Enrollment Growth University: Higher Education
Enrollment Growth University: Higher Education

Episode 227 · 11 months ago

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't have to publish what an institution wants them to publish. So by sharing stories and messages through the media, you'll gaining weight and relevant and important because of this 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 their college or university. Whether you're looking for fresh enrollment growth techniques and strategies or tools and resources, you've come to the right place. Let's get into the show. Welcome back to enrollment growth university, a proud member of the connect Du podcast network. I'm Eric Alson with Helix Education, and we're here today with Stephanie Mullins, associate director at Blue Sky Education. Stephanie, welcome to the show. Thank you so much,...

Eric. It's a delight to be speaking with you today. Delighted to have you here and talk with you today about 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 background on blue sky education and your role there please? Sky Education is one of the leading PR consultancies for universities and business schools globally. We work with institutions across 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 former journalist and then I went to the dark side and join pr so I know exactly what the media are looking for and how journalist like to work because I was there, and also I still write for the likes of the Economist and other publications today. So I always stay in tune with that and understanding really how institutions can use the media to get the messages that they really want to share 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 Roman growth opportunity today for higher and I think it's so important to recognize how impactful media relations can be. I have discovered many institutions doing it effectively and shame that they are boosting enrollment really seeing student applications from key geographies, key age ragees, key target markets that they want to be but there are still so many institutions and programs that haven't quite worked it out yet and understood how to do it effectively. Many seem to understand it can be effective but haven't quite worked out how to make that possible.

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

...and we've all seen, we all know different deans and voice chancellors and and different spokespeople who have a fantastic way with words and they really position their messages and their institution so well, especially in today's world when people really want to connect with others and if you're looking at studying and institution, you really want to understand what they stand for and things or presidents will senior leader can really get these messages across and get them across 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 to want to study there. Let's talk about the media opportunities that are worth it from a time people value standpoint and those...

...that aren't. For instance, let's say you get some local stories. The deaner senior leader is flattered to be featured 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 it is so spread out audience wise, how do we make this actually move the needle on our enrollments? Kind of work. That is a fantastic question and 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 media work? 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 help them to cross this. I did that studying luxury was perfect if you do it in France, because everyone already knows and all really associates fronts with luxury and luxury brands and hambugs and pursuings and...

...things like that. So it's a natural connection to make. And through making this connection through a media as fantastic media article in the New York Times, they actually saw a twenty percent increase in applicants from the US. So it's about having not only the right message but also that you're sharing it in the right place. So we're sign back to that goal. What's going to get you to that goal? Are you sharing 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 tier one opportunities ones that you can just shoot for an amport squarely? Do we have to build up these these senior leaders over time to get increasingly in progressively bigger opportunities? What does that trendline look...

...like and how high up should you aim out of your reach? That's a great question and it's really about ensuring you know what the journalist and what newspapers and particular key target media are really focusing on. So, for instance, reaching out to your comms teams or your agencies and how they can help advice says on what newspapers and what journalists are writing about at that time. So how can you sit into what they're speaking 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 is a 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 being seen 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 our media relations teams were really big and centralized and I've seen those same roles evolve and shift toward social over time. I think ten to fifteen years ago we thought local media is our only gatekeeper to tell our story. We are forced to storytell through them. Now we have our own decentralized platforms. We rely on 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 that better, 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 refer to them, are really impactful because you control the messages and you get to say exactly what you want to say. But people know that. So when they've seen those tweets, those social media...

...posts and that the things that the institutions are posting on their own website, they they're smart people. They understand that that's exactly what the institution wants to say. Now a journalist or an editor doesn't have to publish what an institution wants them to publish. So by sharing stories and messages through the media. You're gaining weight and relevance and important because of this third party endorsement. It's basically saying to people no one has to 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's being spoken about because it's so wonderful. That's not a university pushing out its own messages because they just can. They can go on to twitter and tweet it. It's something that someone else has...

...said. Yeah, that's in really interesting and really good and we need to speak about it. And said that reason it's so much more influential and powerful and I would really encourage anyone listening now just to take on board what that could mean, in addition to all of those channels they're already using. Definitely wonder four thoughts today. Can you leave us with any next steps? Advice for institutions listening to this, considering if they are effectively impacting pitching the media well enough. They want to see high impact storytelling. What's their next step? Fabulous. So if anyone listening to this. It is came to do that outreach, then absolutely look at what 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 get someone blacklisted by a journalist or editor. So it's really important to get it right and not to lose that credibility or that opportunity to start that relationship and really develop that effectively. And then, secondly, make it interesting when you reach out to a journalist, and I usually suggest emailing is the best idea because a lot of people are extraordinarily busy and would preferring email that they can read in their own time as in a phone call, and work out what's interesting and start that with that pitch. Begin with the things that's really going to catch someone's attention and don't go on for paragraphs. I usual to suggest one or two paragraphs should be enough to someone to get their message across really effectively about why a journalist should cover a particular institution. Story, Stephanite, is one full stuff. Thanks so much for your time. Today and advice for reaching out to key journalists. How...

...about a folks want to reach out to 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 drop me an email at s mullins at Blue Sky HIMPRCOM. And that's our website to please. Guy Highs from POCOM. Click on business in higher education and have a look about blogs and it. That's plenty of advice on there, and feel free to get in touch as well. Awesome, Stephanie. Thanks so much for joining us today. Thanks, Derek. Attracting today's new post traditional learners means adopting new enrollment strategies. Helix educations data driven, enterprise wide approach to enrollment growth is uniquely helping colleges and universities thrive in this new education landscape, and Helix has just published the second edition of their enrollment growth playbook with fifty percent brand new content on how institutions can solve today's most pressing enrollment growth challenges, downloaded today for free at Helix Educationcom. Playbook. You've been listening to enrollment growth university from Helix Education.

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

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