PR Tips For Communications Teams In The Education Sector

Communications, MediaHQ.com, PR Tips
August 21, 2019
by Rachel Carey

The world of PR and communications is constantly evolving. For those working in the higher education field this means consistently staying on top of new trends, communication methods and ways of doing things. 

Old methods no longer work for the new challenges being presented. Higher education communications teams need to be more reactive and engaging than ever before. 

This article will give you a detailed look at five PR tips we believe are vital for those working in the education sector. We’re focusing on:

  1. Knowing your key education contacts. 
  2. Not forgetting about other media opportunities. 
  3. Newsjacking dates for story success. 
  4. Have a crisis plan in place. 

If you think there is a PR tip that is vital to those working in the education sector and we’re missing from our list, let us know. You can reach us on our social media channels @mediahqnews on Twitter, MediaHQ.com on Facebook and MediaHQ on LinkedIn. 

1. Know your key education contacts

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Every industry has a set group of journalists who write about them. Whether you’re involved in business, agriculture or tech there is a group of journalists whose job it is to write about your industry. The education sector is no different. 

These journalists can be found in national, regional, print, online and broadcast media. This means there is always someone to target for your story. 

Your job, working on a communications team in the education sector is to identify these journalists and start building relationships with them. Look at the type of stories you send out, are they national or regional? Are they more print or online? Identify the areas you focus on and find the right journalists for each. 

Reach out with story ideas or if you’re new to the sector even reach out to say hello. This way the journalists will know who you are, where you work, what you do and they will expect stories from you. Doing this initial reach out ensures your relationship will have a good foundation. 

Here at MediaHQ we have over 60 education journalists on our Irish database alone. We have also built nine education media lists that contain the contact details for all the journalists you need to know in the sector. 

These lists and media contacts allows our users in the education sector to know who is who in the industry. They provide them with information for who to contact on a certain story whether it is national, regional, print or broadcast. 

Our research team also keep the media database completely up-to-date, for those in the education sector this means when one of the key education journalists changes roles or if someone new joins the industry they will be among the first to know.

2. Don’t forget about other media opportunities

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A large majority of higher level institutions are located in cities, meaning it can be easy to forget about local media. 

Regional media provide communication teams in the education sector with a great opportunity to tell their story and pitch their institution to their audience. 

Finding hooks to share stories is also easy. Take a look at your team. Where are they from? If you have a head of faculty from a certain county pitch a story about them. Discuss their work, strides they’re making in their field and what their next steps are. 

Local news outlets love discussing local people. 

Here at MediaHQ we have information for every regional media outlet in Ireland. You can find your regional story in a few simple clicks. 

Another media area that the communications team needs to know is the media in other countries. 

Every year thousands upon thousands of students leave their home country to take up a place in school, college or university in a foreign country. These students bring a wealth of knowledge, diversity, experience and skills to their new higher level institution. 

To attract these students it is worth looking at the media opportunities in foreign countries. Maybe there is a guest post slot available in a publication or online site. Or perhaps social media is the way to go? 

Including international and your own local media in your strategy is a great way to attract students.

3. Flex your newsjacking skills

Newsjacking is the art of hooking on to a news story or specific date and making it your own. 

This February our sister agency All Good Tales newsjacked Valentine’s Day with a campaign for their client Ancestry.com. They knew the day would be spoken about in the media so they did some research around Valentines inspired names that could be found in the Ancestry records database. The story was a huge success. 

These opportunities are there for the education sector also. 

Take a look at upcoming dates. Perhaps there is an anniversary or national day that you can hook on to. For example, 20 September 2019 marks the beginning of the Rugby World Cup. Is there an announcement you can make? Do you have any of the professional players or former players in your institution?

Find out a bit more about the art of newsjacking here

Here at MediaHQ we have a news diary that does this for you. Our research team has done some research and found news hooks, anniversaries or events for every day of the year.

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You simply have to log into your news diary on your MediaHQ account and find the story that’s right for you. 

4. Have a crisis plan in place

Despite the communications teams best efforts to keep the ship sailing smoothly crises are inevitable. 

A communications team must learn how to respond effectively and recover from a crisis when it arises. Communication during a disaster is key, and familiarising yourself and your team with a crisis communication management plan can help you stay prepared ready for when you’re needed. 

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One of the best ways to do this is to have a plan in advance. When crisis strikes you need to act quickly, time is not on your slide. You need to prepare in advance. Map out potential responses and plans for different scenarios. Have a plan for every worst case you can imagine. Although not a nice task it will allow you to develop the best response and solution to the crisis if it occurs. 

With MediaHQ our customers don’t have to worry about getting their message out when crisis strikes. Our system works wherever you are. If a story breaks on a Saturday at 10 am you need to be able to respond. MediaHQ is accessible from anywhere and at anytime. Wherever you are in the world you should be able to log in and respond to a story.

You can find some more tips for how to deal with a PR crisis here

Here at MediaHQ, we work with a number of providers in the education sector providing them with the tools they need to make the news.  We provide our customers with all the PR tools they need to connect with the media, write their press release and pitch their story. We want out customers to succeed and take pride in seeing them make the news. To find out more about our work and how we can help you make your mark in the media click here.