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How to Do PR Outreach for Higher Education Institutes

PR (Public Relations), allows education establishments to increase their brand awareness, allowing the target audience to learn more about the college without having to visit in person. This aids in solidifying a higher ed institution’s image.

By highlighting the institute’s distinctive qualities and increasing knowledge of its academic offerings, faculty, activities, and events, PR can help higher ed marketers attract prospective students and even faculty. PR can boost the institution’s enrollment of both domestic and foreign students.

Investing in PR marketing can also help higher ed institutions raise funds and grants by making their school, college, or university appeal to the individual, corporate, and government supporters. 

So if you are wondering how to do PR outreach for higher education institutes, you’ve come to the right place.  

let’s start with a basic understanding of PR, its benefits, and how you can design an effective PR strategy. 

What is PR Outreach?

what-is-pr-outreach

PR outreach is the process of contacting relevant journalists, influencers, or media outlets to introduce your higher ed institute, create relationships, and raise brand recognition (mainly through media coverage).

Even if the definition of public relations outreach hasn’t changed much over the years, the targeted results, techniques, and methods for media outreach have. Getting backlinks, publicity on online channels, or reaching out to reporters via social media were not previously prioritized. 

The reality is that there are several ways to do public relations higher education outreach nowadays, but you need to find creative approaches to promote your high ed programs. So why should you invest your time in PR outreaches? 

Let’s find out!

Importance of Doing PR Outreaches for Higher Education 

From the standpoint of education, digital PR can benefit every institution differently and in a variety of ways. Every institution will have its own unique objectives. These objectives may include raising the number of applicants from a particular nation, emphasizing new programs, sharing ranking success, or publicizing the outstanding research being conducted by their professors, to name a few.

Here are the primary benefits of doing higher education public relations.

  • Improved brand awareness
  • Increases organic traffic
  • Establishes your higher ed institution as a thought leader
  • Higher visibility and rankings

Improved brand awareness

Brand recognition is one of the primary ways PR assists higher education organizations in meeting marketing goals. PR allows you to feature your school and programs more extensively so you can cover more ground and answer more questions from potential pupils. Furthermore, PR can help you create a unique brand identity for your higher ed institute that can define your mission statement effectively. 

Online scalability, including PR, email, digital, and social media marketing, can raise brand awareness up to 50%. PR expands the number of possible touchpoints your school has with prospective students and not focusing on this aspect of marketing is one of the most common higher ed marketing mistakes that can ruin your chances of getting more enrollments.  

When your PR does well, it increases your chances of getting included in prominent outlets without paying the high costs required with typical marketing approaches such as social media marketing.

Increases organic traffic

A higher ed institute witnessed a 103% rise in organic traffic and a 121% increase in website impressions after a series of digital PR efforts proving that PR can significantly improve your organic traffic. 

PR can help you share the news of your campus and the certifications you are offering. If your PR is promoting the courses and certifications you are offering, the PR will attract prospective students looking for specific degree programs. The relevant PR organic traffic helps in lead generation for higher education.

Why?

Students frequently select the college or institution that will advance them along the desired career path, and your material is one of the first things they look at when researching colleges.

Furthermore, suppose a recognized thought leader works at your institution. In that case, prospective students are more likely to be interested in knowing more about you in exchange for learning from that individual.

Establishes Your Higher Ed Institution as a Thought Leader

Public relations may boost your content marketing strategies even more with the ability to inspire thought leadership. This is when the previously mentioned faculty involvement comes into play.

The contribution of teacher competence in influencing student academic achievement is 91.8% according to statistics. This indicates that, partially, students’ academic achievement relies heavily on teacher competence. 

Therefore, when you profile your competent faculty members or persuade national or industry journals to mention them, you may position them as thought leaders and reliable sources in their fields. This has the dual impact of strengthening a faculty member’s status in their sector and increasing your institution’s appeal to potential students interested in that faculty member’s area of expertise.

Higher Visibility and Rankings

Visibility and rankings are the fourth unique method PR may help you reach or even surpass your intended marketing goals. Google and other search engines pay attention to the information your institution produces and the content that connects to it. When such material is of good quality and originates from reputable sources (Huffington Post, Washington Post, etc.), search engines regard your institution favorably and reward it with more exposure and higher ranks in search results.

According to research by Ahrefs, out of billion web pages, 90.63% do not get any traffic from Google. So to ensure that your webpage is not one of them, you need to pass link juice to different platforms, which can ultimately help improve your visibility and Google ranking. 

The combination of following detailed higher education SEO checklists, using an effective social media marketing strategy, and adopting new digital marketing techniques are the contributing factors in designing an effective PR strategy. 

Higher Education PR Outreach Templates

Higher education press release outreach seems tricky, but it doesn’t have to be about heavy words and marketing jargon! Instead, you can share the latest happenings on your campus, your student’s academic or extracurricular achievements, or your future plans. 

Here are some PR outreach templates that can help you understand how to submit a press release for higher education t news or PR agencies. 

Share your campus in the form of “upcoming news”

Sharing the facilities of your campus can help prospective students know your institute better and help them make a decision regarding selecting your education institute. Here is how to pitch the outreach if you want to invite prospective students to your school.

“Hello,  

I just heard about your publication covering the latest news related to the education sector. Our school was recently featured in (talk about accomplishment). We have some news coming out (talk about news) and would love to share more information with you. Let me know if you are interested to know more about it.

Thanks

Your Name

Designation (Institute Name)”

The infographic outreach email

The term infographic is loosely used here; this template lets you share the latest happenings and news related to your school. 

“Hello, 

I recently came across your articles focusing on the latest advancements in higher education. For example, my university just established a new research facility that can help educate (a number) of research students. 

Let me know if you want to check it out.

Thanks

Your Name

Designation (Institute Name)”

Steps to Launch PR Campaign for Higher Ed Institutes 

The modern university is a complex institution, and its PR goals are just as diverse. In order to get the most out of your higher education PR campaign, you’ll need to take some important steps to get started on the right foot. Here’s what you need to do to launch a successful higher-ed PR campaign.

  1. Finding the interested faculty members
  2. Conducting media training and introductory interviews
  3. Pitching your faculty to media
  4. Create media opportunities
  5. Improve communication with the reporter
  6. Build relationship
  7. Use the metrics to track the performance

1. Finding the interested faculty members

The first step is to speak with your faculty members. Gather information on who is interested in becoming industry experts and their areas of competence. This information will assist you in deciding what themes to write about and which media to contact for faculty features.

2. Conducting media training and introductory interviews

It is not enough to just request that your faculty members begin generating material and share their perspectives in national and industry media. You must also prepare them, as many will likely be inexperienced. Introductory faculty interviews are a fantastic approach to achieving this since they provide faculty members a taste of what they may anticipate from their thought leadership moving ahead.

Here are some pointers to assist you in conducting these interviews, whether or not you have previous journalism experience:

Research your faculty members

The primary step for conducting media training is researching your faculty member. You will also need to finalize the topics and questions you want to ask them ahead of time, but don’t forget to focus on each person’s hobbies and skills.

Prepare for each interview as if you were a reporter

The next step is to prepare your faculty members to answer the question posed by the reporters. Don’t put too much emphasis on answering each of your queries. The pace of your discussion is also vital, as every skilled reporter understands.

Ensure that each faculty member understands the interview process

Not everyone is familiar with the interview process, and your faculty members are no exception. Therefore, you will need to educate them about media timeframes so they can provide concise answers in a limited time. 

Conduct media training programs

This approach is helpful for both group and individual sessions. In addition, this will help to prepare your teachers for every type of interview.

Encourage faculty members to answer comfortably

Answering a question is essential, but you must educate the members to answer a question naturally and comfortably. If they are not comfortable with a question, they can skip it. 

3. Pitching your faculty to media

You may begin marketing your faculty members’ expertise to members of the media once you’ve trained them for interviews and other forms of content development. A well-structured media pitch includes the following components:

  • A well-planned lead
  • An intriguing call-to-action message (CTA) to generate student leads
  • A proposal for value (why your faculty member should be chosen over other experts)
  • A final thought
  • Whenever feasible, personalization

You should also conduct preliminary research on the receivers of your pitches and use a distribution and list-building tool like Muck Rack to speed up the outreach process.

We also advocate using platforms like Quoted and HARO to discover journalists and media members interested in discussing your desired themes. Following up with media people who do not answer within the first couple of days is all that is required to sell your faculty members and arrange interviews for them.

4. Create media opportunities

You’ve indeed received at least one yes from a media member and arranged at least one interview at this phase in the PR process. It’s time to help your faculty member take advantage of the opportunity you’ve created by making the procedure as simple as feasible. This includes attending the interview (if one is scheduled), giving copy editing for email queries and replies, and outlining detailed editorial rules for byline publications.

5. Improve communication with the reporter

After you finish the interview, your work is not completed. But, in reality, this is only the beginning. Your goal as a public relations manager is to maintain the relationship you’ve built with the journalist reporters before and even after publishing your faculty member’s interview or byline.

The next step is to email the reporter your faculty member’s details and a link to your school’s program website or the faculty member’s bio page. This section is critical since it provides the much-needed backlink to enhance your rankings and exposure. Maintain contact with the writer until their piece is published, and then continue cultivating your connection with them for future interviews.

6. Build a relationship

One thing to remember while developing connections with these reporters is that they must be authentic. Reporters are people, too, and no long-term success has been attained by just manipulating others for their purposes. When it comes to a story, a reporter is more likely to contact the person with whom they have the greatest, most genuine connection rather than someone they believe is exploiting them for their advantage.

7. Use the metrics to track the performance

It’s critical to maintain a careful watch on your KPIs and the influence of your PR. You can use Ahrefs, and Google Analytics, and compare your current traffic to older stats for accurately evaluating the performance of your PR. 

Corporate reputation assessment, traffic analytics, domain authority, backlinks, and conversion rates are all the metrics you need to track to establish the success of your PR campaign.  

Examples of Great Higher Education PR Campaigns 

Considering the above information, there is no doubt that higher education PR campaigns can bring fruitful results for your school in the form of increased traffic, brand awareness, and enrollment numbers. So let’s see PR in action!

Ellucian and DVE Partnership PR

This PR is about the partnership between Ellucian (higher education technology solutions provider and DVE Solutions (consultancy). It was published on Cision PR Newswire, where the collaboration and its impact on digitalization were discussed. 

Considering the impressive organic traffic of 4.7 million, 378K referring domains, and 7.0 million organic keywords – you can rest sure that your PR will get increased exposure. This makes a PR valuable, as it can directly influence your organic traffic and enhance your exposure.

Additionally, this PR also got a natural backlink from TMCnet. With organic traffic of 15.0K, the PR got high referral traffic. Considering 26.5K referring domains and 38.7K organic keywords –  this natural backlink to the published PR from this authoritative website also helped the PR get a massive referral traffic boost. 

Furthermore, the PR got a second natural backlink from Wavy which boasts organic traffic of 878K, 39.5K referring domains, and 486K organic keywords. These impressive stats also directed referral traffic to the PR. 

As the PR was successful in securing natural backlinks from websites with impressive organic traffic, it can be considered an example of a successful higher-ed PR.

Conclusion

After reading this guide, we hope you are better equipped for PR success than many higher education organizations. In reality, PR does have a greater influence on school admissions than you might think. All you have to do to succeed is remember the following crucial points:

  • Engage with your faculty members and use their knowledge through media partnerships to your (and their) benefit.
  • Accept the news cycle and its advantages in terms of internet engagement and follow the higher education marketing trends.
  • Keep track of the marketing analytics for each byline or mention that was given to your university or individual academic members.

And there you have it! You’re now well on your way to developing a successful, ROI-driven PR outreach for higher education institutes that rivals the efforts of the country’s top colleges.

Good luck, and don’t hesitate to get in touch with Orion if you want help choosing the best higher-ed marketing agency. We’ve assisted hundreds of higher education institutions like yours and edtech marketing services in exceeding their KPIs, and we’re always eager to help more!

Rayed Chaudhry

Rayed is passionate about marketing and interested in learning new ways to hack (legally) marketing platforms to help businesses achieve growth using unconventional methods. Prior to starting Orion, Rayed has worked in various marketing positions and spent millions of dollars across different ad platforms.