Experts say promoting a brand during times of crisis strengthens it long into the future. Associate Director Stephanie Mullins, from specialist business education PR consultancy BlueSky Education, shares her thoughts.
Your institution’s brand represents who you are, what you stand for, and what you and your faculty can provide. Your brand is what people think of when they hear your institution’s name and it could be what determines whether students decide to enrol on a course or even if a high-profile academic chooses to accept a position within your faculty.
Unfortunately, some are arguing that it’s more difficult now to communicate what your institution represents and can provide to the public. The impact of the coronavirus pandemic has meant that in-person events have had to be cancelled, postponed, or moved online. This means prospective students and faculty have often been unable to visit campuses, with the public exposure institutions can take advantage of becoming somewhat limited.
This is why ensuring your institution’s brand is positive and visible in the media right now is so important, as it’s one of the most effective ways of gaining exposure for your institution – and it must be harnessed in today’s world.
When it comes to your brand, you have to think about what you want your institution to be known for and how you will build this reputation.
Research and Expert Faculty
If you want to be known for your world-class research, then you need to ensure you are getting exposure for your results and findings in top-tier and trade press. For example, research from Vlerick Business School on excessive executive pay led to a feature in the CIPD’s People Management magazine. This highlights the school as an institution that produces interesting, high-quality research that is also relevant. This coverage also led to the lead researcher being quoted in The Irish Times and Financial Times, associating the institution’s brand with expert faculty.
We also work extensively with expert faculty from BI Norwegian Business School to keep their brand visible in the media. This has included featuring their School President in a Forbes article on the sectors affected by the pandemic, as well as securing an interview piece with an expert academic on the importance of teaching CSR and ethics in Medium.
If you want your institution to be known for its entrepreneurial alumni, then work to ensure your graduates that have gone on to start-up successful businesses are profiled and getting exposure in the media. For example, we secured coverage in QS TopMBA for a graduate from MIP Politecnico di Milano who started her own sustainable fashion company. Profiles of successful alumni associate your institution’s brand with a top-quality education that can help prospective students also become successful and achieve their aims.
You might want your university to be known for its innovations in technology. We recently worked with NEOMA Business School to increase their profile in the media for opening the first virtual campus in Europe, where students could socialise online using avatars. This led to features in a number of key target outlets including The PIE News, Global Education Times, and UK Tech News.
As we often hear in the news, we are living in unprecedented times and we don’t know what the future will hold – who would have thought at the end of 2019, we would start off the new decade living through a global pandemic?
It is important to cement the message you want to be associated with your branding now. Institutions with good branding will be doing well at present, despite being unable to host in-person events, as their brands already have a host of positive attributes associated with them; whether that’s world-class research, successful alumni, or expert faculty. This is why you should be working to build your institution’s brand through fantastic media exposure: If we do have to go through global crises, then an institution’s brand must be as positive and as strong as it can be.