High-Impact Media Relations in Higher Education

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Stephanie Mullins, Associate Director at BlueSky Education, joins the podcast to discuss the value of high-impact media relations as an enrollment growth strategy — even in a social world where institutions can control their own storytelling channels.

Now a journalist or an editor doesn'thave to publish what an institution wants them to publish. So by sharing storiesand messages through the media, you'll gaining weight and relevant and important because ofthis third party endorsement. You're listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education,the best professional development podcast for higher education leaders looking to grow enrollment at theircollege or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies ortools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's get into theshow. Welcome back to enrollment growth university, a proud member of the connect Dupodcast network. I'm Eric Alson with Helix Education, and we're here todaywith Stephanie Mullins, associate director at Blue Sky Education. Stephanie, welcome tothe show. Thank you so much,...

Eric. It's a delight to bespeaking with you today. Delighted to have you here and talk with you todayabout high impact media relations as an under tapped enrollment growth strategy and Higher Ed. But before we dig in, can you give the listeners a little backgroundon blue sky education and your role there please? Sky Education is one ofthe leading PR consultancies for universities and business schools globally. We work with institutionsacross the world to ensure that they are meeting their goals through the media.I myself has been at blue sky about eight years now. I'm a formerjournalist and then I went to the dark side and join pr so I knowexactly what the media are looking for and how journalist like to work because Iwas there, and also I still write for the likes of the Economist andother publications today. So I always stay in tune with that and understanding reallyhow institutions can use the media to get the messages that they really want toshare across appropriately and also ensure they're meeting...

...their wider institutional aims and goals.Yeah, your background on both sides of the storytelling, I I think,will be perfect for this conversation. Stephanie, perhaps to kick this off today,why do you believe that media relations is currently an under utilized in Romangrowth opportunity today for higher and I think it's so important to recognize how impactfulmedia relations can be. I have discovered many institutions doing it effectively and shamethat they are boosting enrollment really seeing student applications from key geographies, key ageragees, key target markets that they want to be but there are still somany institutions and programs that haven't quite worked it out yet and understood how todo it effectively. Many seem to understand it can be effective but haven't quiteworked out how to make that possible.

I love that background. So let'ssay you're in an institution, you're working with your mark I'm team or you'reon your mark I'm team. How should mar come teams be doing things likeleveraging their senior leaders, their student stories, their alumnae stories to try to createthese high impacting media opportunities? MMM Wow, that is a big questionand I love it. When it comes to senior leaders, the deans,the presidents of Vice Chancellors, whatever those senior leaders might be called, theyreally have an impact because their voice carry so much weight. So when youare using them to share your messages, they are going to have an impactbecause these people have scapture and it and basically they have a title that infirst they really know what they're talking about and many institutions haven't quite got togrips with how impactful these people can be...

...and we've all seen, we allknow different deans and voice chancellors and and different spokespeople who have a fantastic waywith words and they really position their messages and their institution so well, especiallyin today's world when people really want to connect with others and if you're lookingat studying and institution, you really want to understand what they stand for andthings or presidents will senior leader can really get these messages across and get themacross with weight and meaning so that anyone who might be interested, for example, in diversity or sustainability and how to make up planet a bit better,if they're seeing that an institution really care about that too, they're going towant to study there. Let's talk about the media opportunities that are worth itfrom a time people value standpoint and those...

...that aren't. For instance, let'ssay you get some local stories. The deaner senior leader is flattered to befeatured in this local mediap. You tick the box. You say good,I got Dean Harrison in the local paper. But in this current media landscape itis so spread out audience wise, how do we make this actually movethe needle on our enrollments? Kind of work. That is a fantastic questionand I always when I'm speaking with institutions, I always say think about that goal. What's the aim? What do you want to achieve from your mediawork? And I've worked with institutions for Inston, a particular one in France. He was really keen to increase that occasions from the US. We helpthem to cross this. I did that studying luxury was perfect if you doit in France, because everyone already knows and all really associates fronts with luxuryand luxury brands and hambugs and pursuings and...

...things like that. So it's anatural connection to make. And through making this connection through a media as fantasticmedia article in the New York Times, they actually saw a twenty percent increasein applicants from the US. So it's about having not only the right messagebut also that you're sharing it in the right place. So we're sign backto that goal. What's going to get you to that goal? Are yousharing the right message? Are you putting it in front of the right audience? And so before I hear a lot of presidents who are listening to this, columner mark arms teams and say get me in the New York Times tomorrow. help us understand what that pathway looks like it are. Are those tierone opportunities ones that you can just shoot for an amport squarely? Do wehave to build up these these senior leaders over time to get increasingly in progressivelybigger opportunities? What does that trendline look...

...like and how high up should youaim out of your reach? That's a great question and it's really about ensuringyou know what the journalist and what newspapers and particular key target media are reallyfocusing on. So, for instance, reaching out to your comms teams oryour agencies and how they can help advice says on what newspapers and what journalistsare writing about at that time. So how can you sit into what they'respeaking about and perhaps how can you provide a different angle on the story,something that perhaps people aren't talking about yet? Even better, if that angle isa little bit controversial or put across in a very pithy, interesting way, people are going to want to read about that and ultimately you're then beingseen and getting visibility in the right place in front of the right people.So ten or fifteen years ago on higher...

...ed campuses, I think that ourmedia relations teams were really big and centralized and I've seen those same roles evolveand shift toward social over time. I think ten to fifteen years ago wethought local media is our only gatekeeper to tell our story. We are forcedto storytell through them. Now we have our own decentralized platforms. We relyon social media, we rely on our websites to tell our own stories.Some of US believe that we're acting as our own media companies. Isn't thatbetter, or is it just still too small to be our comprehensive strategy?So social media and sort of owned media channels, is how we often referto them, are really impactful because you control the messages and you get tosay exactly what you want to say. But people know that. So whenthey've seen those tweets, those social media...

...posts and that the things that theinstitutions are posting on their own website, they they're smart people. They understandthat that's exactly what the institution wants to say. Now a journalist or aneditor doesn't have to publish what an institution wants them to publish. So bysharing stories and messages through the media. You're gaining weight and relevance and importantbecause of this third party endorsement. It's basically saying to people no one hasto say this. They are saying these positive messages and these wonderful success stories. Perhaps an alumni as started a fantastic business that is, you know,made multimillions. No one has to talk about that. It's taught. It'sbeing spoken about because it's so wonderful. That's not a university pushing out itsown messages because they just can. They can go on to twitter and tweetit. It's something that someone else has...

...said. Yeah, that's in reallyinteresting and really good and we need to speak about it. And said thatreason it's so much more influential and powerful and I would really encourage anyone listeningnow just to take on board what that could mean, in addition to allof those channels they're already using. Definitely wonder four thoughts today. Can youleave us with any next steps? Advice for institutions listening to this, consideringif they are effectively impacting pitching the media well enough. They want to seehigh impact storytelling. What's their next step? Fabulous. So if anyone listening tothis. It is came to do that outreach, then absolutely look atwhat those journalist and that that media writing about where you're keen to feature.Understand what they might be interested in. Don't pitch something that is irrelevant,that you wouldn't see. You can imagine...

...in that publication that will probably getsomeone blacklisted by a journalist or editor. So it's really important to get itright and not to lose that credibility or that opportunity to start that relationship andreally develop that effectively. And then, secondly, make it interesting when youreach out to a journalist, and I usually suggest emailing is the best ideabecause a lot of people are extraordinarily busy and would preferring email that they canread in their own time as in a phone call, and work out what'sinteresting and start that with that pitch. Begin with the things that's really goingto catch someone's attention and don't go on for paragraphs. I usual to suggestone or two paragraphs should be enough to someone to get their message across reallyeffectively about why a journalist should cover a particular institution. Story, Stephanite,is one full stuff. Thanks so much for your time. Today and advicefor reaching out to key journalists. How...

...about a folks want to reach outto you or your team? What's the best place for them to do that? With pleasure? So anyone can reach out to me. You can dropme an email at s mullins at Blue Sky HIMPRCOM. And that's our websiteto please. Guy Highs from POCOM. Click on business in higher education andhave a look about blogs and it. That's plenty of advice on there,and feel free to get in touch as well. Awesome, Stephanie. Thanksso much for joining us today. Thanks, Derek. Attracting today's new post traditionallearners means adopting new enrollment strategies. Helix educations data driven, enterprise wideapproach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new educationlandscape, and Helix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbookwith fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can solve today's most pressing enrollmentgrowth challenges, downloaded today for free at Helix Educationcom. Playbook. You've beenlistening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education.

To ensure that you never miss anepisode, subscribe to the show on Itunes or your favorite podcast player.Thank you so much for listening. Until next time,.

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