggest drivers of student enrollment is the public’s perception of your higher education program. And who better to showcase what your brand stands for than your faculty, the one’s who will ultimately be teaching those enrolled in the program.
Furthermore, if a higher education institution isn’t seen as desirable, prospective students will be unlikely to enroll or even apply. This is where PR comes in. If you develop a strong, well-constructed strategy, you’ll increase your ability to engage with an audience outside of traditional academia.
What is a Public Relations Strategy?
Although every higher education institution has professors, many are not utilizing their potential to its maximum ability. Professors work with students every day, and they can have incredible insights into those seeking a degree from your program. They also tend to move in many different circles within society, making them the perfect candidates to become part of wider-reaching PR stories about your school.
If you are to dive into today’s news, whether it be the New York Times or an industry specific publication such as Healthline, one thing you will always see is insight from experts. With universities being home to global thought leaders, they are seen as highly desirable by reporters and editors at major publications throughout the world. Having experts or faculty quoted in these publications is great for brand awareness and SEO goals.
Doing so can help you attract potential students from their pool of readers and get more people talking about your program. The more people know and talk about your program, the more students and growth you’ll see in the long run. This is the ultimate goal in public relations.
PR Strategy Examples
Expert commentary is a PR method you can use for both national and industry-specific publications. It’s very efficient for improving the public’s perception of your business. It involves setting up interviews for your stakeholders with reporters; their quotes are then included within a wider story. These interviews can be about anything pertaining to your industry and are a great way to get more eyes on your business or higher education program.
If you don’t currently have contacts within the press or are struggling to decide on topics to comment on, websites like HARO (Help a Reporter Out) and Twitter are great for connecting reporters with experts who can help them write their articles. Here’s how to pitch your expert commentary the right way.
Bylines and Opinion Articles
Rather than an expert being quoted, a byline or opinion article is where stakeholders write articles for placement in national and industry-specific publications. These articles are often structured as a commentary on a trending news story. They are also an excellent way to increase engagement with your brand or program and share your thoughts on real-world issues.
One of the biggest indicators of a successful PR strategy is your brand’s story and the role it plays in the trends that are important to you. Excelling in public relations is no longer just a matter of putting out a press release to announce what’s happening at your company or school. It’s now about having a wider-reaching and more significant voice. It’s about staying relevant as public relations practices continue to move on.
One of the best ways you can use storytelling in your strategy is through the news. Keep in mind, though, that there are now numerous methods of gathering news. Analyze your business model to determine your ideal audience and the best news platform you can use to reach them. Once you’ve done this, you can start to implement the strategies we’ve explained thus far and reap the benefits of a solid PR strategy.
Benefits of Solid PR
No matter what industry your business or higher education program is part of, you’re likely to see great benefits from a well-crafted PR strategy. Here are some you can expect to see when implementing the approaches described above.
A positive relationship with the public is a major goal of PR. our relationship with your target audience is largely dependent on how you’re portrayed online and in the media. Similarly, working with reporters for news stories, expert roundups, and bylines, can allow you to express your company voice in more flexible ways.
To see growth in any of these relationships, you’ll need to be proactive. This means keeping the lines of communication open and learning about their needs through your professors, current students, and alumni. Once you’ve done that, put your program out there as a solution to their problems. Make sure you’re able to back up your claims with clear data, positive recommendations, and an active presence in trending topics and industry discussions.
Your relationships with reporters can also be rewarding. Having established contacts at publications like CNN, NBC, and WSJ can help you get your name and message to a larger audience that you may not be able to reach otherwise. So long as you’re motivated in pursuing and building these relationships, the benefits will inevitably follow.
Digital public relations in 2019 can also have wonderful SEO benefits. Obtaining a backlink from publications can create huge boosts in the ranking and organic traffic for your program pages. If you’re a business or agency, this means more customers. If you’re a higher education institution, these boosts often translate to boosts in enrollment.
No matter what industry you’re in, these increases can have a huge effect on your bottom-line.
Need help implementing a PR strategy in 2019? Contact us now! We’d be happy to work with you.
About the Author
George has been part of the Circa team for over four years. He graduated from Plymouth University, England, with an MSc in Marketing Management and Strategy. George, our PR manager, is passionate about creating high level opportunities for professors within national publications. While out of the office you can find George playing football (soccer) or on the golf course.